Lewisham Council Homepage Skip navigation

Learning in libraries

Lifelong learning is about learning for leisure and interest (informal learning), as well as for college or work (formal learning).

Our libraries are the best places to find out about and pursue lifelong learning, because they have a wide range of resources, a relaxed atmosphere and helpful staff.

Find out about the range of library services for children and young people.

Homework resources

We have a wide range of free, quality databases that can help young people with their homework.

Oxford Reference
Access a vast online reference library containing over 212 titles covering a variety of topics including science, history and the arts. Oxford Reference combines in-depth content with authoritative, quick-reference coverage.

Britannica Junior
Britannica Junior is aimed at 5–11-year-olds. It is a fantastic resource for homework, projects and assignments. Key features include News of the Day, Explore the Animal Kingdom, Word Wall, Geography Explorer Game & World Atlas.

Credo Reference
Credo Reference is a giant online reference library that enables you to search more than 3 million full text articles in 1,138 reference books. It includes encyclopaedias, dictionaries, thesauri and books of quotations covering everything from art to accountancy and literature to law.

Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
The OED is a historical dictionary. This means you will still find present-day meanings in the OED but you will also find the history of individual words, and of the language.

Historical Newspapers

We have newspapers dating back to 1785. Find out how stories were reported, what people were doing, as well as what types of products were being advertised. Newspapers include:

  • 19th Century British Library Newspapers, 1800-1860
  • Times Digital Archive 1785 to 2007
  • Illustrated London News Historical Archive 1842 to 2003

Free instructional books

We have many instructional books providing information on lots of different topics. Two of the best known and longest running series are the For Dummies and Haynes Guides. We also have other non-fiction titles that give you a well-researched view on various topics. Topics include:

  • Politics and current affairs
    We have lots of quality magazines such as the Economist and the New Scientist which have well-researched articles tackling complex and current subjects
  • Careers
    Thinking of changing jobs? Find out more about people in the careers you are interested in by reading their biographies.
  • Health
    Learn more about staying healthy or managing a long term health condition.

You can find books in our catalogue or in our eLibrary.

English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

We have a wide range of resources for people learning English. These include:

  • quick reads
  • dictionaries & grammar guides, including the Oxford English Dictionary
  • basic skills books
  • IELTs and practice exams
  • eBooks/eAudio
  • multilingual books, magazines, newspapers and films.

Family history

Family history resources help you find out more about your family tree and the history of Lewisham. Topics our resources can help you with include:

  • tracing your ancestors from 1066 to 1837
  • tracing your ancestors through family photographs
  • tracing your criminal ancestors
  • tracing your ancestors through local history records
  • tracing your Caribbean ancestors
  • tracing your house history.

For more in-depth family history resources, please contact the Local History and Archives Centre. You can also use free birth, death and marriage records, or other online source such as Free UK Genealogy.

Free courses and classes at a library

Many of our library branches have free classes and courses run by library staff or by the community. We have courses for both adults and children. These include coding courses for children, digital support sessions for adults, and CV skills sessions. We also host many community health organisations.

Check the noticeboards or social media of your local branch to see what classes are available. 

Free eResources and courses

There are a wide range of online resources you can use to learn for free. You can access these from anywhere including library PCs.

The British Library’s Business & IP Centre
Develop your business ideas with their market research and company databases.

Digital Garage from Google
Free courses from Google about mastering digital marketing.

Companies House
Get free information about a company, its directors and partners. You can also find out the amount of money a company has made and whether the company is still running.

MOOCs offers free courses on a range of topics from project management to dentistry. You can access these from anywhere including library PCs.

ALISON is one of the world’s largest free online learning platforms, providing courses on business and enterprise, languages and health literacy all at diploma level.

Choose from hundreds of free online courses from language and culture to science and technology.

Never used the Internet? Do you want to learn?

Then come to one of our libraries and use Learn My Way, the easy way to find out how  to use the internet.

Learn My Way is a free, simple introduction to the internet and the wealth of services that are available. Learn how to surf the web quickly and without any fuss. You can access Learn My Way from anywhere including library PCs.

Please contact the following libraries for further information and to book free sessions.


Library Service

London Borough Of Lewisham Third Floor, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London, SE6 4RU