Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –

Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’ 

I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.

Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions.  Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.

One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and in the West London Clinical Commissioning Group area there is Time to Talk, a free psychological therapy service.

In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led Book Break groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.

It is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’  All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.

Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.

There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or see what eBooks and eMagazines we have. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?

See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.

Kate Gielgud
Health Information Co-ordinator

New Arrival – Naxos Music Library!

Naxos Music Library (NML) is now available for RBKC library members!

With an unparalleled depth of classical music content, extensive background information, and improved search facilities that remain simple and effective, NML is a pleasure to use regardless of your prior music and/or technical knowledge.

Continue reading “New Arrival – Naxos Music Library!”

#MondayMotivation – Learning Online

Your library membership is access to a world of information.

We are encouraging you to get the most from your local libraries, by making use of our great range of free online learning courses. Getting access to quality training materials can be expensive – but you can get them for free from us and once registered, you can have access to these materials whenever and wherever you want.

Let me introduce you to Learning Nexus, Universal Class, Go Citizen, and Driving Theory Test Pro!

Continue reading “#MondayMotivation – Learning Online”

The Queen is 90! Let’s look back to April 1926…

Owen Grey, Reference Librarian, writes: 

So this year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday. Or rather birthdays, as while her actual birthday is today, 21 April (she was born at 17 Bruton Street at 2.40am on 21 April 1926), her formal birthday with all the pomp and ceremony is on the second Saturday in June. This year there will be a weekend of celebrations, such as the Patron’s lunch on Sunday 12 June.queen2016

But as the title says – what was said and what happened on the day itself? Using our newspaper archives , both online and hard copy, it is possible to have a glimpse of the news as it would have been read by the people of 1926.

First of all, the time of the then Princess Elizabeth’s birth was important for the daily newspapers. Normally an event which occurred on the 21st would be reported on the 22nd once it has had a chance to be written and printed. However, because the event took place so early in the morning it made it into the headlines of the day!

Check the Times Digital Archive to see how the news was reported (log in with your library card number). You could limit your searches to just 21 and 22 April, or simply browse through each day’s newspaper. Then take a look at some of the other papers – different publications can give you different types of story and varying headlines. newsa

Think about your search terms; which words will you use? Try out different ones. Remember that the baby born that day had not yet been named, was not yet Queen or even the heir to the throne. Here are a few tips for possible keywords: granddaughter, daughter, birth, Duchess of York, and royal are just a few.

From my searches I discovered that The Times managed to get an announcement into its 21 April ‘News in Brief’ section, and the next day mentions that the princess is third in line for succession to the throne (an important fact, as we would find out later on).

And take a look at our Illustrated London News collection for some images too. These are available in Central and Chelsea Libraries.

queen

 

 

Lots of stories to explore! Why not go further and see what is written about each of the birthdays and life events over her 90 years? You can read more in one of the many books featured on our catalogue, and find dates and events to then research in the newspapers. Be imaginative with your search terms; you never know what you might discover!

Calling all science buffs!

Did you know this week is science week?

And in honour of Science Week Britannica Online have created a special microsite to celebrate some of the scientists who have made remarkable inventions and discoveries, leading to major advances in the field of science.

science_week

You will find links to articles about a variety of people who have made contributions to the scientific community. These articles will help you complete the quiz, word search and crossword.

Britannica Online have also created a diagram that shows well known scientific fields and their notable scientists; many scientists fall into more than one field!

Take a look and try the quiz! You’ll also find lesson plans, activities, biographies and other media to entertain and inform.

 

 

 

Searching the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Francis Serjeant, librarian, writes:

Warning! Searching the online resource the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) can be addictive as “all human life is here”. Most people use this dictionary to search for a specific individual. However you may not be aware that using the advanced search options and selecting other search criteria will create lists of names of the great and the good… and also, it must be said, the not so good.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - home page
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

To use the advanced search facility, click on one of the “More Search Options” displayed beneath the main search box.

Curiosity led me to check how many people there were with Kensington and Chelsea links by using these terms in the ‘place search’ category option. The result was over 3000! However this figure is misleading, as a casual check of a few entries revealed that the connection was often limited either to their unfortunate death in one of the borough’s hospitals or attendance at one of the borough’s schools.

I whittled down the 1975 Kensington entries to 122 by selecting the “Law and Crime” category from the drop down list of occupations (found in the “Fields of Interest” search category). Amongst the list of lawyers and judges I found John Christie, the Notting Hill mass murderer.

You may wonder why he is included. The DNB does not only include the great and the good. To quote the website “the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the national record of men and women who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century”. In the case of Christie, the miscarriage of justice leading to the hanging of the innocent Timothy Evans, to quote Christie’s DNB entry, “played a significant part to the subsequent abolition of the death penalty in Britain”.

For further details of the case and posthumous pardon of Evans read the Ludovic Kennedy book 10 Rillington Place which can be found at Kensington Central Library, or borrow the DVD feature film version of the book, staring Richard Attenborough as John Christie.

10 Rillington Place, by Ludovic Kennedy
10 Rillington Place, by Ludovic Kennedy

Finally it is also worth investigating the “Themes” tab to display the large number of collective biographies brought together under such topics as climbers of Everest, British monarchs, First World War poets and significant military and political leaders involved in that conflict. Other lists include a number of founder members of institutions and other significant groups.

Online Resource of the month: Oxford English Dictionary Blog

OK so how can a dictionary be exciting? you may ask. I thought the same thing as I was about to explain to two youngsters doing their work experience here in Kensington Central Library.

Well, it is easier than you think. The Oxford English Dictionary shows you just how diverse our language is. It isn’t just a language derived from a single origin but a number of origins – Greek, Latin, French, Arabic, German, Japanese, and more… It shows each word’s history by telling of the origins of words, their first use, their reasons for meaning what they do as well as just what they mean now and other words which can be used in their stead.

I also enjoy the fact that, when you are told that you have spelt a word wrong- perhaps spelling it as it sounds-  it is  perhaps we ourselves who are a bit silly trying to enforce spelling, as words have developed their spelling over a great many years. Indeed, a word’s spelling is simply a way of making it understood verbally, not as the modern age suggests, which is a rule which we must follow to the letter!

You can visit and search through the Oxford English Dictionary online and look at…

  • The word of the day
  • History of words and when they were first used
  • Weekdays named after ancient gods
  • Months meaning (inaccurate) numbers and Roman emperors
  • The sheer number of words – 600,000
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary

In the library you will be signed in automatically and from outside you will just need to type in your Kensington and Chelsea library card number. Please ask a member of staff if you need any help, and we will be happy to give you a hand!

Fashion for the People: a history of clothing at Marks & Spencer

Reference librarians Karen and Gillian write:

Recently, Rachel Worth, Professor of Dress and Fashion at Arts University Bournemouth, delivered a presentation on the history of Marks & Spencer at Chelsea Library. This post is based on what we learnt about the high street giant from Rachel’s fascinating and insightful lecture.

From very humble beginnings in a Penny Bazaar stall at Leeds Kirkgate Market in 1884, Michael Marks and – from  a partnership that began in 1894 – Thomas Spencer together built a company that would become Britain’ s biggest clothing retailer.

From the archives
From the archives

Today, Marks & Spencer is a company synonymous with quality, reliability and customer care, but do we associate it with fashion?

Well – yes! Marks & Spencer was at the forefront of bringing accessible and fashionable clothing to the masses, at the same time being a pioneer in using new textiles, displays techniques and marketing methods – including the use of “supermodels” before the word was ever invented.

In the 1890s most working class people made their own clothes, and initially the market stall sold haberdashery (dressmaking materials). The sales slogan of “Don’t Ask The Price, It’s A Penny” summed up the business model. By the outbreak of World War One the company had expanded considerably and had diversified into homewares, but clothing remained at the heart of the business.

Marks & Spencer revolutionised how we bought clothes and also how clothes were sold, focusing on ready-to-wear affordable goods; high quality, well designed and fashionable clothing. In the 1920s M&S was ahead of most other retailers in its marketing and retailing methods setting an upper price limit on clothes. It also accepted the return of unwanted items, giving a full cash refund if the receipt was shown, no matter how long ago the product was purchased, which was unusual for the time.

 

Picture from M&S Magazine, Christmas 1932 Womenswear advert with three women and two young girls
M&S Magazine, Christmas 1932 Womenswear advert © M&S Company Archive
M&S Fashion advertorial with a series of women in M&S clothes
M&S colour supplement in ‘Woman’ magazine, May 1958

It entered into long term relationships with British manufacturers, and sold clothes of the “St Michael” brand, introduced in 1928.  As the company dealt directly with manufacturers it was able to keep prices low and to maintain input in the design and quality of clothes sold in its stores. It was one of the first companies to introduce standardisation in sizing.  It also aimed to cater for all members of the family; children’s clothing and ready-to-wear suits being particularly popular.

M&S Fashion 4
A Marks and Spencer’s window display of St Michael Terylene skirts, Swansea store, 1957, taken from Fashion for the People, by Rachel Worth

Pioneering methods included having its own textile laboratory to enable the testing of fabrics and dyes before mass production, and the use of rainmaking machines to test water repellent fabrics. New synthetic textiles were particularly popular between the 1950s and 1970s. These included Tricell which was first used in 1957. Another synthetic fibre called Courtelle was first launched, nationally, by Marks & Spencer during  the 60s as was Crimplene and Terylene.

These fabrics were easy to wash, often drip dry, easy iron and held their colour or shape. Terylene, for instance, meant the fashionable 50’s woman could have a permanently pleated non-iron skirt. The introduction of Lycra in  the 1980s revolutionised hosiery,  swimwear and underwear because of its elastic properties.

M&S hosiery advert
Lycra hosiery, The M&S Magazine, Autumn/Winter 1988, taken from Fashion for the People by Rachel Worth

 

M&S Fashion 6
St Michael News, July 1953 taken from Fashion for the People by Rachel Worth

Marks and Spencer has always been design conscious, and no more so than in the 1950s when designs were Paris-inspired with an interpretation of the New Look being all the rage. Colour coordinated clothing and jersey knitwear enabled the fashionable women on a budget to change her look , updating key pieces when on a tight budget.

Picture of a large window display unit with knitwear suspended from the top
Window display of St Michael Orlon knitwear, 1950s

Display and marketing was always a key element of the presentation of M&S fashion ranges.  Before the days of mass advertising it was the window display that dominated; these were eye catching and innovative (see above). Early advertising concentrated on the opening of new stores, but post-war the company began to employ models in print media using the well know faces of the day, including Twiggy in the 1960s:

Ambassador Magazine, 1967 taken from Fashion for the People by Rachel Worth
Ambassador Magazine, 1967 taken from Fashion for the People by Rachel Worth

The heyday of this form of mass marketing was the 1990s when M&S began to use supermodels such as Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer.  Here is Vogue’s front cover of July 1996 with Amber Valletta wearing a Marks & Spencer shirt, which we found in our archives at Chelsea Library:

Vogue, July 1996
Vogue, July 1996


If fashion  is a concept based around our attitudes to  clothing then Marks and Spencer is part of its fabric: with its  high  quality/ good value ethos,  innovative and strong relationships with customers,  and its technological innovations  it  led the way in fashion for the masses.  Our thanks to Rachel for  revealing some of the secrets to the success of  the company over the last hundred years.

Rachel’s book, Fashion for the People: a history of clothing at Marks & Spencer is available to read at Chelsea Reference library.

Golborne Street Festival

Gaynor, Lending Librarian at North Kensington library, writes…

The library stall
Library stall at the Golborne Street Festival

On Sunday 19 July, Sandeep, Margaret, Natasha, Leanne , Nina and myself manned a market stall at the Golborne Street Festival. The day did not begin well: rain and extreme wind made setting up the stall with bunting and posters very interesting! By the time the festival started, however, the sun had broken out and we were taking shelter under the stall canopy. We took turns to staff the stall and leaflet the crowds.

Sandeep and Gaynor take shelter
Sandeep and Gaynor take shelter

There was a fantastic atmosphere with representatives from a variety of organisations and community groups, food and craft stalls, plus the obligatory bouncy castle, face painting and live music. For us it was a unique opportunity to reach a wide cross-section of the community we don’t normally see in the library and tell them about all the resources, activities and services libraries have to offer. Lots of people did not realise that the library service is not just about books; they were pleased and interested to hear about Zinio, Universal Class,  e-books and events.Golborne Festival - staff

Nina completely exploded the myth of the traditional reference librarian by dancing down the street and completely raiding the police and food stalls. She ran a gang of street urchins (also known as her friend’s children), whom she bribed to help us distribute Summer Reading Challenge leaflets.

We had a great day, distributing more than 200 Summer Reading Challenge leaflets and, over the course of the day, spoke to many hundreds of adults and children about our wonderful libraries!

Introducing the Punch Historical Archive!

 

Karen, Reference Manager, writes…

Looking for some political predictions from phrenologists?  How about Victorian era investment advice? If you’re after some scathing commentary on 19th and 20th century society, look no further than the Punch Historical Archive! One hundred and fifty-one years of this legendary satirical magazine have been completely digitised and are now available at your fingertips!

Sketch of Punch by Harry Furniss, from jan 1882 edition
Furniss, Harry. “An Undoubted Old Master.” Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 14 Jan. 1882: 14. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
Spanning from the very first issue in 1841, all the way until the final issue in 1992, the database contains full colour scans of every issue.

Snippet taken from article: Public Affairs on Phrenological Principles"  Aug. 1841

“Public Affairs on Phrenological Principles.” Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 14 Aug. 1841: 57. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
In addition to providing a comprehensive archive, the database also offers a collection of fascinating essays from leading scholars.  For example, Dr Annie Grey has analysed the representations of food in Punch, while Professor Brian Maidment investigates early Victorian comics. Of particular interest may be Dr Mike Benbough-Jackson’s article exploring how Punch handled humour during the First World War.

Cartoon taken from Punch Almanack 1915
Raven-Hill, Leonard. “Almanack.” Almanack. Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 1 Jan. 1915: n.p. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
To access the Punch Historical Archive, simply visit the library’s online databases!