Introducing Universal Class

Universal Class Logo
Over 500 educational courses – free!

Librarian Owen Grey writes…

Alongside Learning Nexus, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has recently invested in a fantastic new online resource for library users interested in the pursuit of lifelong learning!

Universal Class is a real treasure trove of online learning, with over 500 free courses to choose from, in almost any subject area you can think of. All you need to do is join the library (if you are not already a member) and sign-up online.

Subjects range from ‘Office Skills’ and ‘Psychology’ to ‘Performing Arts’ and ‘Finance.’ Each course comes with dedicated instructors, module based lessons, assignments and tests. You can sign-up and look for the course you are interested in anywhere, anytime: among the many benefits of Universal Class is the ability to learn at your own pace, and in your own time. This flexible approach is especially useful for those of us juggling multiple priorities in our day to day lives!

Of particular interest to existing customers of Kensington Central’s Business Information Point will be the online business courses, which are available to anyone wanting to study business, start a small business or need help with their existing business.

So – whether your interest lies in Mindfulness, Web Development or Creative Writing – visit our Universal Class information page and take the plunge! The service is completely free for library users. A whole world of knowledge awaits you…

If you want to find out more before getting started we will be holding introductory ‘Online Learning’ sessions during Adult Learners’ Week in June.

North Kensington Library: Tuesday 16th June 9.30 – 1.30
Kensal Library: Thursday 18th June from 2.00 – 5.00
Brompton Library: Friday 19th June from 9.30 – 4.30



A Visit to Gosh!

Picture of Gosh! Storefront
Gosh! A Graphic Novel Emporium

David, Customer Services Assistant at Brompton library, writes:

Friday the 13th is usually said to be unlucky, although it usually turns out alright for me personally. The last one was no exception, as I was given the enviable task of visiting Gosh!, a Graphic Novel institution located in Berwick Street, in deepest Soho, to see what goodies we will be receiving from our local independent supplier.

Friday the 13th (the comic book) was fittingly on display, as were a diverse array of other titles spanning all the genres. As someone who has long been a ‘fellow traveler’ of the graphic novel community, whilst not being totally immersed, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer range and beauty of these books. Many are truly collectors’ items for a reason; much of the art is staggering, and there is often as much depth as any traditional novel or non-fiction reportage. It’s easy to dismiss Graphic Novels as merely famous superheroes with their underpants on the outside of gaudy tights, but whilst this is a staple of the medium, there’s so much more to be discovered. Luckily for me and the good people of Kensington and Chelsea, a new range of stock will be coming our way in the coming weeks, straight from Gosh! and expertly curated by the personable manager of the store, Andrew.

We are also planning miscellaneous stock picks by yours truly and other members of staff, although input from our customers is most  welcome – so please feel free to let us know of any stock suggestions you may have! Also keep an eye out for Free Comic Book Day on May 2nd; there’ll be many goodies to be had! Watch this space…

Librarians holding graphic novels
A happy morning spent at Gosh!

Brompton’s Bug Ball Blog!

Stephanie, Brompton Librarian, writes:

“And a happy time we’ll have there, one and all

At the ugly bug ball”

Well, they certainly did! Brompton hosted Holland Park Ecology Centre’s children’s event with what the Ecology Centre call “exotic invertebrates” but most of us would call creepy crawlies or, perhaps a little more kindly, minibeasts.

Fiona and Sadie set up one table with the larger, non-native bugs and one with some soil and foliage that the kids could rummage through to find the smaller, more familiar garden bugs and then study them in containers with magnifying lids. They couldn’t have been more fascinated.

Children looking for bugs
Searching for creepy crawlies

I was very pleased that after exhausting the possibilities of the live bugs a lot of children then went on to make some wonderfully creative multi-coloured spiders with ridiculous numbers of eyes from the pipe cleaners and other parts supplied by the centre.

Arts and Crafts session
Making spiders with string and pipecleaners

This really was the most popular event I’ve ever witnessed at Brompton and the buzz and excitement were almost tangible. A big thank you to Fiona and Sadie and to the Ecology Centre for the great work they do!


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

Chatterbooks at Brompton library

Stephanie Webb, Lending Librarian at Brompton Library, writes:

The Chatterbooks session on Monday 9 March was both a happy and a sad occasion as it was the last one led by Babita Sinha. Babita is leaving at the end of March and has led Chatterbooks here at Brompton for five years and before that at Chelsea for three years. She has a devoted following of children who will be very sad to see her go.

Babita's last Chatterbooks session at Brompton Library, March 2015
Babita’s last Chatterbooks session at Brompton Library, March 2015

However, she went out in style with a (slightly premature) Shakespeare Week event which had the kids searching the children’s area for Shakespearean clues, followed by word searches and other quizzes and some readings from the bard. All this was helped along with some naughty nibbles to mark Babita’s last session.

So, Babita is leaving (Boo-hoo!) but Katie Collis will be taking over (Hurrah!) in May.

Chatterbooks session at Brompton Library, March 2015
Chatterbooks session at Brompton Library, March 2015

There’s still room for a few more at our Chatterbooks reading group which is on the third Monday of each month at 3.45pm

Happy National Libraries Day!

Today, 7 February is National Libraries Day – are you coming to the library today? We’d love to see you.

National Libraries DayIf you haven’t been to the library for a while, pick your nearest one and come and find out what we have to offer.

Just come in and have a look at our wide range of books for both adults and children, use the library computers, ask a question, borrow a DVD or CD, find out about local history at the Local Studies Collection, or use the study space we offer.

On Saturdays in Kensington and Chelsea Libraries you can find a range of story times for children and IT help sessions. There are regular events every day that we’re open, with a brilliant programme of special events throughout the year.

If you can’t get to the library today, have a look at our brilliant online resources – you can download e-books and e-audiobooks for free, and use the Times newspaper archives and Berg Fashion Library (and more) from home too.

There are loads of reasons to love libraries this National Libraries Day. Come and find out why!

Being bilingual & saving the planet

Steph Webb, Librarian at Brompton Library, writes:  

It feels like an age since it was all arranged but we finally had our first bilingual story event for children today! With the French lycéé just down the road and a large French community locally, it made perfect sense to bring them into the library. The author JN Paquet came to read one of his books, The t-rrible, a great story about how being bilingual is special and the bilingual hero saves the planet!

Avid listeners
Avid listeners

The children were really engaged with the story, jumping up and down one minute then listening hard the next. After the story there was a competition to draw the main character and, although everyone got some stickers, we had three, proud gold medal winners.


Please join us for more bilingual storytelling in March: take a look at our events page for children for more details!

Knit & Natter

On a grey, wet Monday lunchtime some of our more hardy readers braved the weather to attend Brompton library’s first Knit and Natter course.

knit and natter
Knitting & nattering…


This is the first time we’ve run more than a one-off taster session on any subject (apart from Computing for Beginners on Saturday mornings). Our Knit and Natter course lasts for 8 weeks and this was the introduction. Michelle, the tutor from Westminster Adult Education Services, came prepared with wool and needles if necessary but our learners had jumped the gun and came with their own lovely wool – including bright red, black and some sparkly, purple wool that looked like tinsel! At their first session they went away with something they could wear, a beautiful, rose-shaped corsage.

There are still places available for this so if you’re free on Mondays from 12 – 2pm this is a great way to spend the time – in good company, learning something new (or refreshing old skills) and with something to take away to show for it.

We are hoping to host more events with WAES and make Brompton into more of a place for people to meet up, learn new things and maybe make new friends so watch this space (and the next events brochure)!

Mythical Maze monsters come alive!

At Brompton Library we’re holding regular Mythical Maze iPad sessions every Thursday 3.30 to 5pm so the kids can use our lovely new iPads to play with the Mythical Maze augmented reality app!

You can download the app onto any smart device to make the mythical monsters come alive and tell their story. Kids love seeing Nessie loom out of the lake and Medusa’s snake-hair fall out! Thereare  also games involving the creatures for younger users.

Everyone is welcome- please come along and give it a go!


Annie, our work experience student, helping two of our participants to use the iPad.
Annie, our work experience student, helping two of our participants to use the iPad.

Ever wondered about work experience in the library?

photo 3Steph Webb, our Librarian at Brompton Library, writes:

All young people are now expected to do some form of work experience in the field of their choice and it is their responsibility to arrange it.

Our latest work experience pupil, Conrad, attends Brompton Oratory school and had ideally wanted to work in a bookshop or library.

Taking on a work experience pupil is a considerable commitment for any organisation. The aim is to try to give them an idea of what the job entails and give them some experience of doing it and this involves giving them an induction, training and mentoring whilst on the job. We also aim to give them a sense of responsibility so expect the same standards of time-keeping and teamwork as other members of staff. From our viewpoint it’s always interesting to see how the pupils differ, some are really conscientious and interested, others less so!

Here is Conrad’s experience in his own words:

From Chinua Achebe to Stephan Zweig – My Work experience at Brompton Library

By Conrad Pollock-Spadavecchia

The first week into my work experience at Brompton Library has really taught me a lot about library work and how important it is for the local community. I have been able to witness and take part firsthand in many important aspects of working here, including going behind the scenes, making sure certain books are delivered to different branches, cataloguing ones that have gone missing and helping out customers when they need it.

I have come to see that no job, no matter how easy or tranquil it may look from the outside, really is quite a challenge in its own way. The library is no exception to this. A problem will always come to the library, be it in the form of a tricky customer, a sick employee who needs their shift covered, or in hunting down that one annoying book that keeps creeping up on the lists.

I would overall say that my time in the library has been an enjoyable and unique experience. It has shown me that there is a lot of satisfaction to be gained from some decent hard effort, and that tea breaks really are a treat! Therefore, I believe that my time here has been put to good use, and I look forward to using the library in the future, safe in the knowledge that it is in very competent hands.

Thank you, Conrad!