Skip to Content

Library in Your Living Room


A Library in Your Living Room

OUP have just announced that, working in partnership with the Arts Council, public libraries in England will be able to provide library users with access to a myriad of fantastic reference works and language collections. Library users in Wales and Scotland will have access to the same facilities.

Anyone with membership to these libraries will be able to use their library card to get instant free access in the library or at home to the renowned Oxford English DictionaryWonderful online resource giving 'a truly astounding picture of the English language as an extraordinary living phenomenon' (Robert McCrum); Over 500,000 words and its companion resource Oxford Dictionaries Pro, as well as foremost reference including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford Reference Online, and Who’s Who, as well as many other resources.

Library members can access these in the space of their local library or can simply log in to the resources with a library card - from their home computer, mobile phone or tablet device, at the click of a button - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!   This means you really do have a library in your living room. If you’re not a library member, it’s worth joining just for this.

OUP’s references works are all based on well-researched books from leading scholars and writers, which means that the answers you find are completely accurate and reliable, and the whole enterprise is backed by the scholarly authority of the Oxford University Press name.

On hearing of the library deal, Philip Pullman commented that:  “the extraordinary riches contained in these great OUP books (though books seems a small word to contain the immense amount of information they offer) are now going to be available to the users of public libraries. When someone discovers a great treasure of Roman coins or Saxon gold, it makes headlines in the newspapers – well, so should this. It would be worth joining a public library for this alone, never mind all the other kinds of treasure the libraries hold.”

Join the library and you can explore the free resources available:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography- The home of over 58,000 meticulously researched biographies of people from all walks of British life. From film stars and physicists, to landed gentry and local heroes, the ODNB will help you delve into local history, research a school project, and check facts of births and death.

Oxford English Dictionary- Renowned as the ‘greatest dictionary in any language’, the OED traces the evolution of more than 600,000 words over the last 1,500 years.  As a historical dictionary, it illustrates how a word is used and how the meaning of a word has changed over time. The OED is for everyone who wants to know the meaning, history or pronunciation of a word, from language lovers and word game enthusiasts, to students and professionals the world over.

Oxford Reference- Soon to relaunch, Oxford Reference can tell you almost anything about everything. As a vast collection of encyclopedias, subject dictionaries, language dictionaries, reference books and Oxford Companions, it offers over 1.7 million facts and definitions with information on anything, from food and drink to anatomy and science fiction.

Oxford Dictionaries Pro-  Up-to-date online English dictionaries, thesauruses, and writing guidance on Oxford Dictionaries Pro makes this go-to place for quick-search access to definitions, words, and phrases. It also offers expert advice on style, usage, spelling, and grammar, which makes it the perfect and quick resource for everyone who needs to write and communicate in English, whether in their profession, their studies, or at home.

These are just a few of the resources available in the library. Local libraries may also provide access to Who’s Who and Who Was Who, Oxford Language Dictionaries Online, Grove Art Online and Grove Music Online.  Check out what your local library provides here:


All of this easily accessible reference is very useful for writers.



© Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. 2012