Welcome to the latest blog post from the staff at Chelsea Library. Over to Daniel Jeffreys to tell us more about what’s been happening.
Winter can be a challenging time: the lack of light (those early morning starts in dripping darkness). A sense of hibernation sets in, compounded by my re-reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising where snow falls continually over the Thames valley. This is a perfect winter read. In this gripping children’s book about the Holy Grail and Arthurian legends Christmas is the time where the battle between light and dark takes place. It is quite easy to imagine The Old Ones fighting it out in the residential gardens and nearby parks. This book is particularly good because it examines the Pagan beliefs behind Christmas. I would be interested to hear of any other wintry recommendations.
One antidote to the seasonal chill is our coffee morning every Wednesday at 10.30am. Word is spreading but please mention it to any of your more discriminating readers who might fancy a chat and a slice of organic carrot cake. The group is diverse, a lady with an in-depth knowledge of cakes and pastries, an aeronautical expert and a lady who refers to her ‘chequered career’ but as yet no one has been bold enough to find out what exactly it entails. We have had presentations from a health worker and the community police.
The children’s library has been extremely busy. We had over 100 adults and children for one of our electrified baby rhyme time sessions (every Thursday at 11am). Babies have an innate sense of rhythm, much like their ability to swim, and it is great watching the toddlers crawl and wobble and fall over.
The story craft event this month was themed around frogs. Senior Customer Services Assistant, Diana designed some action frogs, bunched up and ready to spring with long lolling tongues and crazy rolling eyes. The stories had a twist—some frogs don’t want to be rescued with a kiss and turned into handsome Princes. They prefer the damp and solitude of their ponds.
We had a brilliant but hectic book sale last week. Our readers were amazed at the bargains they were able to snap up.
Hello to you all from the staff at Chelsea Library.
Stories, crafts and a wizard in the children’s library
This summer during the heat wave we ran two successful story and craft events – an ugly ducking session tied into the Hans Christian Anderson story. Thirty three children came to design flying swans and yellow ducklings and left with a free copy of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ (given to us by Bookstart).
Funny Bones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The Tickle Ghost by David and Brett McKee
Walter de la Mare
The second story and craft event had a creepy house theme. We read out Funny bones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and David and Brett McKee’s The Tickle Ghost as well as Walter de la Mare’s The Listeners. We asked the children to imagine what happens next. What will those phantoms treading on the staircase do now that the traveller has gone?
Diane, one of our Senior Customer Services Assistants, designed some brilliant ghosts, little stuffed spectres and hand puppets. The children decorated them with coloured ribbons and sashes which streamed beneath them like kites. Like vampires, who after the overkill of the vampire publishing boom are in desperate need of a transfusion, ghosts can get a little clichéd. So we tried out some new shapes, among them was a Kung-fu kick boxing ghost with a Jackie Chan headband.
The summer highlight was a visit by Mr Wiz, a Fulham based wizard who played to a packed house of over 50 children. He blew bubbles, threatened to turn chatterboxes into dinosaurs and frogs (one member of staff is still suffering from the frog spell—she stares distractedly at garden ponds in her lunch hour). He magicked pineapple chunks into golden coins and led them in a dance about Five Little Speckled Frogs. The children were thumping on the floor so excitedly that the porters in their office below reported a steady fall of plaster. Each child left with their very own broomstick shaped balloon so that they could fly home chasing bubbles. It was great to see the library so busy – children were still coming through the door during the magic.
Baby rhyme time will be touring the O2 Arena and Wembley Stadium with a beefed up version of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ but until then we hope to take it outside into the Sydney Street Gardens. And if you can’t wait – come along to our weekly session on Thursdays at 11am.
Customer Services Assistant
Fashion takeover in the reference library
This week the reference librarians have taken over the Chelsea Gallery to showcase some books from our Costume Collection. There are some rarely seen books on Ancient Egyptian dress from our archives on show.
And also some great 80’s fashion images, inspired by the exhibitions currently on at the V&A and the Fashion and Textile Museum (which we’ve blogged about recently ‘Zandra Rhodes – Unseen (and seen in Vogue and Harpers and Queens)’). We’re really inspired by going to these exhibitions, so look out for more related fashion collection blog posts from us….!
Information about both of these subjects and MUCH more is available from the online Berg Fashion Library which we subscribe to. If you are interested in finding out more about this fantastic resource, please ask us in the Chelsea Reference Library.
And for a taster, here is a great image of a 1980’s cardigan from the V&A and a description of it that we found in the Berg Fashion Library.
This hand-knitted cardigan was inspired by the patterns on decorative china plates. The kaleidoscope of stitches in bright primary colours emphasises its hand-crafted appeal, and the striking patchwork effect is achieved by alternating blocks of stocking and fancy stitches. The designer, Patricia Roberts, set up a hand-knitting business in 1976 and still runs a shop in London today. She has published many pattern books and issued ranges of luxury yarn. This cardigan is typical of her innovative designs in bold colours using contrasting textures and decorative stitches.
June has been a busy month at Chelsea Library — over to the staff there to tell us more.
There hasn’t been a spare chair to sit on especially in the refurbished children’s library with its cool blue walls and sparkling windows. We held a story and craft event at the beginning of the month with a chicken theme. Chicken Licken went down well (nearly as well as that unfortunate chicken). It might be an idea to reread the stories beforehand and prepare for the sudden ending when the entire cast of animals are eaten by a fox in a waistcoat with a voice like Leslie Phillips. Diane designed some brilliant custard yellow chickens that rocked backwards and forwards. We had so many requests that we read the story again.
Last Thursday we hosted the first of our quiz afternoons in the Walker Room. We had a great turn out – lots of old friends and some new faces with hidden talents. The five teams slugged it out between bouts of tea, fruit juice and bread pudding. The A Team won with an impressive 30 out of a possible 35, even tackling the difficult trick question:
Has the United States of America ever had a King and , if so, who was he?
Answers in the comments section at the bottom of this piece please!
After the quiz there was a raffle and a sing song. We started the singing off with a rendition of The Lambeth Walk and it was followed byStanding on the Corner — a song about spending an afternoon on main street giving the girls the eye.
Vintage Guitars and Baby Rhyme Time
Baby rhyme time has been drawing big crowds; part of its popularity is the game of musical statues at the end giving carers and mothers the chance to dance as well as the children.
We’re now using a vintage guitar – a Danelectro in vivid ‘agent orange’ during the sessions. The children like the traditional songs but really respond to rock and roll – it gives them a great opportunity to stagger, dance and fall over. One little girl with a hearing aid enjoys the event because she can hear it quite clearly.
Diane Day, Senior Customer Services Assistant
Daniel Jeffreys, Customer Services Assistant
Great facts about Chelsea Reference Library
#3: The Walker Room
Behind the scenes of Chelsea Reference Library is the Walker Room, which is not only home to our archived magazines and newspapers, but is also where our expert staff run classes on how to find out about just about anything using our online databases – from Berg Fashion Library to Ancestry to business start-up information.
Check out the events page for the next classes and you can find full details of Berg Fashion Library, Ancestry and business information on our online databases page.
Welcome to our June blog post from our three libraries in the North.
Notting Hill Gate Library
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
The Notting Hill Gate Library Reading Group met to discuss The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. As usual the discussion was lively and vibrant with opinions bouncing across the table.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a monologue by Changez, a young Pakistani boy telling his life story to an American stranger in a café in Lahore. Changez used to live in America and is reporting why he has come to live back in Pakistan, in doing so he highlights the post 9/11 tensions. Changez went to America as a student to study at Princeton University, he lands a job with a prestigious consultancy firm and falls in love with an American girl, everything changes for Changez after 9/11 when his dream becomes a nightmare.
The group had different opinions about what the book was actually about. Some said it was about a man finding his identity, some said it was about the after effects of 9/11 and some said it was about a man going against America, but what we all agreed was, it was powerfully written and Changez’s story was deeply touching. We covered a range of discussions from religion, terrorism, capitalism, identity crises, the American dream and culture.
The story is full of intrigue, suspense and tension and it’s where we are left to fill in the blanks and the ambiguous ending that made it an exceptional book to discuss.
Lucky for the Notting Hill Gate Reading Group, the Reluctant Fundamentalist was then released in cinemas on 10th May, so of course we had to go and see it! We enjoyed the movie as much as we enjoyed the book and thought it was a great idea to have a comparative discussion. We were of course annoyed about some of the cuts from the book but we thought it still kept the essence of the story and it did justice for the book. We are very enthusiastic about linking future films with books.
Fancy a mystery?
To celebrate Crime Writers Month, we have decide to make things a little more exciting at Notting Hill Gate, choose a mysterious book from our display if you dare…
National Crime Writing Month is an initiative of the Crime Writers’ Association. Formerly known as Crime Writing Week, it was launched in 2010 with 50 events up and down the UK. In 2012, due to the popularity of the event, it was increased to a month. It gives readers the opportunity to explore the latest and best crime writing, as well as to discover (or rediscover) many classic writers. At Notting Hill Gate we have a vast collection of books by the authors of the Crime Writing Panel and by other authors associated with Crime Writing Week.
Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library
North Kensington Library
Sunshine in the Children’s Library
Don’t you think the sun is bright?
I wonder where it goes at night?
Does it sleep or does it hide?
Or is the moon its other side?
Does it hide behind the hills?
Late at night as outside chills?
Do you think it needs to rest?
From all that warming it does best?
On a gloomy and rainy Thursday afternoon we brought some sunshine to North Kensington Children’s Library by reading a poem about the sun, written by Gareth Lancaster and making the sun for our half term story and craft session. Children enjoyed tracing their palms on coloured paper, cutting traced fingers and sticking them on the back of paper plates. That is how we created the sun and now our display in children’s library looks bright and sunny.
Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library
National Bookstart Week
We are looking forward to celebrating National Bookstart Week here at Kensal Library and will be having a special baby rhyme time on Friday 28 June at 10.30 to 11.00 am with stories, songs and a craft tying in with Bookstart’s theme of fairytales.
There’s more information about National Bookstart Week on the Bookstart website.
Crime at Kensal
We currently have a crime fiction display at Kensal Library to promote National Crime Writing Month. We have included staff recommendations and the display has proved to be quite popular.
On Saturday 18 May the Crocheting Divas came to show us how to crochet like a Diva! This was part of our Adult Learners’ Week events.
They taught us to crochet flowers, brooches and hats. Crocheting relaxes the mind and is good for the emotional wellbeing.
If you would like to crochet (like a diva!) they will be at Kensal Library every Monday, 1.15pm to 3pm.
The DIVAS provide the wool and refreshments. Bring your own crochet hooks (size 3 and 4) and a £1 donation.
Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library
New baby rhyme time
We have recently changed our storytime session to a baby rhyme time session every Friday at 10.30 to 11.00am. We have a regular nursery group attending who are very enthusiastic and love hearing a few stories before we embark on a round of nursery rhymes ending with the very popular ‘Jumping Bean’ song.
We will be having a half term craft event on Friday 31st May at 3 to 4pm. We will be making butterfly crowns so keep a look out for any children wearing them in the north of the borough!
We had an interesting Chatterbooks session this month. The group read a fairytale (Rapunzel) and then we wrote our own fairytales but we wrote one paragraph then passed it on to the person sitting to the left of us and carried on until the story was finished. We ended up with some very wacky and funny tales!
On Thursday 25 April our Chatterbooks group met at our usual time of 4 pm in children’s library. As this was part of our Cityread London events we chose London and the London Underground as themes for this meeting. Nine children attended the session; most of them were eight years old. We had one participant who was only four years old but he desperately wanted to join us and with his mother’s assistance he enjoyed every minute of it!
First we read one story from ‘London Stories’ book written by Jim Eldrige. The stories describe London through its history up to today as seen through the eyes of the city’s children. We read the first story which gave us some facts about London in Roman times. Four children participated in reading and then we had short discussion about the historic facts in the story we read.
The second part of the session was the most enjoyable for the children as they used their creativity and imagination in creating futuristic posters for the London Underground. They cut some images and did drawings and at the end we got a few lovely posters for our display.
After successful work they all deserved quick refreshment with Jaffa Cakes. Before leaving the children wanted to know when the next meeting was going to be and they were told that our next Chatterbooks meeting is held on the last Thursday in a month – which is 30 May next time. Goodbye till then!
Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library
Words about the World – travel writing book display
Summer is coming and for the adventurous and even the armchair traveller we have we have a display of travel writing and travel guides. We also have readers’ wall inviting you to recommend your favourite book about travel or holiday destination. Contributions so far include destinations Brazil and Venice recommended travel books Brazil by Michael Palin, Lonely planet guide to Croatia and Eye witness travel guide to Vienna.
Books on display include old favourites such as Dervla Murphy’s ‘Full tilt: Ireland to India with a bicycle’ and Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’. My favourite new titles are Tom Fort’s ‘The A303: Highway to the sun’ and John Osborne’s ‘Don’t need the sunshine’.
I have many treasured memories of travelling along the A303 in the 1960s to Devon and then on to Cornwall. And was there sunshine? I remember windy days playing cricket on the beach and clambering up the rocky cliffs to retrieve the ball. We had lots of fun and we didn’t need the sun.
Hello from us all at Chelsea Library! This is our third blog post and this time we wanted to tell you more about a couple of the regular events that happen here every month.
Chatterbooks at Chelsea Library
Chatterbooks are reading groups for children aged eight to twelve years old – there’s more information on our Chatterbooks page on our website.
On Saturday 9 February the Chelsea Chatterbooks group celebrated Chinese New Year. The children could look at, play with and borrow all the books we collected for the occasion from around the libraries in the borough: Chinese martial arts, the Terracotta Army, Calligraphy, ancient emperors, Chinese cookery… it’s amazing how many fantastic things come from China!
We had New Year Chinese music in the background and lucky red decorations all around the library. We found out what Chinese horoscope sign we all were: we had Monkeys, Pigs and a Rat! What a party!
The kids also did some crafts and answered a quiz about China. The best entry will win a free book – he winner will be announced at our next Chatterbooks meeting.
We are holding our free Chatterbooks sessions on the second Saturday of each month, from 10am. All kids aged eight to twelve are invited – just turn up on the day. The more the merrier!
The Chelsea Library Chatterbooks Gang
Chelsea Library’s reading group
Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. – C.S Lewis
Enjoy reading? Book groups are a great way to develop your critical thinking in an informal context whilst deepening your appreciation of literature. They can be a lot of fun too. Whether you’re a book club veteran or would just like to meet new people and try something new, please do come along to Chelsea Library’s reading group. For those who haven’t been to the last meeting a copy of the next month’s title can be picked up at the reservations shelf. Just ask a member of staff.
At our next meeting on 21 March we’ll be discussing ‘The Long Song’ by Andrea Levy. You will have the chance to take home a free copy of Sebastien Faulks’ ‘A Week in December,’ courtesy of the London-wide Cityread project. Cityread London is a campaign to spread a love of books and reading to the widest possible audience throughout our capital. (More information about this campaign can be found on the Cityread website). This year’s title is set in London and if the reviews on are anything to go by it looks like being literary Marmite – or perfect fodder for a lively meeting, disputatious but always civil.
The group is welcoming with a respect and understanding that individuals will differ in how much they wish to comment and hold forth in discussions. In depth knowledge of the text is not assumed or required, although having read the book will certainly help! The titles for this year have been selected up ’til September and we’re doing some time travelling, exploring some classics through Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’. We’re also visiting the 1970s with Ian McEwan’s latest offering ‘Sweet Tooth’, described by the author as “a way in which I can write disguised autobiography”. One of the contemporary treats is Patrick Dewitt’s offbeat and picaresque Man Booker shortlisted adventure ‘The Sister’s Brother’s’.
And finally, some good news: we can now plunder the treasures of the Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster Libraries’ reading group collections. and vice versa.
Customer Services Assistant
Chelsea Children’s Library – refurbishment
Just to let you know – Chelsea Children’s Library will be refurbished in March – so it’ll be closed from Monday 11 March 2013 for a couple of weeks. All regular children’s sessions such as baby rhyme time and storytime will be postponed while the children’s library is out of action. We’re really sorry about this – sessions will be taking place at our other libraries during this time so please take a look at children’s events page on our website.
The Christmas season leapt off to a jolly good start at North Kensington Library when thirty tiny tots and their carers attended a winter themed Baby Rhyme Time on Monday 17 December. Customer Services Assistant, Ellen Pankhurst, who regularly runs the session, led the singing and there was a special guest appearance by Senior Customer Services Assistant , Ishwari Prince, who stepped at the last-minute to cover for Father Christmas who was indisposed. He has probably been eating too many mince pies. All the children received a small gift from Father Christmas.
We have lots of lovely picture books, fact books and stories about winter and winter festivals on display in the children’s library suitable for all ages. We have Christmas classics such as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Raymond Briggs’ Snowman and lots of other fun books like Horrible Christmas and The Snow Womble.
And now onto books for adults……
Following on from the phenomenal success of the ‘Fifty shades of grey’ by E L James the adult library joined in the Stella Libraries promotion titled ‘Between the sheets’. Books were selected from existing stock and some new titles were also purchased. Books literally flew off the shelf and staff had to use their personal knowledge of literature to replenish the display. Newer titles were included plus classics such as Marquis de Sade’s Justine, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. For more information and a full list of the books included in the promotion see the Between the Sheets website.
They’ll be more from all our libraries in the north of the borough in our next post. Happy Christmas!
Each month we’ll tell you about the fantastic library services on offer at the three libraries in the north of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea:
North Kensington Library
Notting Hill Gate Library
As with the blog posts from our other branches we’ll tell you about any special events we’ll be holding and we’ll also introduce you to the staff. We hope you’ll enjoy finding out more about our libraries in the north but please do let us know via the comments section if you’d like us to cover anything else.
News From the North by North Kensington Library’s Lending Librarian
Autumn has brought a flurry of activity to the north of the borough.
On Friday 2 November a bumper crowd of 32 children plus their carers attended an Autumn/Halloween themed story and craft session in North Kensington’s Children’s Library led by Customer Services Assistant, Ellen Pankhurst and myself. The children helped create a magnificent, frieze with autumnal trees, witches and spooky houses. It is amazing how children let their imaginations run wild with a few bits of coloured paper, glue and pencils. There is even a Nemo up a tree! If you don’t know who Nemo is you will have to come and take a look.
If you are ever stuck for ideas of what to do with your children on a horrible wet weekend, all the libraries have plenty of fun activity books which you can borrow. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive craft materials. Often old boxes, packaging and pictures cut out from magazines and a little imagination is all you need for hours of fun activity.
Strictly Come Dancing visited North Kensington Library on Wednesday 14 November to film for a broadcast on Saturday 17 November. Fans were treated to a view of Flavia Cacace looking at the book shelves while Louis Smith (yes an Olympic medalist was in our library!) performed press-ups on the floor. If you’ve been inspired by Strictly Come Dancing – books, CDs and DVDs on ball room dancing and dancercise can be borrowed from our libraries.
On Thursday 15 November, as part of the Nour Festival of Arts (celebrating contemporary art, design, film and music from the Middle East and North Africa), North Kensington Library saw the launch of a new book collection comprising books in Arabic; works in translation and Arabic children’s books.
Some of the titles included are:
The now classic ‘Cairo trilogy’ by Naghuib Mahfouz; ‘The Art of Forgetting’ by Ahlem Mosteghanemi who is one of the best-selling female authors in the Arab world.
Children’s picture books ‘Hamda wa Fisaikra’- The tale of Hamda, or the Gulf Cinderella (Arabic edition) by Kaltham Al-Ghanem and ‘Al Intissar Ala Abu Derya – Victory Over Abu Derya’ by Mohamed Salem
‘Raweyat Al Aflam -the Movie-maker’ (Arabic Edition) by Hernán Letelier; ‘Asrar Sagheera – Little Secrets’ (Arabic edition) by Lebanese producer and TV host Rita Khoury
‘Islamic Art in Detail’ by Sheila Canby.
Gaynor Lynch, Lending Librarian
Baby Rhyme Time at Notting Hill Gate Library
Notting Hill Gate Library’s Baby Rhyme Time is going from strength to strength and has been getting bigger and better. Parents and carers bring their babies and toddlers for a fun session of storytelling, singing and rhymes. One parent said:
“We love coming in and listening to all the lovely stories and songs”
We recently had our biggest session yet, with the highest number of visitors in more than 6 years thanks to Adrian Lewis who runs them. Adrian joined the library in November last year , he worked previously for Hammersmith and Fulham’s Library Service who are now one of our Tri-Borough partners. He starts the sessions with stories, mainly ones where the children can interact with, using puppets and props to make it more exciting and ends with popular songs and rhymes. He said:
“I have been doing the session for a year now, I am amazed at how popular it has become. We all have a really good time and I love seeing the smiles it puts on their faces”
Favourites stories include
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Very Hungary Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Baby Rhyme Time takes place every Friday at 10.30am at Notting Hill Gate Library.
Ihssan Dhimi, Senior Customer Services Assistant
Introduce a Friend to the Library and Get a Free DVD Loan!
From 15 November to 1 December 2012 Kensal, Notting Hill Gate and North Kensington libraries are running a special promotion to encourage you to get a friend to join the library. You both will then get a free DVD loan. To take advantage of this offer one of you must already be a member and the other either a new or ‘lapsed’ member (membership expired). The offer is open to adults and children and must be taken on the day that the new member joins.