‘Phlebotomy made easy?’ : a day with W.F. Howes

WF Howes showroom event: 14th-16th May at the Grange Langham Court Hotel, London

Contributed by: Lynn

Although many of their products have passed through my hands over the years, this was my first time attending a WFH showroom event.  These events offer an opportunity for library staff to browse and order audiobooks, playaways and large print stock and for the company to meet their clients face to face and promote their online services.

The day included a presentation on WF Howes’ digital services including One Click digital, which our libraries use. It provides our readers with access to a collection of e-audiobooks which they can download for free. The good news for digital content borrowers is that Pimsleur language courses and titles from Audiogo (unabridged audiobooks as well as BBC radio recordings) are being added to One Click.

We also heard about Zinio, which is an e-magazine service and is described as the ‘world’s largest newsstand’ offering hundreds of the best complete digital magazines.  Another product on offer is Universal Class, an educational service providing online courses for library users. There are over 350 courses covering a range of subjects from spiritual studies to cooking. These courses consist of video based lessons with tests, writing and hands on assignments.

 I looked at the complete list of courses available when I got back to the office and there are some very interesting sounding ones including ‘Angel healing’, ‘Trick horse training’, ‘Working with your animal allies, teachers and totems’ and my personal favourite, ‘Phlebotomy made easy’. Special mention must also go to the online Universal Class course entitled ‘How to take an online course at Universal Class’.

The final presentation was by Simon Cox on LibraryPressDisplay, an online collection of over 2300 national & international newspapers from 97 countries covering 55 different languages (it was emphasised that this is not an archive service – back issues are only kept for 90 days). These digital papers are complete replicas of the physical editions. We were shown the different ways you can search for information on the site (e.g by the publication title, country, language, person, subject and date) or narrow your search to specific areas of the newspapers (e.g business pages or sports sections). The site also allows you to translate newspaper pages into other languages, email articles and even have the text read out to you if you are visually impaired (or just too lazy to read it yourself!).

With so much information available at the click of a mouse, I did find it interesting to learn that the most popular search on the site is for … well here’s a clue: Puzzles in which an arrangement of numbered squares are to be filled with words running both across and down in answer to correspondingly numbered clues (10 letters).*

The event also included a talk from author Rowan Coleman, a writer of romantic fiction who also writes teen horror fiction under the name Rook Hastings. She started her talk by saying how much libraries meant to her as a child and how, growing up dyslexic, she felt that, although she probably read books in a completely different way to everyone else, every book she borrowed was a gateway to another world. She re-iterated her support for public libraries and said all her writer friends felt exactly the same. She then went on to tell us the story behind her latest book ‘Dearest Rose’.

She had been looking for an idea for her next book and decided to ask her Facebook friends for subjects that they would like her to write about. To her surprise, the topic which came up again and again was domestic violence. She then asked for people’s stories of domestic abuse and received 400 emails from women describing their experiences. At that time, this was about a third of all her friends on Facebook!

She was so moved by the responses that she decided that she definitely needed to write about this decidedly unromantic topic. So she set about writing the novel.  She said it wasn’t easy and at times she really wanted to give up, but she persevered and when the book was published the positive feedback she received from her many readers confirmed to her that it had been the right decision to tackle the issue in her fiction. The book won the Festival of Romance’s Best Romantic Read Award in 2012 and Romantic Novel of the year (RoNA) Best Epic Romantic Novel 2013.

My day ended with Sean Melvin who is the Digital Products Manager demonstrating Universal Languages Online to myself and Janet, my line manager. He has been using it in his spare time to learn one of the Slavic languages, so was more than happy to show us how easy it is to use, while wowing us with the Bulgarian phrases he had learned so far!

(*yes, crosswords!)

(If you would like to read or listen to ‘Dearest Rose’ we have a copy of the paperback available here and an audio version here.)