The Chelsea Blog – February 2013

Chelsea Library
Chelsea Library

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.

Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year

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!

A Chinese dragon on display at Chelsea Library
A Chinese dragon on display at Chelsea Library

 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!

Another Chinese dragon on display at Chelsea Library!
Another Chinese dragon on display at Chelsea Library!

 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.  

The Long Song by Andrea Levy
The Long Song by Andrea Levy

 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.  

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

 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.     

James Dunne
James Dunne

James Dunne

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.


Empty Spaces part 2: the writing on the floor

Dave Walker, our Local Studies Librarian has been documenting the changes at Kensington Central Library. You can catch up with his first piece, Empty Spaces.

Dave is the author of our extremely popular blog, The Library Time Machine – do take a look as it showcases some of the amazing photos we have in our archive.  So over to Dave again….

For the second of these looks at the refurbishment of Kensington Central Library we go down to the ground floor. This is the former counter area with all the old furniture cleared out.


And here’s a tall window, much loved by our Planning and Conversation department.


And three windows which I quite like.


There were no plans to do anything especially creative with the concrete floor but some drilling had to be done and the contractors had a problem – they didn’t know exactly where all the cables and pipes under the floor were. So one weekend some specialists came in and x-rayed the area.


The colour coded marks indicate the presence of water and gas pipes, electrical conduits and ley lines (possibly).


There are also some messages, some of them easy enough to figure out (if you’re an electrician).


Others simple and enigmatic.


Others look like pictograms.


The first piece of equipment to enter the space was the sorter, which was carefully assembled before any further work was done. (The sorter is used by the public when returning their library items.)


Here’s a book’s eye view.


The writing is now covered over with carpet tiles, but it’s still there. At some time in your next visit to the library you may be standing on this.


Will you experience a sudden urge to change direction?

Dave Walker
Dave Walker

Dave Walker, Local Studies Librarian

Kensington Central Library

Empty spaces

Dave Walker, our Local Studies Librarian has been documenting the changes at Kensington Central Library. He’s the author of our extremely popular blog, The Library Time Machine – do take a look as it showcases some of the amazing photos we have in our archive.  So over to Dave…..


Regular users of  Kensington Central Library cannot fail to have noticed that a certain amount of building work has been going on in the last year. One of my occasional tasks has been to take photographs of the work in progress. It’s been odd to walk around in those familiar spaces suddenly made unfamiliar while they are stripped of furniture and floor coverings, walls are painted, woodwork is polished and new electrical cables installed. I kept away from the busy times mostly and went in during breaks and after hours so I could get the pictures I needed to record the work but also to catch unfamiliar views in the empty spaces. I have quite a few pictures – that’s the pleasure and the curse of digital photography – so here are some pictures of just one room getting ready for its new role during the middle months of 2012.

What are those yellow spots for? You’ll see.


A remnant of 1950s electrical provision – several of these holes were uncovered during the work.

DSC_0614 one of those holes again

The south window of the east wing on the first floor.


Supports for the shiny new false floor.

Supports for the shiny new false floor

The new floor allows access to the electrical conduits.


Purple for data and black for power I think.



The finished floor and ramp ready for the new furniture.


If you like these pictures I have more. Just leave a comment if you want to see them.

Dave Walker
Dave Walker

Dave Walker, Local Studies Librarian

Kensington Central Library