Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

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.

Kate Gielgud
Health Information Co-ordinator

Brompton Library Graphic Novel Reading Group – July

For July’s session (Thursday 7th, 6pm), we will be discussing the graphic novel behemoth that is ‘WATCHMEN’ by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons:

WatchmenGN

“In an alternate world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history, the US won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the cold war is in full effect. ”

Watchmen begins as a murder-mystery, but soon unfolds into a planet-altering conspiracy.

In the mid-eighties, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created Watchmen, changing the course of comic history and essentially remaking how popular culture perceived the genre. Popularly cited as the point where comics came of age, Watchmen’s sophisticated take on superheroes has been universally acclaimed for its psychological depth and realism.”

If you have any other suggestions for the reading list then please let me know and we’ll try our best to accommodate.

So far we have the following for consideration:

  • Ghost World
  • Transmetropolitan
  • Sandman
  • 20th century Boys
  • Promethia
  • Fight Club
  • Swamp Thing
  • Democracy
  • Trees
  • Diary of a Teenage Girl
  • Miracleman
  • Hip Hop Family Tree
  • Pride of Baghdad
  • The Bad Doctor
  • Y: The Last Man

The reading group takes place on the first Thursday evening of every month.

See you there! Bring snacks!

David Bushell
Customer Services Assistant
Brompton Library

Brompton Library Graphic Novel Reading Group

Hello and welcome to the Brompton Library Graphic Novel Reading Group

As most of you know, at the next group meeting (Thursday 5 May, 6pm) we will be discussing ‘Killing and Dying’ by Adrian Tomine.

KillingandDying

Here is a review:

From the master of the small gesture, this collection of stories and characters comprises a fraught, realist masterpiece about the weight of love and its absence, the pride and disappointment of family, and the anxiety and hopefulness of being alive in the 21st century.

For June’s session, we will be reading ‘The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye’ by Robert Kirkman, who wrote ‘Invincible’ which we read before, and Walking Dead is now a popular TV series.

WalkingDeadV1

Here’s the blurb:

“The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled: no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to finally start living.”

 If you have any other suggestions for the reading list then please let me know and we’ll try our best to accommodate.

So far we have the following for consideration:

  • Democracy
  • Trees
  • Watchmen
  • Diary of a Teenage Girl
  • Miracleman
  • Hip Hop Family Tree
  • Pride of Baghdad
  • The Bad Doctor
  • Y: The Last Man

See you all soon!

David Bushell
Customer Services Assistant, Brompton Library

Swish and Flick!

Duelling

Leanne Bellot, Customer Service Assistant at North Kensington Library, writes:

Time, like the Firebolt, flies. An entire year has already passed since I first wrote about our Harry Potter Book Night hi-jinks. On 4th February 2016, North Kensington Library once again joined the thousands of fans across the globe in celebrating Harry Potter Book Night 2016. The theme, A Night of Spells, opened up a galaxy of ideas, the most ambitious being the creation of Harry Potter Week. Here is a recap of all the mischief we managed!

Harry Potter and Notting Hill Preparatory School: January 20th

The Harry Potter festivities kicked off on January 20th with a year six class visit by Notting Hill Preparatory School. The main theme of the visit was Friends and Foes. Supported by carefully selected extracts from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the children explored the relationships between the main characters, bullying, and Neville’s bravery when he stood up to his friends. Five students were chosen to role play a scene from the book and we would not be surprised if they went on to become thespians!  The following discussions were engaging and lively. The children were all incredibly passionate and shared some really interesting insights into the characters and their behaviours.

Wizard VFX: February 2nd

We were incredibly lucky to host Klaudija Cermak for a second year in a row. If you don’t remember, Klaudija is a visual specialist and worked on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. I admit, I don’t know much about special effects but I think most would agree with me when I say that the effects used in the Harry Potter movies were brilliant. They look real, and they enhance the magical feel of the films – it’s easy to believe that there is a Wizarding world!  Klaudija was as charismatic as ever and an engaging speaker.

VFX 1

 

Craft Activity: February 3rd

Children were able to create their own diaries,  and make a part of our Diagon alley. No Horcrux in sight!

HP_diaries

 

Harry Potter Book Night: February 4th

I have one word to describe Harry Potter Book Night this year – WOAH!

Firstly, thank you to Chris for assisting me in making everything and to Claudia and Ria for waging (and eventually winning) the battle against the walls and windows to get everything up and looking fabulous – couldn’t have done it without you!

We wanted to create the Hogwarts experience, so we introduced three magical classes: Duelling, Potions, and Transfiguration. All three classes proved to be a huge success and surprisingly, minimally messy! Our Have You Seen This Wizard? photo booth was also a huge hit!

 

Following proper duelling etiquette, each participant respectfully bowed to their opponent before turning back to back and awaiting the countdown from the moderator (I was reminded of those classic draws found in old Westerns). It was good fun, the duellers were serious and enthusiastic – I’m pretty sure we witnessed the birth of a few new actors and the supporters were great sports. And if some children happened to confuse the effects of ‘Expelliarmus’ with ‘Crucio’, no one pointed it out as their overacting was quite a hilarious site to behold.

Duelling

There was a real fear that potions would be a complete disaster but I’m happy to report that it wasn’t (Nadira Chaoui was the biggest reason why)! Nadira and I ‘brewed’ three example potions: the challenge was to recreate these potions using the different ingredients provided, in under five minutes. The children were diligent students and it proved to be no challenge as the majority made excellent replicas and bounced away with their house points. I found myself humbled when a young Gryffindor asked if I had ‘Essence of Dittany’ and had no idea what he was talking about. I’m still ashamed and currently re-reading the series!

Potions 2Potions 1

The Harry Potter scavenger hunt was equal parts hilarious and chaos. (I’ve included the questions at the end of this piece for you to test your own Harry Potter knowledge, please let us know how you do in the comments section!) I am certain that I had hidden all the clues in visible places but it seemed that the greatest challenge for our young witches and wizards was finding question 7. Apart from that, they seemingly breezed through the answers – I’ll definitely make it harder next year. To make sure everyone had a chance of winning a prize, we randomly drew winners from the correctly completed entries over the course of the evening. Time for a funny story – an indignant young witch pointed out two devious Gryffindor’s who had snuck into the submission box to correct a few answers on their already submitted ballots and resubmit when we weren’t looking.  20 points from Gryffindor, tut tut.

Transfiguration was headed by Professor McGonagall (Lynn Terrell) and that was a hoot. Students were tasked with recreating one of three items – Nagini, a Golden Snitch, or Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup. Points were awarded based on the successful creation of one of these items from magical modelling clay and the likeliness to the examples provided. My personal highlight from this activity was the parent who made a beautiful Golden Snitch, she even included the engraved markings and bartered for 100 points instead of her awarded 30 points (the maximum number for a snitch)!

Lastly, Slytherin house claimed the House Cup Quiz Trophy! Last year’s winners, Gryffindor narrowly missed retaining the crown by five points, with Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw finishing in that order. There were so many great moments from the night but I really would be here for another year if I tried to include them all!

Slytherin House Cup Winners

 

Harry Potter Knitting: Saturday 6 January

Our week concluded with a very special Harry Potter knitting session. Ran by Ms Tuula Petitlo, participants were taught the basic knitting stitches, given helpful pointers and guiding in beginning their very own Hogwarts scarf. It was a successful family workshop and we have some great pictures.

If you are interested in either crocheting or knitting, Tuula runs the ‘Crochet and Knitting’ group at Kensal Library, every Monday 1-3PM.

Knitting 1

While it was a very busy week at North Ken, it was also a very successful week. Beyond celebrating Harry Potter, this week served as a reminder of the incredible power of literature and its ability to bring people together. As a fan, it’s great to share my passion with younger readers and as library staff, it’s incredibly rewarding to see so many children enamoured with the books. At the heart of it all was our library service, offering the community a welcoming space where they were encouraged to make great memories, meet new people, learn, explore and most importantly, enjoy our facilities. And although it’s taken me nearly a month to fully recover, it was definitely worth it.

A huge thank you to all the people that assisted in delivering Harry Potter Week, it would not have been possible without you.

Mischief managed!

P.S. At your next North Kensington visit, take a look at ‘Harry Potter: Page to Screen’ by Bob McCabe and ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Illustrated Edition) by J.K. Rowling – they are both too beautiful not to look at!  

Time to test your HP knowledge…

  1. What is the name of Dumbledore’s Pet Phoenix?
  2. What type of animal is fluffy?
  3. What do Ron and Harry fly into the whopping willow?
  4. What position does Ron play on the Gryffindor Quidditch team?
  5. What is the name of the sixth Harry Potter book?
  6. How many children do Arthur and Molly Weasley have?
  7. What country wins the Quidditch world cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?
  8. How many Hogwarts houses are there?
  9. From what platform can you catch the Hogwarts Express?
  10. What is the name of Harry’s pet owl?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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’

 

OneLoveExhibit1
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

 

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

Stay Well This Winter!

Winter Wellness
Winter Wellness

We have blogged in the past about the ways that libraries are good for your health and wellbeing: increasing social and community cohesion with events and book groups, improving literacy and life skills, providing information about CV sessions, interview skills, job opportunities, housing issues and helping with digital inclusion with free online access through PCs and wifi, adult learning, children’s book sharing and of course a wide range of regular health sessions, talks and stalls for all ages – all these aspects of library life are good for our health.

We rely on close partnership work with the NHS to guide us so that we can keep you informed as to priorities in healthy lifestyle behaviours. At the moment Public Health England and more specifically our CCG, West London Clinical Commissioning Group, are urging us to ‘Stay Well This Winter’.

Here are the answers to some questions you may have about one aspect of ‘Stay Well this Winter’ – the flu vaccine:

Stay Well This Winter  – the Flu Vaccine

The NHS has been encouraging everyone to Stay Well This Winter by taking a number of steps to minimise the risk of falling unwell during the colder months – you might have seen posters and information displayed in libraries throughout Kensington and Chelsea. There are also videos to raise awareness:

Importantly, free flu vaccines are available to a number of groups of people including older people aged over 65, children aged 2-4 and in school years one and two, pregnant women, people with long-term health conditions and carers. Most GPs and pharmacies will be providing free flu vaccines until the end of January or February so it is still not too late if you, a friend or a family member has not yet had yours. If you are eligible for a free flu vaccine your GP will be able to organise one for you, so it’s worth asking about.

To help understand why getting the flu vaccine is important we spoke to Dr Sarah Wallace, Public Health Registrar:

Why do we worry so much about preventing flu?

Flu is a strange illness.  People so often confuse it with a cold, but in reality they are very different.  Most of those who have had flu need no convincing to have the flu jab. You can be ill for up to a week, and it isn’t just the sniffles, shivering and sore throat that you have with your average cold. People will generally be in bed with high fevers, muscle aches, profound tiredness and other symptoms and will be completely unable to complete their normal daily activities.  This means time off work or school – it may be up to seven days before you feel better.

We particularly worry about certain groups of people getting the flu, who for various reasons have an immune system which can’t fight the flu as well as others can. These people include those aged 65 and over, people with other long-term medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease and many others), pregnant women and young babies. Because these people may have a weaker immune system they are more likely to end up in hospital as a result of the flu, with complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis or rarely meningitis.  Sometimes flu can have incredibly severe consequences and Public Health England estimates that around 8,000 people die of flu every year in England and Wales.

Will having the vaccine guarantee that you won’t get flu?

The flu is a virus which is constantly changing and there are many strains; however each year the most common flu strains are different, and so the vaccine changes yearly.  Although the vaccination can’t stop all flu viruses, and it is not a 100% guarantee that you’ll be flu-free,if you do get flu after having the vaccination it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.  There is also evidence to suggest that the flu jab can reduce your risk of having a stroke.

Can you get flu by having the flu vaccine?

There are lots of myths about the flu vaccine.  Contrary to many people’s belief the flu vaccination will not give you the flu.  Some people feel a bit tired and achy, but this is simply your immune system working.

How can you get a free flu vaccine if you think we might be eligible?

Free flu vaccines are for these eligible groups are available until the end of January; not only from GPs but in London many pharmacies are also providing the flu vaccination for adults, which may be more convenient for some.

What if a child doesn’t like injections – can they still be protected against the flu?

The flu vaccine for children is particularly easy – it is just a simple and painless nasal spray.  There have been many people asking why they should vaccinate their healthy child against the flu.  It not only helps to reduce the likelihood of them getting sick, but also helps to stop them spreading the flu to others in the community particularly people who are vulnerable.  Flu is generally spread in the community by children.  They might be visiting elderly or sick relatives over the holidays, or those with young brothers or sisters. 2015 is the first year that children in school years one and two across the country are included in the programme.

Why is it important people in Kensington and Chelsea receive the flu vaccine?

Unfortunately we know that historically in Kensington and Chelsea flu vaccination uptake has been low, below the London average.  I urge those who are eligible for a flu vaccination to make an appointment with your GP today, or if you are over 18 visit your local pharmacy.  More information on how to Stay Well This Winter can be found at nhs.uk/staywell.  The flu vaccination will be available at most GPs and pharmacies until the end of January or February, please don’t put it off.

Your local library and children’s libraries will have hard copy Stay Well this Winter and Flu Vaccination leaflets.

[Dr Sarah Wallace, Public Health Registrar;
Kate Gielgud, Health Information Coordinator]

Notting Hill Gate November

This month Notting Hill Gate Library has been very engaged in new activities, such as having our first ever Story Time session. We read a range of books and even had a dance when reading “Were Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen.

Chosing what to read

Our second Story and Craft session took place on Saturday 21st November. The library was transformed into every child’s dream, where everyone had the chance to become a superhero. It went with a BOOM and a BANG!

Snow visited us with a cold start to the day, however this did not stop our brave, dedicated superheroes! They forgot their masks so we made them by using all sorts of materials and quickly put them on to hide their identities from the world.

Making masks

As you can see in the picture they were all unique designs, some were inspired by their iconic superheroes for instance ‘The Incredibles’.

Everyone doing their superhero poses

Everyone doing their superhero poses

As in all parties, we celebrated by marking the event in our Superhero Photo booth of the bold Batman and dazzling Wonder Woman. The superheroes were smiling from ear to ear, exciting stuff!

Parents were supportive of their mini superheroes by generously donating fruits, which the children used to create their own superhero faces. Two of the children did not know what a Pomegranate was, but once they had tasted the delicious fruit, they were hooked.

Creating superhero fruit faces

 The day was saved when all our mini-superheroes came to the rescue by using their powers to help tidy the children’s library. It was a hard days work!

Laila El-Boukilli,
Senior Customer Services Assistant, writes:

Story-time at Chelsea Library

When I first started doing the under-5s at Chelsea I had no experience at all, in fact I had come from delivering the housebound service in Hammersmith, so I was used to dealing with the very elderly who were often slow on their feet and very polite. I was in no way prepared for the chaos of pre-schoolers: the tired and distracted mothers and the nannies on their mobiles.
My God they were a tough audience!

I soon realise why so many people were reluctant to take on the responsibility. Some fellow workers were not brave enough to put on the baritone voice of the ogre in The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Three Billy Goats Gruff

There was almost a sense that the children’s library should be free of noise and chaos.

Did we really need class visits when books were left strewn across the carpet? Well, yes we did! We needed to embrace the chaos.

I soon developed a taste for amateur theatrics and found myself thinking my way inside Mr Bear’s mind in the wonderful ‘Peace At Last’ where the adults are amused by Mr Bear’s wretched sleepless night, his snoring wife and the horrible brown letter from the Inland Revenue which appears at the end and is clearly responsible for the wiggly lines etched round his eyes.

Last month I was sent on a story-time training session in Barnet where I hoped to pick up some new tips.
Would there be some hints on puppetry?
How to throw your voice or even a magic spell to aid concentration?

The session in Barnet was led by three high octane women. They had a personal interest in all the stories and like fans of music they felt a special relationship with Lucy Cousins and Jez Alborough. They had taken ownership of the books. Their enthusiasm was a little daunting for the first timer. I both appreciated the course and squirmed with embarrassment at having to sit on a small inflatable ring in a mock-up of a farm yard. Story-time means you have to let go, become cartoonish, engage the children with eye contact and big swirling gestures.

What I learnt is that repetition in a story is great, less text too, stories that elicit a call and answer response and some of those almost silent books such as ‘Hug’ which repeat one word over and over are the best. Most important of all don’t be afraid of repeating the same story. They will soon know Jack and the Beanstalk by heart.

Hug by Jez Alborough
Hug by Jez Alborough

We had a busy Summer Reading Challenge party and began with some themed record breaker questions for the completers. No one was prepared for the weird questions quizmaster Vince Symmons prepared: the length of the longest nose hair or the greatest distance covered by a skate-boarding goat?
Answers on a postcard please.
The more absurd the question the better the children responded.

Furry Creatures
Furry Creatures

Story-craft this month was structured around monsters. Di devised some brilliantly huggable creatures with folding arms and big furry bodies – a bit like an angry sporran. Earlier we designed frogs with red woollen tongues and a squashed fly on the end.

Frogs and flies
Frogs and flies

We also had a visit from the Holland Park ecology centre. The staff brought cockroaches and millipedes to the library and they did very well with our very own two-legged mini beasts!

By Daniel Jeffreys
Customer Service Assistant, Chelsea Library

 

London History Festival 16 to 26 November

Welcome to the 7th London History Festival hosted by Kensington Central Library and Waterstones. It is a literary festival that aims to bring the work of the finest historians to the widest possible audience. The festival consists of a series of talks and discussions followed by book signings.

London History Festival 2015
London History Festival 2015

Part of us is amazed that we’ve got this far, but another part says it should be no surprise with the quality of speakers we’ve been able to present. This year’s programme has the same combination of eminent historians covering a wide range of subjects. Some veterans of the festival return – Max Hastings, Tom Holland, Jessie Childs, Helen Castor, Marc Morris and Dan Jones. But also some new names – Thomas Asbridge, Sinclair McKay and David Boyle. The subjects range from ancient Rome to World War 2 with much that is relevant to the world as it is today. A big thanks to the other Festival Director Richard Foreman. None of it would be possible without him.

If you’re interested in the history of Kensington and Chelsea, the most fascinating Borough in London, Local Studies Librarian Dave Walker writes a weekly blog, The Library Time Machine exploring aspects of the history of the Royal Borough through photographs, artworks and maps from the Local Studies Collection. Recently he has written about book illustrators and advertising, as well as adding some guest bloggers. There always seems to be something new to discover.

Please collect a programme from any of our libraries.

As well as hosting part of the London History Festival, we also have a fringe taster event.

Hoards (Greek & Roman coin hoards and Viking hoards) author talk by Eleanor Ghey

Ghey - book cover image
Ghey – book cover image

This was held on Monday 9th November, at Kensington Central Library

Hackney hoard - coins in a jar
Hackney hoard – coins in a jar

The talk focused on the hoards discovered in London including the Cheapside Hoard of exquisite Elizabethan jewellery, and the Hackney Hoard buried during the Second World War by a family fearing a German invasion. Eleanor Ghey is Project Curator in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum.

Hackney hoard coins
Hackney hoard coins
Hackney Hoard Double Eagles
Hackney Hoard Double Eagles