Welcome to the RBKC Libraries blog…

Kensington Central Reference Library
Kensington Central Reference Library

Welcome to our new blog, where we hope to entertain and inform you about everything to do with Kensington and Chelsea’s libraries! Sign up for posts about fun things that that we do, events that we’ve organised, what our bookclubs think about their current read, and more. We’ll also be posting regularly about our special collections, so you can find out more about the treasures we have on our shelves…

Lots happening at Kensal Library this month

Go Golborne

Go Golborne returned to Kensal Library on Tuesday 23 February for more fun, fruit, dancing and Handa.  The children were treated to a retelling of Handa’s Surprise and learnt all about the benefits of healthy eating with some delicious fruit kebabs.

Go Golbourne 2

Beautiful colourful bracelets were created and as one parent said:

“The jewellery making brought everyone together”.

Go Golbourne Braclets

In the February half term we celebrated the day when Teddy bears first went on sale, 15 February 1903 by making our own felt bears.  A lot of cutting, sticking and decorating later and there were some wonderful bears.  I managed to grab a photo of some of the bears before they all left to go to a picnic apparently!

Go Golbourne Crafts

We have loads of books in our library on bracelet making, these are just a few examples:

Our Easter story & craft will be on Monday 4 April from 3pm to 4pm.  We look forward to seeing you then.


Spring Crafts

Spring was definitely in the air at Kensal Library on Saturday 12 March at our Story & craft session.
We made beautiful pinwheel daffodils.

Daffadils for spring

After much bending, stapling and sticking the children made some very pretty, colourful flowers.
It was a gorgeous sunny day and the daffodils really brightened up the library. Smaller versions will be made, to use on our spring display.

If you are free this Easter and want to do some paper crafts yourself or with children, we have loads of ideas in our libraries. Please see the search list for items and the examples below.

The next Story & craft session at Kensal Library, will be on Saturday 9 April.



Sledge: The Soul of Notting Hill

The phrase ‘One Love’  is a part of the philosophy of Rasta. The centre piece is an artwork, entitled ‘Mama  Africa by Mortimo Planno. History on Mortimo Planno is featured in ’s book ‘ Sledge: The Soul of Notting Hill’


One Love mini exhibition

M G Robinson came to Shepherds Bush library on the 19th December 2015 to talk about her book Sledge: The Soul of Notting Hill




Sledge was an iconic figure of the famous Portobello Road and part of the rich cultural history of the area.

Robinson wrote this book to document the life and times of her father; Sledge. Her book reveals the very significant transnational connection between Jamaica and London, in terms of culture, music and ideology.

Her talk at Shepherds Bush Library attracted an eclectic audience; multicultural; young and old. It was a real delight to see people coming together to discuss local history; contributions from the audience were welcomed, memories were shared and questions asked. A few people took notes to do follow up research.

The significance of the talk lay in the fact that local history was being verbally imparted from a woman who had actually lived it. Robinson has taken the time to record and share this knowledge with a wider audience to inform and educate.

An awesome slideshow put together by Tom Vague, (local historian and pop journalist) accompanied the talk featuring amongst others, photos of Sledge, the band Aswad, and shots of the Portobello and All Saint’s Road, over the years.

Considering the times we live in, bringing people together to share experiences, to learn and realise their common interests and stories serves to strengthen community spirit and helps us acknowledge the greater historical interconnectedness of all of our lives.

M G Robinson’s next talk will be:

  • North Kensington Library
  • 108 Ladbroke Grove,
  • London W11 1PZ
  • Saturday March 5th 2.30-4.30pm

Book your free place via Eventbrite

Zena Naidu
Senior Customer Service Assistant, Shepherds Bush Library

Harry Potter, Magical Creatures and Architecture competition

Motivated by Harry Potter’s world of magic, history, fantastic architecture, myths and legends, we invited our customers to search for magical creatures, animals, gargoyles, saints, caryatids and crests on various buildings and monuments in London and take photographs.

Since London has astonishing architectural features in abundance, to find lions, dragons or witches and nymphs, fairies and angels, would not be a difficult task.

My aim was to focus on and celebrate historic London architecture.

Harry Potter Library Display, North Kensington
Harry Potter Library Display, North Kensington

The collage poster featured some iconic London buildings and monuments. I approached these establishments and asked whether they could donate one prize for best entries of the competition.

I was delighted when St Pancras Renaissance Hotel replied.  Miss Madeleine Duxbury, from St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, shared on Twitter our photo competition and awarded nine-year-old Marko Popovic’s entry with a meal for two in their MI + ME restaurant.

MI+ME Restaurant, Kings Cross, St Pancras
MI+ME Restaurant, Kings Cross, St Pancras

MI+ME is housed on the Upper Terrace of St Pancras, overlooking the Eurostar trains and next to Paul Day’s sculpture ‘The Meeting Place’. Unlike on the Hogwarts Express, where you can buy all sorts of magical sweets, leaping chocolate frogs and pastries, in the Victorian era the trains had Milk and Meat carriages, to which MI + ME’s name pays homage, mirroring the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London’s railway heritage.

St Pancras Station, Renaissance Hotel, London
St Pancras Station, Renaissance Hotel, London

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel with its Neo-Gothic architecture, lions, snakes, dragons and various other magical creatures featured significantly in the photo competition ‘Magical Creatures and Architecture’. This magnificent building brings Harry Potter books and films to life. Klaudija Cermak , our special guest  and a real wizard of digital effects in two Harry Potter films, helped us to choose the winner of the competition.


by Zvezdana Popovic,
Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library

Chris Riddell Display at Brompton Library

Christian, Brompton Library Customer Services Assistant, writes…

Chris Riddell was appointed Children’s Laureate in June in recognition of his prolific body of work as an illustrator and writer of children’s literature. Originally a political cartoonist for The Economist and currently The Observer (check out his drawings of Putin on the Iron Throne and other disturbingly accurate caricatures of our politicians), he is now best known for his beautifully detailed illustrations of strange characters, monsters and fantastic creatures in books for kids, most notably the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart.

Beautiful and intricate drawings from Riddell
Beautiful and intricate drawings from Riddell

We wanted to pay our respects to this home-grown talent with a humble display showcasing some of the books available in our libraries that feature his work. Resident library assistant and fellow illustrator, David Bushell created the poster and found a great selection of titles which have proved to be popular with the younger readers.

Our tribute to Chris Riddell
Our tribute to Chris Riddell

You can find more titles by Chris Riddell on the library catalogue.


Sir Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

Katie Collis, Brompton Library, writes: Here at Brompton Library we thought it would be fitting to celebrate the life of Sir Terry Pratchett, whose books were loved by millions of people all over the world.

I asked the staff at Brompton which books they particularly liked and, not surprisingly, I had very different responses.

Christian: “As a kid I loved comedy shows on TV, everything from Fry and Laurie to Red Dwarf and The Detectives but when it came to reading, I was only interested in dark horror books by Stephen King and James Herbert or science fiction comics. Terry Pratchett changed all of that for me.

When a friend introduced me to the Discworld novels I became addicted to the series, as it seemed to capture the kind of Monty Python humour that I loved, but in a fantasy novel setting. I really connected with the sarcasm and humour of the characters, especially Rincewind the Wizard and Death who seemed to possess very human qualities despite such a fantastical setting. Terry Pratchett should rightly be remembered as a national treasure, whose quintessentially British wit and incredible imagination will be enjoyed by young and older readers for a very long time to come. RIP Sir.”

Elisabeth: “There is nobody quite like Terry Pratchett. His books could be sly and tongue-in-cheek, but always witty and warm too. The first book I read was ‘Guards! Guards!’ after which I wanted to read more about this fantastic world he had created. There were so many enjoyable characters: Captain Vimes and Constable Carrot – and not forgetting the Librarian!”

Librarian, Terry Pratchett Discworld series
The Librarian, illustration by Paul Kidby

Katie: “At school, I watched lots of children devouring Pratchett’s books but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I randomly picked up ‘Good Omens’ (which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman) and instantly loved the world and characters they both created. I really enjoyed the TV productions of ‘The Colour of Magic’ and other Discworld programmes which led me onto reading his books. I really admired his unflinching and unsentimental approach to his illness and his contributions to developing treatments for Alzheimer’s and dementia. In this he has left a legacy and a legion of books that will be loved again and again.”

Terry Pratchett display Brompton Library
Terry Pratchett book display at Brompton Library

Christmas has arrived at Brompton Library!

Steph, Librarian at Brompton Library, writes: 

Brompton has now swung into full Christmas mode! We had our first Christmas craft session last Saturday and the youngsters decorated little card Christmas trees with glitter and all manner of sticky things. Their parents and carers were delighted!

Glue, sequins, paper...Christmas fun!
Glue, sequins, paper…Christmas fun!

Elisabeth has created an Advent Christmas tree and adds a new box to it every day for the children to decorate (I don’t know where she gets all her great ideas for the kids!)

Advent tree
Advent tree

For the grown-ups we have our terribly tasteful Christmas tree complete with presents (library stock) underneath for the taking plus our hand-picked display of Christmassy books, CDs and films.

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!


Christmas music, books and more!
Christmas music, books and more!

For the rest of this month we have another Christmas craft session for children this Friday– please join us!

From Monday 15th December onwards the staff will be initiating the public who may be giving or receiving tablets and e-book readers into how to download our new, improved collection.

Matisse meets Pharrell at North Kensington Children’s library

Zvezdana Popovic, North Kensington Senior Customer Services Assistant, writes…

Come and see the amazing display created by the children of North Kensington Library.

Matisse meets Pharrell – Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth!
Matisse meets Pharrell – Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth!

It all began with just five pieces of art produced at our June Art and Craft session inspired by Matisse’s Cut-outs exhibition at Tate Modern. Soon everybody wanted to make and add their own pieces. Suddenly we had cut outs of hands all over the place – and if you have more hands, the natural thing to do is to CLAP!

So we clapped and the idea was born …

Matisse display (2) Matisse display (3) Matisse display (6) Matisse display (7)

We named our display: Matisse meets Pharrell – Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.

Matisse meets Pharrell!
Matisse meets Pharrell!


“I always felt, if I can get to a library, I’ll be ok”

Honour the memory of the inspiring, talented, courageous Maya Angelou by visiting your library: in her words, “I always felt, if I can get to a library, I’ll be ok”

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014


Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou

Fashion on display- new images at Chelsea Library

Reference Librarian, Gillian Nunns, writes:

Chelsea Reference Library had a bit of space on the wall above our costume collection, and what better way to fill it than with some beautiful images from our fashion and costume periodicals?

Chelsea Fashion Collection & our new fashion images
Chelsea Fashion Collection & our new fashion images

Staff at the library were asked to pick their favourite images from a shortlist, and choosing was tricky! The images, depicting costume spanning the Regency and Victorian eras, were all picked from our own magazine archives of La Belle Assemblee, The English Woman’s Domestic Magazine and Les Modes Parisiennes. We like the fact that the winners show how the shapes and styles of fashionable dress changed over 5 decades:

La Belle Assemblee November 1808
La Belle Assemblee November 1808

Classical Greece influenced dress was at the height of fashion in 1808, featuring a high empire waist line and long straight skirts. Woman dampened the muslin draperies so that they clung to their figure!


La Belle Assemblee November 1812
La Belle Assemblee November 1812

This evening dress from 1812 features a great turban – indoor caps for daywear weren’t that fashionable in this era but essential for evening wear and turbans were a very popular choice.


La Belle Assemblee 1828
La Belle Assemblee 1828

By 1928 a very different silhouette was in fashion –with so called leg-o’-mutton sleeves and skirts with tiny waists and wide bases. Check out the elaborate trimmings and hats!


Les Modes Parisiennes 1852
Les Modes Parisiennes 1852

By the 1850’s ladies skirts were so domed that they had to be supported by hoped cages called crinolines and lots of petticoats.


 English Woman’s Domestic magazine 1872
English Woman’s Domestic magazine 1872

And then by the 1870’s the fashion was to have a flat front of the skirt, with lots of fabric pushed to the back… called a bustle. This image features a popular style called the Dolly Varden (Charles Dickens fans will get the reference) – where you have an overskirt which is shorter at the front with the sides and back bunched up.

Here are a few other images that were on the shortlist but didn’t make the final cut. We hope you like our choices!

Les Modes Parisiennes 1852
Les Modes Parisiennes 1852
English Woman’s Domestic magazine 1872
English Woman’s Domestic magazine 1872
La Belle Assemblee 1828.
La Belle Assemblee 1828.


The colours of these prints are really vibrant even after all these years, but we also loved seeing some amazing pictures of the actual fabrics in one of the books that we have in our collection – Nineteenth-Century Fashion in Detail by Lucy Johnston published by Victoria & Albert Museum:

Promenade Dress made of silk plush. British 1855-57
Promenade Dress made of silk plush. British 1855-57
Woman’s dress of woven silk with applied plated trimming, lined with linen. British, about 1805.
Woman’s dress of woven silk with applied plated trimming, lined with linen. British, about 1805.
Day dress (sleeve detail) of block printed cotton.  British, 1825-30 (page 194)
Day dress (sleeve detail) of block printed cotton. British, 1825-30 (page 194)
Evening Dress made of machine-made silk bobbin net, hand embroidered.  British, about 1810
Evening Dress made of machine-made silk bobbin net, hand embroidered. British, about 1810
Women’s shoes made of silk and linen satin lined with kid and linen with a flat leather sole.  British, 1830s-40
Women’s shoes made of silk and linen satin lined with kid and linen with a flat leather sole. British, 1830s-40
Bustle made of horsehair woven with linen  British, 1870-75
Bustle made of horsehair woven with linen, British, 1870-75

To find out a bit about costume in this era we also read History of Women’s Costume by Marion Sichel. Come along to Chelsea Library to find lots more about the world of Costume and Fashion, or log on to Berg Online with your library card!