12 strange facts about mistletoe

The staff at Brompton Library have been very busy looking through our reference resources, both in the library and online for some festive facts.

First up –  12 strange facts about mistletoe:

  1. Mistletoe is a parasite that grows on around the tops of broad leave trees, mainly hawthorn, blackthorn, willow, oak and rowan.
  2. You can hardly ever find it on oak trees. It’s so rare to find it on oak trees that ancient druids thought that mistletoe on oak was sacred.
  3. Mistletoe bushes can grow up to 1m wide when they can look like baskets and are sometimes called Witches’ Brooms.
  4. Birds eat the leaves and berries but don’t eat them yourself because they are poisonous to humans.
  5. In Norse times, after Loki killed Baldur with a mistletoe spear, it became a symbol of love and friendship and anyone passing under the mistletoe would exchange a kiss.
  6. Other names for mistletoe are birdlime, all-heal, golden bough and devil’s fuge.
  7. The Greek word for mistletoe is “Phoradendron” which means “thief of the tree” because it feeds on trees and can kill them.
  8. During the Medieval times, mistletoe was used during the to ward off evil spirits and protect from the devil. It was then burnt when Christmas was over.
  9. The name “mistletoe” comes from the Anglo-Saxon words “mistle” and “tan” which mean “dung twig”. This is because mistletoe spreads its seeds via bird droppings! Birds eat the seeds and spread them when they do droppings in other places.
  10. Mistletoe was used for leprosy, hypertension, pain and intestinal worms in the past.
  11. Mistletoe is now being researched as a cure for colon cancer.
  12. Kissing under the mistletoe started again in Victorian times when servants played a game where any girl caught standing under the mistletoe was allowed to be kissed.
  13. In modern times people still like to kiss under this mistletoe, but nowadays we ask before we kiss!

We hope you enjoyed this; do look out for more festive posts coming soon.

Staff at Brompton Library

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!”

Our new bibliography database

If you’re a student studying any subject, if you work as a researcher, or are simply interested in research, a credible and comprehensive bibliography is a must. Oxford Bibliographies is undoubtedly a great starting point for your research! Oxford Bibliographies aims to provide selective online bibliographies of the best works on authors and subjects. Written by over 6,000 (!) expert scholars, Oxford Bibliographies offers authoritative research guides in 39 academic disciplines (these include Buddhism, Linguistics, Evolutionary Biology, Victorian Literature, and more). Each of these subjects has approximately 100 articles (entries), containing annotated bibliographies of recommended reading for each item of the subject. These are updated quarterly.

 

You can browse any of the subject areas by clicking on it, or using the search box at the top to get into a topic. It’s simple to use: for instance, from the Home page, if you click on the British and Irish Literature module, you will find as many as 96 items listed in alphabetical order, through which you can easily browse and navigate.

These include, Arthurian Literature, Biography and Autobiography, Censorship, Dracula, Famine, The Gunpowder Plot, Seamus Heaney, Ian McEwan, The Contemporary British Novel, Vampire Fiction.

 

list

 

How can you find out more about your subject? You can begin by clicking on Learn more about this subject in the lefthand box. This opens in a new window containing an introduction to the topic (you’re in good hands: the Editor in Chief, Andrew Hadfield is a professor of English at the University of Sussex, and the sources which Oxford Bibliographies use are wide ranging and not biased towards any Oxford publications content).

Brit_irish_lit

Let’s take a look at one article within the module of British and Irish Literature: for example, Censorship. You will find an informative and concise overview. This is a very precise and, more importantly, sensitive and impartial overview: censorship is explained as not being a static category but as one that changes over time, ‘encompassing cultural bias, politics, religion, law, publishing and trade relations, copyright…’ Censorship in English literature should be examined differently to that in Irish literature which was regulated by the same laws as English literature but later by the very different Irish Republic regulations.

censorship.jpg

The several subdivisions that follow the introduction cite books and a broad range of online resources (e-journals and websites) and direct users to the exact chapter, book, archive or online resource, with direct links to resources via your library’s catalogue, WorldCat and Google books in ‘Find this Resource’. The taxonomies are comprehensive and one can also skip to a different topic by typing a keyword in the search box on the top righthand corner.

For more information about this online resource, please ask a member of staff at any of the branch libraries. And why not take a look at our other online resources too?

 

Farida Jaafar

Tri-borough Reference Librarian

 

Celebrating Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte was born on 21 April 1816. The eldest of the Bronte siblings to reach adulthood, she was the last to die. She wrote Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette, and died on 31 March 1855, aged 38. Her bicentenary is celebrated this year, and those of Branwell Brontë in 2017,  Emily Brontë in 2018 and Anne Brontë in 2020.

This post is a quick reminder of some of the resources we have available in the library for Bronte students…look out for more Bronte posts in the future.

brontepics

The library holds a wealth of Charlotte Bronte resources for everyone, from students to simply curious browsers: Charlotte Bronte’s entry in the DNB (Dictionary of National Biography) gives a concise but detailed account of the life of this shy, complex and talented writer, with links to additional resources.

bronte

The online Encyclopaedia Britannica’s topic pages  also gives extensive lists of useful sources of further reading.  Britannica Library for students gives an excellent and well-written article about the Bronte family’s difficult and intriguing life.

Don’t forget, with both these resources you are offered links to carefully chosen, credible sites on the internet, as well as primary sources, pictures, and library catalogue entries. You are also able to highlight particular words in the article for a more detailed explanation of their meaning if unsure.

 

bronte1

 

bronte2

And for further reading, the Times Digital Archive gives us a review of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte, an insight into the thoughts and attitudes of her contemporaries.

 

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.

Introducing the “Library Anywhere” Mobile App

Library Anywhere app logo
The ‘Library Anywhere’ mobile app

Have you ever had that sinking feeling – perhaps in the middle of a holiday – as you realise you’ve forgotten to renew your library books? Do you find yourself wondering if the interesting-yet-obscure book you just discovered at a friend’s house, or in a shop, is in stock at your local library?

All this could be a thing of the past with the “Library Anywhere” mobile app! Library Anywhere – free from the App Store and Google Play – gives you access to your library account information, opening times and much more. Search for items on the Library Catalogue, place holds and renew your borrowed items wherever you are. The app comes with a handy option for scanning barcodes so you can easily check to see if that cool looking book is indeed available at your local branch.

For more information, visit the library website.

iPhone and Android users

Download the ‘Library Anywhere’ app free from the App Store or Google Play.

Blackberry and other smartphone users

You can also use the app interface in a ‘universal version’ by going to http://bit.ly/LibAnywhere. The Barcode Scan feature is not available in this version.

Feeling Clever? Quiz Yourself at Encyclopaedia Britannica

This month we laughed at politicians getting names wrong or being scared to do their times tables on air. What about us? How do we stack up? One fun way of testing ourselves is by taking on one of these Encyclopaedia Britannica quizzes

Quizzes at Encyclopaedia Britannica
Quizzes at Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

How did you do? Will we vote for you at the next election?

You can always learn a little more and do even better next time by consulting the Encyclopaedia Britannica online. Find out about the things you are interested in (or feel you ought to know!).

[Owen]

Want to learn Gaelic, or improve your IT skills? Learning Nexus: June’s online resource of the month

Sandeep Dhaliwal, our Tri-borough Reference Librarian, writes:

As a library member you can now improve your computer, business and language skills with online e-learning courses!

Learning Nexus is a UK based independent e-learning publisher and solutions provider. They provide online courses for anyone and everyone, on a variety of topics, so that you can gain skills and expertise, for free (apart from the languages module, which is £5 for three months use).

The course range addresses many of the skills and much of the generic knowledge required in order to be effective in today’s work and business environment:

  • Health and safety including working safely, stress at work, slips, trips and falls, repetitive strain injuries and safe manual handling
  • Workplace skills including time management, organising and running successful meetings, communication skills and recruitment and selection
  • IT skills including office ergonomics, use of Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 including Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word and Project (2007)
  • Languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Mandarin, Welsh, Polish and Scottish Gaelic

The courses are easy to navigate: simply choose the course you would like to take (for example, Excel 2007); choose a lesson within that course (for example, Formulas and Referencing), and then go! It’s a step-by-step process, and your lesson is saved as you progress, meaning that you can return to it and complete it at another time.

Lessons on Learning Nexus
Lessons on Learning Nexus

 

Learning Nexus lesson- office ergonomicsLearning Nexus lesson- office ergonomics
Learning Nexus lesson- office ergonomics

 

Completing a course gives you a certificate of attainment, and allows you to see an overall report of your results.

Learning Nexus skills assessment
Learning Nexus skills assessment

Learning Nexus is perfect for small businesses, who want to boost their employee’s knowledge; or for personal users, who want to gain confidence in a variety of skills- perhaps for job-hunting.

Please find links to the Learning Nexus user guide, or for a demonstration of this resource- and others- at Kensington Reference Library please e-mail information@rbkc.gov.uk. A member of staff will be delighted to help and set you off on your own journey of discovery.

A full list of online resources which the library service currently offers is available here: http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/leisureandlibraries/libraries/onlinedatabases.aspxJuly’s blog entry will feature Oxford Reference Online.

Ancestry online: finding ancestors who were involved in WWI

Our Reference Librarian, Owen Grey, writes:

Have you ever looked into how your family was involved in the Great War?

They may not have mentioned it to you, perhaps because it is too upsetting: the horror of the conflict is felt to this day with soldiers and artillery still being found, recently with tragic consequences; they feel you would not be interested (perhaps you never asked them); and in these more peaceful days they may not be proud that they were a member of the army. Whatever the reason,  it would be a fascinating and worthwhile project to find out more about the people involved, and perhaps who even gave their lives, during WWI – especially as we reach the 100th anniversary of its beginning.

Indeed, I myself found out from a comment from a relative that my Great Grandfather gave his life in 1917, and used Ancestry Online, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, to find out more .

Ancestry, our online database of thousands of family history records, does not just provide birth and death details, it can also help us to find more information about our ancestors- or even find ancestors we never knew we had! Once we know a few simple details, we can then find their war records using AncestryAncestry doesn’t only have UK records, it also contains:

  • records from the US, the Commonwealth, France, Germany and other European countries who were also involved in the conflict.
  • Service records
  • Medals
  • War graves
  • Rolls of honour – those who died in the war
Ancestry online
Ancestry online

You can search specifically in a particular military record, in military records in general or perhaps just in amongst Ancestry’s vast number of records.

Once you have found items of interest you could perhaps ask family members more about what they know, and continue your detective work into your family history. Try looking in newspapers (using the Times Digital Archive) from WWI to see what was happening when your family members were involved in conflict. Your search could even uncover a grave or memorial. 

Drop into Kensington Central Reference Library to find out more about Ancestry and our other online databases. A member of our team will be happy to help you use them!