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!

Kensington Central Library – July 2013

Kensington Central Library
Kensington Central Library

Hello from us all at Kensington Central Library! We’ve certainly been enjoying the better weather (& we hope you all have too) – so our blog post this month certainly has a summery feel – from Wimbledon to summer reading.

Well done Andy Murray!

Andy Murray with his Wimbledon trophy
Andy Murray with his Wimbledon trophy

Well that was certainly an exciting Sunday afternoon! I did at times think that Andy was keeping it going so that I could get home in time for match point. Sadly I wasn’t but I’m not sure my nerves could have coped with the tension anyway so probably not a bad thing! Indeed, he managed to finish him off relatively quickly in the end and I was able to have my celebratory ice cream and watch his Centre Court celebrations!

After a long wait there is certainly an element of relief as well as cheer in my heart at Murray’s victory; it was certainly a while since a British player won the Men’s singles Wimbledon – although I suppose he did win last year as well – does Olympic gold count?

We must all have had a feeling that this was coming after that gold medal, last year’s final, the doubles victories of Jonny Marray (last year) and Jamie Murray in 2007 and all those years of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski so nearly getting to the final! You can read the stories about these victories and Andy Murray’s in the newspaper articles within UKNewsstand – a fully searchable database of UK national and local newspapers. 

Virginia Wade
Virginia Wade

So although we may’ve been provided some consolation by the doubles victories, it was really the singles where we wanted to be victorious; it was certainly a long time since anyone had been singles champion. Virginia Wade “fought for 16 years” to win her women’s singles title in 1977 and for a men’s winner you had to go even further back – to 1936 with Fred Perry winning his third title. Fred’s final was much easier than Andy’s as von Cramm injured himself in the first game of the match.

You can read about both of their victories and the reaction in the Times Digital Archive – this is an online, full-text facsimile of more than 200 years of The Times. Judging by the reaction to Fred’s win with his “murderous forehand” I don’t think they knew just how long we would have to wait until they could next celebrate such a victory at Wimbledon!

Fred Perry
Fred Perry

Fred was a very interesting chap as well. You only have to read his biography, did you know he had also been the world table tennis champion?! And it wasn’t just these competitions that he won – have a whiz through his fascinating life story in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – this lists remarkable people in any walk of life who were connected with the British Isles, excluding living people.

Finally, as we look on into the future wondering whether Andy can compete with Fred’s records why not have a read of the Oxford University Press’ blog piece, ‘An Oxford Companion to Wimbledon’  (I especially like the ending) which perhaps expresses some of our pre-victory feelings.

Owen Grey

Triborough Reference Librarian

The heat is on – so cool down with a book!

Summer Reads on display
Summer Reads on display

The hot weather has inspired us to have a look at some books about cooling down, such as a great book about ‘Wild Swimming’ by Daniel Start.  And we have also been picking out some great stories to get stuck into on lazy summer days.  Take a look at our selection at the Kensington Central Library.

London 60s Week book display
London 60s Week book display

The 19 to 28 July is London 60s Week – an annual festival celebrating the golden anniversary of the 60s.  The festival celebrates the creative explosion from this period, and we have found lots of evidence of this creative talent in our books!

More information about this festival can be found on the London 60s Week website.

We’ve also got some summer reading displays in our children’s library – especially for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge! More information about the challenge and our special events during the school holidays can be found on our Summer Reading Challenge webpage.

Gillian Nunns, Reference Librarian
Gillian Nunns

Gillian Nunns

Lending Librarian

Hot Off the Press – from the Titanic to Picasso

This is the final blog post in a series of four from Nina Risoli, one of our Tri-Borough Reference Librarians about two of our online reference databases:

You can catch up with last three posts, an introduction to both databases, more about  UK Newsstand and the Times Digital Archive.

This week Nina demonstrates how two very different subjects – the Titanic and Pablo Picasso –  can be researched on the Times Digital Archive and UK Newsstand.

Sinking the Unsinkable

Titanic
The Titanic

You can experience the drama of events such as the sinking of the Titanic, for example, and follow the awful event as it was reported as the news trickled in.

Boarding Pass for the Titanic
Boarding Pass for the Titanic

This is a string of some of the results you get when you search the database inserting a single search term: Titanic.

  • Launch Of The Titanic. Vessel Successfully Takes The Water. (News) from our special correspondent
    The Times Thursday, Jun 01, 1911
  • The Largest Vessel Afloat. Maiden Voyage Of The Titanic. (News)
    The Times Thursday, Apr 11, 1912
  • The Titanic Disaster. (Editorials/Leaders)
    The Times Tuesday, Apr 16, 1912
  • Titanic Sunk. Terrible Loss Of Life Feared., Collision With An Iceberg., Official Messages. (News) (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.).The Times Tuesday, Apr 16, 1912
  • Position Of The Titanic At The Time Of The Disaster. (Picture Gallery)
    The Times Tuesday, Apr 16, 1912
  • The Marine Insurance Market. The Disaster To The Titanic. (Shipping News)
    The Times Tuesday, Apr 16, 1912
  • The Titanic Disaster. A Death Roll Of 1,328., List Of Survivors., World-Wide Expressions Of Sympathy. (News)
    The Times Wednesday, Apr 17, 1912
  • New York Stock Exchange. Dull On The Loss Of The Titanic. (Stock Exchange Tables)
    The Times Wednesday, Apr 17, 1912
  • Help For Titanic Victims. A Mansion House Fund., Donations From The King And Queen. (Letters to the Editor) THOS. BOOR CROSBY, Lord Mayor
    The Times Thursday, Apr 18, 1912
  • The Titanic. Number Of Survivors Still Doubtful., The Supply Of Boats., Relief Fund Opened In London. (News) (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
    The Times Thursday, Apr 18, 1912
Dinner Menu on the Titanic
Dinner Menu on the Titanic

The string of newspapers headlines eloquently illustrates how the ‘unsinkable’ ship went from this:

Titanic at Night
Titanic at Night

To this in one short week:

Sunken Titanic
Sunken Titanic

 

Fall and Rise of Picasso

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso

In another example, the first article published in The Times about the artist, Pablo Picasso is dated 12 April1912 following the exhibition of his drawings in Stafford Gallery in Duke Street in London. It defends the artist from the accusations of being the ‘incompetent charlatan’ and discusses how the advent of photography ‘spooked’ artists like Picasso into exploring the abstract and moving away from representing form in the conventional way.

  

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso

268 further results reveal the bewilderment of the established critics at the developments of this new way of artistic expression. They chart the artist’s rise through countless exhibitions, record-breaking sales, stolen works, attempts at forgery of his paintings, right through to the platitudes piled on him on the occasion of his 75th birthday, on 25th October 1956, in the article which declares him ‘among the greatest draughtsman to have appeared in the history of European art.’

…and finally his death at 91 on Monday, 9th April 1973, with The Times depicting him as the ‘greatest painter of modern times’ and a national treasure of several countries. Henry Moore calls him ‘probably the most naturally gifted artist since Raphael’ and the director of Tate hails him as ‘beyond comparison and the most original genius of the century.’

 “When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

It is interesting to note how the emphasis of the whole body of writing on the subject of Picasso on the Times Digital Archive is overwhelmingly his art, despite the fact that he had a very colourful private life. Out of 268 articles only a handful refer to his private life, briefly and respectfully.

The true fall-out of his manner of life and the fact that he left no will to help the family manage his gigantic legacy can be much better traced using UK Newsstand, reflecting our modern obsession with salacious detail and Picasso himself. Search for “Picasso women” yields staggering 9222 articles in UK Newsstand.

All this is interesting on its own merit, but if you are a student or a researcher or have a special interest in anything that happened or was talked about in this country in the last 200 years – Times Digital Archive can enrich your understanding and widen you research through its particular take on people and events captured in news articles as they unfolded.

If you wish to have a demonstration of the Times Digital Archive or UK Newsstand please contact Kensington Central Reference Library on information@rbkc.gov.uk.  A reference librarian will be delighted to help you get familiar with the databases and set you off on your own journey of discovery. Kensington Central Reference Library has 5 dedicated computers available for researching our online databases.

Nina Risoli
Nina Risoli

Nina Risoli, Tri- Borough Reference Librarian

Kensington Central Reference Library

What is Oxford Reference Online?

Oxford Reference Online
Oxford Reference Online

Did you know that Oxford Reference Online has been improved? It’s changed from a more traditional Oxford blue to a more modern looking green design. Had you visited it before? If not you must give it a go whether it is to answer questions for others or yourself, writing an essay or for personal interest. Did you know that if you didn’t have a London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea or City of Westminster library card you would have to pay more than £100 per year? If you do have one of those cards you can use it in the library and from home for free! Just follow the link from one of the Online Reference pages (listed below).

  • Revamped – looks more snazzy now
  • Held by all 3 boroughs
  • Made up of a wide variety of reference books published by Oxford
  • Covers a number of subjects
  • Say what you can find out on it and why it is so good

 So that’s over 200 reference books you could have at home – almost like having your own personal reference library!

Oxford Reference Online
Oxford Reference Online

“But” I can hear you say: “surely I can get that for free online anyway can’t I?” Well not quite as there is a very important difference. All this material is written by academics and published by the world renowned Oxford University Press! In an essay it could be the difference between getting an A and a U, in life it could be the difference between what you read in that book in the library and what someone said down the pub!

So which questions could it answer? Well it could…

  • Translate a word (with its bilingual dictionaries)
  • Help you remember who wrote East of Eden (and tell you a bit about them)
  • Tell you what all those strange abbreviations mean
  • Give you a great number of the wonderful quotations made by famous people such as Mahatma Gandhi e.g.“Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.”

Or Nelson Mandela e.g.

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

 But why not just see what’s so great about it? Have a look today by following the link from one of these pages:

And using your Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster or Hammersmith and Fulham library card to log in.

Owen Grey, Reference Librarian

Kensington Central Reference Library and Marylebone Information Service