National Geographic Virtual Library – your world from home

Blog13P-RF0534-K12Apart from death and taxes there are few guarantees in this life. One thing you can count on though is if you pick up a magazine with a yellow frame on its cover then it will invariably be a National Geographic. High standards since 1888 has meant this magazine has a worldwide circulation in the millions. National Geographic has not just raised public awareness of the importance of natural places and wildlife, it has also actively funded scientific research including that of mountain gorilla expert Dian Fossey and discoverer of the sunken Titanic, Robert Ballard.

Now this beautiful and informative content can be viewed online at the National Geographic Virtual Library. This is particularly useful if all that is on TV is some awful cooking or dating show. The virtual library allows you to access all articles, maps and award-winning images from 1888 onwards. You can search by  location, subject or just browse through hundreds of stunning magazine covers.

We also have access to National Geographic Kids which is the only kids brand with a world-class scientific organisation at its core. This eResource allows electronic access to the kids magazine and articles on every known subject. I mean who doesn’t want to know that night-time rainbows are called moonbows or that the sky on Mars is pink? Personally I think it is sweet that dinosaur bones were mistaken for dragon bones when they first discovered 2,000 years ago!

If you are looking for answers to or just want to spend some time with something beautiful and clever then all you need is your library card number, password / PIN to access these joyful eResources. Indulge.

Know thyself – New Zealand eBooks with Wheelers

KTT WheelersWhen I came back from London I remember sitting down to watch TV and laughing quietly to myself when there was an ad for chainsaws. It reminded me yet again that being a New Zealander is actually a thing – we do exist with our own culture and character. Why this should continue to be such a revelation to me was largely due to growing up and being told that I am “Irish, Scottish and English”. I can’t really remember being told I was a New Zealander until I actually went to Ireland, Scotland and England. They were under no illusion that I was one of theirs and I had the visa restrictions to prove it.

One way to absorb, enjoy and learn about New Zealand’s unique culture is through its fiction and non-fiction. This is where Wheelers comes in with eBook titles by New Zealanders or about New Zealand. We can learn to be better parents with psychologist Nigel Latta (a native of Oamaru), or contemplate the loss of life in the Tragedy at Pike River Mine by Rebecca Macfie. If it is escape we seek then we can lose ourselves in the historical fiction of Jenny Pattrick or Deborah Challinor.

While all Kiwi kids should know the names Mahy, Cowley and Lasenby.

Cover of Magpie HallWheelers continues to promote New Zealand authors with our Community Read making Magpie Hall by Rachael King universally available.

So regardless of your ancestral background if you have grown up in these shaky isles you will find stories familiar to your heart in Wheeler’s local content – a welcome reminder that we are New Zealanders and we are home.

Lawrence of Arabia: not just a WWI hero!

The mystique of the East and all things Arabian have always intrigued me. As a younger girl part of that for me was learning about Lawrence of Arabia, and I feel compelled to introduce him to those who may know little of him, his adventures and his actions during WWI.

Cover of The Golden WarriorSome of you may have seen the movie Lawrence of Arabia which was first shown in 1962. It was described as an epic adventure film amd won several Oscars. The image that comes to mind is of Lawrence in his eastern robes astride a camel in the shimmering desert – a rather romantic, exotic image. I was saddened when I learned that Lawrence, at the young age of 46, was killed riding a motorbike, like a perfectly ordinary bloke, not such a romantic image I have now! My young girl fantasy shattered.

Thomas Edward Lawrence was born in Wales on 16th August 1888. As a young man he enjoyed travel. After a study trip to Syria he decided to become an archaeologist. He studied medieval castles in France and Syria and was to use his experiences to write his thesis (published in 1910 as Crusader Castles); in doing so he gained first-class honours in History. His knowledge of Arabic gained during his time in Syria became a useful tool when he returned to the Middle East to fight for the allies against the Turks in WWI.

Cover of Lawrence of ArabiaOn all accounts Lawrence could be described as a colourful character. He has been depicted by George Bernard Shaw as a “literary genius” and yet blasted by an Oxford historian as a “charlatan and fantasist”. He was also accused of being a spy, something that some may still believe today. One thing that cannot be disputed is he came out of the First World War as a hero for his efforts in the Middle East and is still seen as such. As a matter of interest, over twenty new books have been written about Lawrence between 2000 and 2010.

What do you know of him? Have you read about him? If you would like to know more about Lawrence, check our catalogue. We have several interesting books about him and also have the original soundtrack to the movie made about him. Further to this we have many eResources, such as Biography in ContextOxford Dictionary of National Biography, Britannica Library Adults, and History Reference Center, to name just a few for you to enjoy.

Cover of Young Lawrence Cover of Hero Cover of Seven Pillars of Wisdom Cover of Lawrence of Arabia

Fashion magazines: inspirational, or evolutionary leftovers?

416345574_lgFashion magazines have come in for a lot of criticism. People are critical of the illusionary effect of Photoshop to carve away waists, arm flab and create blemish free darlings with thigh gaps and extra white teeth. Are young women and men suffering trying to live up to these ideals that owe more to computer programming than healthy eating?

As someone with three nieces, I have posted more than one video on their Facebook pages showing how cover girls are created – make up, lighting and computer magic. I tell them weight is about health not about the ability to squeeze into skin tight jeans that will only lead to cystitis. (No they have yet to defriend me)

Despite the need for us all to be media savvy, there can be no doubt that at the same time we are fascinated by what we see. Fashion magazines still sell because though few may enter that world some say there is an evolutionary need to seek out beauty, appreciate creativity and basically people watch. At one point in our history, a symmetrical face free from blemishes indicated good genetic stock and those who knew how to create things led us from the cave to double glazed homes. We also needed to evaluate people quickly to see if they were friend, foe or competition. This may seem a leap in thinking, but if so explain to me Kim Kardashian?

Whatever your opinion of fashion magazines the library does have access to them in both print and digital format with Zinio for Libraries and PressDisplay. With Zinio you can read Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar for free – at the same time as the print comes out. When you do, just remember – beauty is fascinating, but fleeting.

Cover of Marie Claire (Italian) Cover of Vogue France Cover of Instyle Cover of Marie Claire Cover of Elle Cover of Esquire Cover of Nylon

Fash mags in our collection

Find more fashion magazines by searching on the subject Fashion – Periodicals and Clothing and dress – Periodicals.


See also our pages on:

Getting personal with the Daily Mail Historical Archive

Before the internet, people had to try and contact others in other ways – including the personals in newspapers. This meant a large array of mysterious private information could be found in every local rag – leading to those outside the circle wondering just what had gone on.

For example in the Daily Mail on 4 May 1896 Bessie’s family were begging for her to contact them, promising no further reproaches. I think a nagging mother worried about her daughter’s boyfriend choices has led to a family divide here. Or am I just reading my own life experiences into it? Well you do, don’t you?

Daily mail clip

“Multiple Classified Advertising Items.” Daily Mail [London, England] 4 May 1896: [1]. Daily Mail Historical Archive. Web. 20 July 2015.

Then there is Ivy who is drowning in marriage proposals but still thinking of “Oak” who made so many promises at the circus. I would like to say that “Oak” should have been in contact by now or he is just not that into you – a modern solution for a problem now over a hundred years old. This makes me a wee bit sad. I mean I want to know that Ivy and Bessie came out of all this ok?

Then there is Uncle Jim who sounds best left alone despite his niece’s pleas – but then again just what did he pawn? Diplomacy is also evident in the personals with a ‘’gentleman who took away by mistake” being kindly asked to return the trap and pony that had been left outside the Star and Garter. I mean it could have been taken by mistake? A pony and trap does not have its own pair of individual keys to make it go.

Reading these handful of personals from the Daily Mail Historical Archive 1896-2004 reminds me that problems never really change – money, love and family. Mums still make daughters crazy, men still make romantic promises they fail to keep, and people still lose things outside the pub today – just like they did 100 years ago.

For the history blobbers out there…

By my age you should know a few things about yourself. I know for example that I am a history buff and that I am lazy. My favourite place in the whole world is my couch with a good history book in one hand, a cup of tea in the other and a fat cat on my lap. Bliss.

A recent discovery of mine that appeals is a little goldmine called Gale Newsvault. While sitting in your long johns at home you can enter a few keywords and search across four hundred years of history in one go. Where else can you see the original reports on Jack the Ripper (Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003) or articles making fun of George Michael’s tan (Daily Mail Historical Archive 1896-2004)?

db-GaleNewsvault-CKEY708421In the 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection I can read eye-witness accounts of the voyages to New Zealand and the Boyd massacre or find out what personal attributes one needs to be a lady’s maid in 19th Century British Library Newspapers. Do I have a good character they all want to know? I am pretty sure I do, so I would never have attended the cock-fighting advertised in the Stanford Mercury in the Kings Arm’s on November 8th 1793.

You could easily lose hours cross searching 13 historical newspaper and magazine archives on Gale Newsvault. Which I have every intention of doing this weekend…

Rock’s Backpages are here!

Some of my earliest musical memories involve heated debates between my parents about what should be next on the record player. Mum wants ABBA and Dad wants Led Zeppelin. The compromise was Queen.

Everyone has musical memories and heroes. I had Madonna posters on the wall, even though Dad had nothing good to say about someone who takes crucifixes so lightly. Our latest eResource embraces and feeds our love for music by providing articles, reviews and interviews with the well-known – and not so well-known – musical artists that have haunted our hearing.

Rock’s backpages is a wonderful archive of musical journalism that covers from the 1950s until today. Just yesterday I spent half an hour listening to an interview with Robin Gibb talking about surviving the Hither Green railway crash which killed 49 people in 1967. This is an example of the random gems of information you come across while searching this eResource. Who hasn’t sung regardless of skill? Who hasn’t danced despite a lack of coordination? Dive into this new musical eResource from us and find your musical heroes waiting.

Led Zeppelin and Tchaikovsky

One of my earliest music memories is my Dad playing me Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. He was always more of a Led Zeppelin fan in truth, so his knowledge of classical music was surprising. Then again anyone who listens to the 1812 Overture with its cannon fire and chimes at the end would be forgiven in thinking this may have been the start of “heavy metal”.

I can and do stream the 1812 Overture on Naxos Music Library and Music Online. I only did it at work once and my productivity went up – true story. By the end of that piece of music I felt like I could run a marathon despite being stuck at my desk. I only did it once at work though, because people stared at my manic legs jiggling up and down and my hands waving invisible conductor batons.

If you enjoy music in all its forms then we have streaming eResources for you available 24/7. I mean who doesn’t want to listen to Turkish Hip Hop on Contemporary World Music? Or maybe watch Verdi’s La Traviata at the Royal Opera House in Convent Garden on Naxos Video Library? There is a huge range for everyone to help you rediscover past musical memories and make new ones. I think it was Dick Clark who said “music is the soundtrack to your life”. What will your soundtrack be? Mine started with cannon fire let us hope it doesn’t end with a whimper.

Farewell Ornette Coleman – Tomorrow Is Still the Question!

At home in your track pants? Go eBook, eMag and eResource

When I get home from work even a crowbar wouldn’t get me back into the cold and the congestion. If you are poor like me, then your entertainment options at night are limited. Luckily the library provides a number of solutions for getting through those dark and cold nights.

Cover of Donna Hay Cover of L'Uomo Vogue

You can:

  • Cook a decadent recipe from Donna Hay’s cooking eMagazines then look at the latest fashion in Vogue and feel bad about yourself with Zinio for Libraries;
  • Learn photoshop with to hide the consequences of comfort eating;
  • Download an eBook romance from Askews and steam up windows already wet with condensation;
  • Learn to speak Scottish Gaelic with Mango just in case that Scottish laird with a broken heart and rough ways does ever find you;
  • Indulge in some aural escapism in the form of Music Online and escape your families pleas for attention;
  • Start figuring out where it all went wrong with downloadable self improvement eAudiobooks with OverDrive then laugh away with recordings of Dad’s Army and Blackadder;
  • Read all the latest eNewspapers online with PressDisplay to remind yourself it could all be a lot worse!

Libraries are open online 24/7 for your research and recreational needs. Check out our eResources. On some levels we never shut. Which is good because just how many variations on cooking shows on TV can one person stomach?