In the run-up to the major Christian festival of Christmas, the display of books from the Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library is focusing on the period of rapid change in Western European Christianity known… More
Our Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library display for October marks Black History Month with a showcase of writers from around the world. From literary giants like James Baldwin and Langston Hughes to unjustly neglected writers like Bessie Head, our display is a starting point from which to explore black voices.
Among many from the Americas we have: Zora Neale Hurston, who portrays the harsh realities of life in the Deep South in nevertheless rich poetic language; Ralph Ellison whose prose urges the reader to confront the painful truths of political struggle; Maya Angelou and Alice Walker whose appearance on the literary scene in the 1980s offered a view of black women’s lives written from the inside.
African writers like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe and more recent British voices like those of Aminatta Forna, Colin Grant and Jackie Kay investigate cultural dislocations and rediscoveries of heritage across continents.
We have interspersed our biographies this month with the works of some of these writers and hope you will enjoy both.
We are inaugurating a new strand of our displays this month, which will link some of the books in our Biography Store Collection to current film and TV, and also commemorate those famous people who have recently died. So this month, as the film “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” comes out, we have books on A. A. and Christopher Milne, and on Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe who are portrayed in the film “Borg vs. McEnroe”. Sad news of the death of Liz Dawn prompted us to display her autobiography.
The Biography Store Team at Kensington Central Library
This year’s Silver Sunday programme launches in the borough on Sunday 1 October.
Kensington and Chelsea residents who are 65 years of age or over are invited to participate in an amazing week long programme of mostly free activities and events to celebrate their contribution to community life.
The aim is to increase health and well-being by reducing social isolation through introducing older residents to new activities, meeting new people and staying active and involved in their communities. Some activities are held regularly throughout the year and others are one-off events delivered specifically for Silver Sunday.
If you are not able to get out and about due to physical limitations or ill health, and want to join in from the comfort of your own home, the Phone Club is a free and friendly activity that you can take part in on Monday and Thursday during Silver Sunday week and throughout the year too. Topics include: current affairs, health, food and culture.On 1 October why not join in and –
- take the opportunity of visiting the Design Museum, the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary design, at its new location in Kensington High Street and explore your creative side with a range of design briefs (tea, coffee and cake provided)
- grab your dancing shoes and join in the Open Age dance-a-thon with fantastic music and instructors
- discover what goes on behind the scenes at the English National Ballet and take part in their artistic dance activity which improves physical and mental health and well-being through creative expression
- join a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground and then relax with an afternoon tea and watch a cricket match
- add a little colour to your windowsill or balcony by planting up winter pansies and spring bulbs at Sybil Thorndike House in Earl’s Court (planter, compost and flowers/bulbs provided as well as refreshments)
- visit 18 Stafford Terrace (the preserved Victorian family home of Punch cartoonist Linley Sambourne) and discover what life was like back then
These are just some of the events that you can choose from and you don’t have to go on your own – why not invite a friend, family member or carer to join you.
You can find the full programme of events on the borough’s website – most activities and events are free of charge, some have limited space and others need to be booked in advance.
You can also see what else is happening near by and right across the UK on the Silver Sunday website.
While many of us will be familiar with major actors such as Gandhi, Jinnah, Mountbatten, and Nehru, staff researching for the display this month discovered that, for example, in 1905 Curzon, as viceroy, divided Bengal into two administrative divisions along roughly religious lines, though the resulting political crisis led to re-unification in 1911.
Also on the British ‘side’, a new viceroy, Minto, took over in 1906, and Kitchener was also involved in events around this time as British military chief in India.
Edwin Montagu, as Secretary of State for India, was responsible in 1919 for several reforms that gave Indians more influence in India.
Atlee and Cripps of the post-War Labour government were also involved, the former having been a supporter of Indian independence for years.
There were also many less well-known politically active individuals from the Indian ‘side’ at the time, including one woman, Sarojini Naidu, a poet, and the first woman to become the governor of an Indian state (United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, 1947-49).
Maulana Azad, the senior Muslim leader of the Indian National Congress, promoted Hindu-Muslim unity, secularism, and socialism, and was prominent in the development of education in India after independence.
Subhas Chandra Bose, another senior Congress politician, later fell out with other Congress leaders and tried to end British rule in India with the help of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during World War II.
The Biography Store Team at Kensington Central Library
We just had to share these lovely pictures with you all – Kensal Library held a very special baby rhyme time on Friday last week to celebrate National Bookstart Week 2017.
There was lots of singing and dancing as prompted by Bookstart’s chosen book ‘Everybunny Dance’ by Ellie Sandall. Each child received a copy of the book plus a special rhyme sheet and a pair of cute bunny ears.
All the children had a fun time and loved the story followed by some great rhymes like Sleeping Bunnies and Jelly on a Plate.
Don’t worry if you missed out last week, Kensal Library’s baby rhyme time is every Friday, 10.30 to 11am – hope to see you there soon!
The staff at Kensal Library
This week (Monday 5 to Sunday 11 June 2017), is National Bookstart Week and this year is an extra special celebration as Bookstart is 25 years old!
BookTrust, the organisation that administers the Bookstart programme, encourages children and families to read more. Over these 25 years, they have gifted more than 34 million books to children.
Bookstart currently gives free books and resources to every child in England and Wales, at two key ages before school, to help inspire a love of books and encourage shared reading.
This year’s special National Bookstart Week book is Ellie Sandall’s Everybunny Dance and many libraries will be reading this story and special rhymes to do with the great outdoors and we have many copies of this book to give away. Check out the times of the toddler mornings at your nearest Kensington and Chelsea library.
It’s never too young to share a story or a rhyme with your young ones so come along have some fun and start or continue your child’s journey to a life of reading for pleasure. Sharing stories is of huge benefit to children, particularly when done from an early age.
Children who regularly have books shared with them benefit in lots of ways:
- better emotional health
- children develop longer attention spans and wider vocabularies
- it builds their language skills
- and in the long term helps them to be better readers and learners.
All this by sharing a book together for a few minutes each day. Just 10 minutes spent sharing a story with a child each day can have a lasting impact.
Tri-borough Libraries Children’s Services Manager
To get us in the mood for next month’s Wimbledon Tennis Championships, our Biography Collection display for June (in the foyer of the Lending Library at Kensington Central Library) features stars of the Wimbledon courts from the distant and more recent past.
One of the most interesting features of our unique collection is that its huge breadth and scope (over 80,000 volumes spanning more than two centuries) allows the opportunity to rediscover names that have receded over the decades, as well as those we grew up with (who in the 50-ish age group can forget the flowing hairstyles and theatrical tantrums of Wimbledon in the 70s?!) and those we’ll be hearing a lot of again over the next few weeks.
So, we’ll be displaying a fascinating book on Maud Watson, who was the first ever Ladies’ Singles champion in 1884 (though the MBE she eventually received was not for her tennis glory but for her work as a nurse during the First World War). Victorian modesty prevailed even on the courts, and it is difficult to imagine how she played at all in a floor length skirt over corset and petticoats. Alongside her will be much more recent, glossily illustrated books on the likes of Andy Murray and Serena Williams.
I have to admit my knowledge of tennis could be written on a ticket for Centre Court, but the stories in these books cover universal themes of ambition, glory, struggle and how emotions and relationships are managed in the glare of publicity and the rigour of remorseless training from a very young age. And that thwack of ball on racket, against the cheers and groans of the crowd, must be one of the most evocative sounds of this time of year.
If you would like to learn more about our special collection of biographies, we will be having an event on Wednesday 14 June, from 2 to 3pm as part of the Festival of Learning. We will be giving an introduction to the collection and then a chance to look at some of our most interesting books. Book a free place at your nearest Kensington and Chelsea library.
And we have more info here about our other Festival of Learning events.
The Biography Store Team at Kensington Central Library
Hot on the winged heels of Mental Health Awareness week (thank you to all colleagues and partners who helped get that information out there) we are promoting Dementia Awareness Week (14 to 21 May 2017), an Alzheimer’s Society initiative, in our libraries. There are so many myths around Dementia and that is why we recommend the Reading Well books on prescription dementia list.
This is a varied carefully chosen collection consisting of evidenced and researched information books, alongside fascinating and moving personal histories. It also includes a children’s picture book to help younger readers understand beloved members of their families who have been diagnosed with one of 100 conditions that come under the umbrella of Dementia. Check out the craft book for creative ways of engaging those living well with Dementia. It is a helpful and uplifting collection.
The second initiative I want tell you about is the Dementia Friends sessions happening this week which are run by a trained Dementia champion. They are relaxed and informative sessions that engage us in such a way that unhelpful fears and misinformation around the subject can be openly discussed and real facts and practical tips on creating Dementia friendly services and how to reach out and support those living well with Dementia come to light.
There are Dementia Friends sessions later this week at two libraries in our neighbouring borough, Westminster. These sessions are open to everyone and I urge you to recommend them or even come along yourself:
Health Information Co-ordinator
Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –
Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’
I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.
Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.
Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions. Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.
One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and in the West London Clinical Commissioning Group area there is Time to Talk, a free psychological therapy service.
In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.
The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led Book Break groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.
It is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’ All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.
Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.
There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or see what eBooks and eMagazines we have. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?
See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.
Health Information Co-ordinator
Pop in to your local Kensington and Chelsea library on Saturday 6 May for Free Comic Book Day!
Free Comic Book Day is an international celebration of all things comics – taking place on the first Saturday in May, it is a day where new titles are released, and comic shops giveaway free issues – we are also taking part, courtesy of the grand folks at Forbidden Planet who are providing the comics.
Free Comic Book Day is perfect for both hard-core collector fans and those whose interest has been piqued for the first time.
Enthusiasts of the comic book / graphic novel form will tell of the inventive artwork to stun and amaze – the array of characters, from superhero to regular Joe. The different universes on offer and running plot lines that will be hard to forget.
Explore all this and more at one of our libraries, please ask staff for your free comic book. We have three titles to give out, while stocks last – head on in before missing out.
Discover characters including Wonder Woman, DC superhero girls plus look out for the Forbidden Planet exclusive variant of the Doctor Who title too, featuring the Doctor with new assistant, Bill.
Why not check out the graphic novel selection or the DVDs available while you are there and see what else your local Kensington and Chelsea library has to offer?
Did you know that Kensington Central Library is home to the Biography Collection? It contains approximately 80,000 books with over 1,000 new titles added each year. One of our readers has said that it ‘equals the British Library.’
It began as part of the Metropolitan Special Collection which was set up among the London boroughs in the 1950s. Every title in the collection is available to view and borrow.
Every month, the library staff put together a display from the collection; this month’s display features the Kennedy family to mark the centenary of the birth of the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy on 29 May.
Click here for more information on the collection.
Tim Reid, Kensington Central Library