Cumbria Libraries - Research, Reference and Online Courses

Britannica main

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.

Britannica Library guided tour brochure (PDF 745KB)

Oxford reference1

"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. Enter the Oxford Reference website to start searching the 300,000 overview pages, 2 million facts and definitions and 16,000+ illustrations!

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.

Oxford DNB

Search 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.


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.

Oxford Shakespeare

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 New Oxford Shakespeare Online includes:

The Modern Critical Edition
• A complete Shakespeare for students and teachers
• Provided in modernised spelling for reading and study

The Critical Reference Edition
• Provided in 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
• Will constitute a major contribution to the debates over what Shakespeare wrote

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, and English grammar and usage, as well as Spanish, French, German and Italian dictionaries.

oup 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.

Future Learn

FutureLearn , owned by The Open University, is a social learning platform based in the UK. Offering free online courses from over 20 of the world's leading universities and institutions, the modules are delivered one step at a time and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop. Learners can fit learning around their lives, rather than their lives around learning. View the range of free courses on offer and register.

Digital 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, Hootesuite and many more digital companies.

Computer school

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+ 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 and much more. It's an incredibly fast, accurate and user-friendly computer and technology learning resource. 

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 Cumbria Libraries public pc's. 

Unfortunately, due to licensing restrictions we are unable to offer this service to users at home, but the following 2 links provide free access to research content
Core and Base

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.

British Way of Life

The British Way of Life is an easy to use, comprehensive program to help new arrivals understand the British way of life.

Some of the many topics covered by The British Way of Life  are: the different types of visa, finding a job, pre-school for children, further adult education and the communication network, as well as public transport, staying safe in your home, house and car insurance and much more....

When prompted enter your library card number or cumb123.

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

Life in the UK tests

Applying for British citizenship


Cumbria Libraries provides access to digital media from a range of providers. Use of these services are subject to the provider's terms and conditions.  

Cumbria 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.