Research, reference and online courses

A list of online resources to help learning and research.

British Film Institute replay

Thousands of digitised videos and television programmes from the British Film Institute National Archive and partner UK regions and nations film archives are available to browse and enjoy, research or study - with some familiar and memorable, others rare and unseen for decades. Due to licences this resource can only be accessed in the library.

Britannica library

Free access to the online version of the world famous encyclopaedia, offering trusted information from 3 sites in one: Britannica online, Britannica Junior online, Britannica Student online. Choose the age-appropriate level that works best for you, to easily carry out research, complete homework assignments and work on special projects. You can even store your research in you own personal 'My Britannica ' account.

Access the Britannica Library site then enter your library card number in the log in box to begin searching.

Access the Britannica Library site

Oxford reference

"A Library in Your Living Room" - free online access to some of the world's most trusted reference works:

Oxford Reference offers over 2 million entries across 25 different subject areas, giving unrivalled coverage of everything from art to accountancy, politics to physics, and computing to classics. There is also a personalized area, My Work, where users can save their own searches and content pages, as well as annotations.

You can search for 300,000 overview pages, 2 million facts and definitions and 16,000 plus illustrations.

Search on the Oxford Reference website

Learn My Way

Learn My Way is a website of free online learning for beginners, helping you develop digital skills to make the most of the online world. You can sign up for free on their website.

Sign up for free on the Learn My Way website

Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history and pronunciation of 600,000 words - past and present - from across the English speaking world. The print edition has 20 volumes but you can look a word up in the online version, quickly and easily.

Search the Oxford English Dictionary website

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which contains 50,000 specially written, illustrated biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of Britain's past.

Search the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland is the ultimate reference work on family names of the UK, covering English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Cornish, and immigrant surnames. It includes every surname that currently has more than 100 bearers, and those that had more than 20 bearers in the 1881 census.

Each entry contains lists of variant spellings of the name, an explanation of its origins (including the etymology), lists of early bearers showing evidence for formation and continuity from the date of formation down to the 19th century, geographical distribution, and, where relevant, genealogical and bibliographical notes, making this a fully comprehensive work on family names.

This authoritative guide also includes an introductory essay explaining the historical background, formation, and typology of surnames and a guide to surnames research and family history research. Additional material also includes a list of published and unpublished lists of surnames from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Search the Oxford reference website

The New Oxford Shakespeare Online

The New Oxford Shakespeare Online is a dynamic, interactive resource which presents an entirely new consideration of all of Shakespeare's works, edited from the base-texts themselves, and drawing on the latest textual and theatrical scholarship.

The Modern Critical Edition includes a complete Shakespeare for students and teachers provided in modernised spelling for reading and study.

The Critical Reference Editions provides original spelling from folio and quarto copy-texts detailed critical apparatus supports chosen readings and emendations.

The Authorship Companion provides the editorial principles of the edition for literary scholars and will constitute a major contribution to the debates over what Shakespeare wrote.

Search the New Oxford Shakespeare Online website

Oxford Dictionaries

Oxford Dictionaries is a trusted first point of reference for the language of today, when you need to know the meaning or pronunciation of a word, how to translate it into another language, or whether you're using it correctly. Search for:

  • English definitions and synonyms
  • English grammar and usage
  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian

Search the Oxford Dictionaries website

Oxford Bibliographies

Developed cooperatively with scholars and librarians worldwide, Oxford Bibliographies offers exclusive, authoritative research guides. Combining the best features of an annotated bibliography and a high-level encyclopedia, this cutting-edge resource guides researchers to the best available scholarship across a wide variety of subjects.

Search the Oxford Bibliographies website

The Digital Business Academy

The Digital Business Academy offers eleven free online courses designed by digital experts and delivered by established institutions including UCL, Cambridge Business School and Founder Centric.

Funded by the government, you don't need any qualifications to do the courses, and will gain insights into essential areas including how to start a digital business, develop digital products, marketing and branding and creating digital marketing campaigns.

On finishing these courses you can apply for a career enhancing rewards and opportunities offered by industry partners such as Microsoft, Tech City, Hootsuite and many more digital companies.

To find out more read the Digital Business Academy website

Computer School's (TTD) Technology Training Directory

The Computer School's (TTD) Technology Training Directory is perfect for all levels of I.T. understanding and skill (beginners to advanced). There are more than 10,000 plus lessons and tutorials covering an extensive and varied range of topics:

  • Computer and Technology Basics
  • Internet Safety and Security
  • Cyber-Bullying
  • Cyber-Safety
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • Android
  • Adobe
  • Google
  • Social Networking
  • Digital Photography

Search the Computer School's (TTD) Technology Training Directory

Access to Research

Discover a world of published academic research at your local library.

Students, independent researchers and small businesses can now access many of the world's best academic papers through their local libraries, a result of a unique collaboration between librarians and publishers, who have made their journal content available for free.

Over 1.5 million academic articles are available for research from all Cumberland Libraries public computers.

Unfortunately, due to licensing restrictions we are unable to offer this service to users at home, but the following two links provide free access to research content:

For more information read the Access to Research website

Oxford American National Biography

Discover the lives of more than 19,000 men and women from all eras and walks of life who have influenced American history and culture in the acclaimed American National Biography Online. The entries explore the historical events, social movements, ideologies, and more surrounding these distinguished figures, for researchers of any level.

The wealth of biographies are supplemented with over 900 articles from The Oxford Companion to United States History, and over 2,500 illustrations and photographs enrich the biographical content.

Research guides with lists of related articles and web links to external archival and library resources are also provided, expanding research options for anyone interested in American History.

For more information read the American National Biography website

Help for foreign nationals is an online study resource for candidates preparing for the Life in the UK test or British citizenship test. This is a comprehensive and proven study package. It includes an online version of the latest official study materials licensed from the Home Office, the people who write the handbook plus hundreds of practice test questions in the same format as the official test.

Our local libraries also run regular English Cafes in which you can meet others who have English as a second language and learn the language in a relaxed and fun environment.

If you don't have a library card you can join the library online.

For more information read:


Westmorland and Furness libraries provides access to digital media from a range of providers. Use of these services are subject to the provider's terms and conditions. Cumberland Libraries accepts no responsibility for materials accessed from the provider. Parents or guardians are responsible for guiding young people in their use of these services whether these are accessed on the internet or apps.