Health talks and Horses in the North

January got off to a flying start at the libraries in the north. We have had a flurry of health events and information stalls including a Stop Smoking information Stall at North Kensington and information, advice and free blood pressure checks at Kensal library, offered by the Stroke association and a big Community Health Options Day, run by the umbrella health organisation Healthworks, at North Kensington Library.

Also new for 2014 are regular drop in Health Trainer Sessions at all our three libraries. Kensal, North Kensington and Notting Hill. Please contact your local library for further details (the website has more information).

Earlier in the month we had a fantastic event at North Kensington Library– Charlotte Reed came to speak about her book ‘May the thoughts be with you’. It was fascinating to hear how after developing chronic RSI and leaving her job she decided to write and illustrate a book of positive thoughts. It was really interesting to hear about her experiences of self-publishing and how she has managed to turn her book into a full-time business. Charlotte spoke with such passion – it was a motivating evening.

If you’re interested to find out more, check out Charlotte’s website or pop over to see her on her stall on Portobello Road!

The children have also been very busy with our regular book clubs, story and craft sessions. Children at North Kensington library celebrated the Chinese New Year. Zvezdana Popovic, Senior Customer Services Assistant, writes:

Chinese New Year – the Year of the Horse – began on 31st January 2014. The Horse Year is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure and surprising romance. It’s great for travel as energy is high and production is rewarded.

Were you born in the Year of the Horse?
Were you born in the Year of the Horse?

In Chinese astrology Horse Year is considered a fortunate year that brings luck and good things. The horse is a hero in China because important battles were won due to their power and strength.

People born in Horse years (2014, 2002, 1990, 1978,1966, 1954, 1942, 1930, 1918, 1906) are bright, cheerful, popular and fun loving. They find people and crowds exciting and love parties.  Horse’s childish innocence, sunny disposition and natural charm attract many friends. Usually they don’t need to struggle in order to succeed. Horses have a carefree nature and need ample room for self expression.

Horse’s earthly branch is the element Fire and its hours are 11 am to 1 pm including the heat of high noon.

Beautiful horses from talented artists!
Beautiful horses from talented artists!

Certain gemstones can influence your luck in the Year of the Horse. Gems, crystals and minerals can help channel mystic energies and vibrations to attract good fortune, love, health, and money. Lucky stones this year include moonstone, jade, topaz, alexandrite, rose quartz, pyrite and amethyst. The precious metal silver is also fortunate.

We had such a fun drawing horses and making Chinese New Year cards. I even attempted to copy Gericault’s horse for our display.

Drawing horses for Chinese New Year
Drawing horses for Chinese New Year

Please visit the children’s library at North Kensington Library to see the stunning display created by Zvezdana and the children. You can also pick up our ‘Whats going on in your library?’ booklet at the same time details all our special and regular events for adults and children.

Happy new year and for all you Treckies out there ‘live long and prosper’!

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
Chatterbooks

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.

Kensington Central Library – February 2013

Kensington Central Library in winter
Kensington Central Library

We thought we’d use the picture of Kensington Central Library in the snow again as it was snowing a little last week- really it was an excuse to use this picture again!

Our Six Book Challenge display
Our Six Book Challenge display

Have you heard about the Six Book Challenge? This is taking place in all six of our libraries and is aimed at anyone who wishing to improve their reading or would like to read more. There’s more information about the challenge on The Reading Agency’s website.

If you’d like to take part you can register at any of our libraries in Kensington and Chelsea. You complete six reads and record your reading in a diary which we provide. There are incentives along the way to encourage you to keep reading, after two reads a free CD loan and three reads a free DVD loan. If you complete by 28 June 2013 you can enter the national prize draw for a trip to London with a friend to see a show and £150 spending money. We also have a local draw for completers at the end of the summer for two Sony e-readers.

Lots of exciting things have been happening here since the last time we blogged so I’ll hand over to some of the staff here to tell you more.

Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
Jodie Green

Jodie Green

Lending Librarian

A magical storytime

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Storyteller Helen East in action!

On Monday 28 January, a magical storytime happened here with storyteller, Helen East. She guided parents and children alike though a fairy tale of Queen Mary II’s desire of a little a girl to love.

Having a go with the props
Having a go with the props

Through the use of excellent props and music Helen engaged the children’s imagination and provided a unique hands-on storytelling experience.

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The children loved looking at the props

Following on from the theme of the story was a craft session making happy Queen Mary II finger puppets, with fabric feathers and felts, which the children could take home to act out their own stories.

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Making finger puppets

This session was arranged with staff from Kensington Palace, Natalie Cain and Joy Drury to celebrate National Storytelling Week- there’s more information about this week on the Society for Storytelling’s website. Many thanks to them for doing this and for taking the amazing photos!

Gemma Baker
Gemma Baker

Gemma Baker

Senior Customer Services Assistant

Savage Continent

Author Keith Lowe
Author Keith Lowe

On the 31 January we had acclaimed author, Keith Lowe giving a very informative talk here around his latest novel Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II.

He showed some slides to illustrate some of the key moments in his book – such as the rampant chaos that ensued between the Second World War ending and the beginning of the Cold War. There was time after the talk for questions and the audience took the opportunity to ask questions about the war crimes trials and how the Cold War played a part in bringing these trials to an end.

To find out more, why not borrow a copy of Keith’s book from one of our libraries? There’s also more information on Keith Lowe’s website.

Savage Continent by Keith Lowe
Savage Continent by Keith Lowe

And if you’d like to attend any of events- just take a look at our what’s on page to see what’s coming up. We have events with Neil Mckenna and Jessica Fellowes coming up soon- get a ticket soon!

Mike Green
Mike Green

Mike Green

Senior Customer Services Assistant

National Libraries Day

National Libraries Day logo
National Libraries Day logo

Saturday 9 February was National Libraries Day and to celebrate we had a special children’s story and craft event based on Chinese New Year.

Amal and Emma getting the Chinese snakes ready
Amal and Emma getting the Chinese snakes ready

Since we were saying hello to the Year of the Snake we made fun spirally snakes! The children had great fun decorating their snakes with glitter, sequins, stickers and googly eyes!

A shaky snake!
A shaky snake!

We gathered a collection of stories with snakes in and Bochra (who’s doing work experience with us at the moment) read a few of these to the children. The children really enjoyed looking at the pictures in these books which inspired them when they were making their spirally snakes.

Bochra helping decorate a Chinese snake
Bochra helping decorate a Chinese snake

Amal Sakr and Emma Marsh

Senior Customer Services Assistants

The Brompton Blog – February 2013

Brompton Library
Brompton Library

Welcome to the latest edition of our blog. We have been exceptionally busy since the start of the year with a range of events and activities that appeal to all ages across the community and a constant influx of new members and regulars making our library a popular hub of learning and enjoyment for the community.  

A special storytime

The week of 28 January to 2  February was National Storytelling Week (more information is available from the Society for Storytelling’s website) and to celebrate that Kensington Palace have been telling stories and giving craft sessions at some of our libraries throughout the week. Parents and children who came to any of those sessions were rewarded at Kensington Palace with a special performance of all the stories on the Saturday and reduced price entrance to the palace itself. This was all possible due to the partnership we have built up with our Outreach & Community Involvement colleagues at the palace over the last two years.

At Brompton Library we had a full house, our best turnout ever for a storytime, and that was before a local nursery turned up with 16 children!

Helen East, storyteller from Kensington Palace in full swing!
Helen East, storyteller from Kensington Palace in full swing!

Helen, the storyteller, managed not to tread on anyone while keeping the kids and adults enthralled with the help of glove and finger puppets, an African drum and some strangely coloured eggs! We’d all love to have Helen back for another special storytime. And after the story came the craft!

Children making finger puppets.
Children making finger puppets.

With a little help from their parents and carers the children then made their own finger puppets from press-out templates supplied by the palace and showed a concentration and attention span never before seen (not by me, anyway!)

Saturday Storyland

Brompton Library’s Saturday Storyland sessions have an increasing number of dads bringing and participating with their children. We started Saturday Storyland on 27 October and ten children and eight adults attended that very first session. Three of the adults were dads. More and more dads are coming along now and it’s great to see them engaging with their children.

Stephanie Webb
Stephanie Webb

Stephanie Webb

Lending Librarian

National Libraries Day

National Libraries Day logo
National Libraries Day logo

So far February has been really busy with events for adults and children. On National Libraries Day we launched our new monthly craft session (11am every first Saturday of the month following on from Saturday Storyland) and as it was the Chinese New Year we had a story about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac and worked out which animal was the year we were born. We celebrated the Year of the Snake and the kids loved making Chinese lanterns with crepe paper and brilliant, curly snakes. We also coloured in Chinese New Year snake pictures.

Chinese New Year crafts
Chinese New Year crafts

We are already looking forward to next month’s craft event!

Later the same day we had a visit from the “Orbirailists” – Hilary Chittenden and Victoria Foster (from Celebrate My Library) spent National Libraries Day visiting ten libraries all accessible on the new London Overground orbital train line! We were glad they made it to Brompton Library as we were the last port of call but Senior Customer Services Assistant, Katie and myself made them very welcome and they even mentioned us on Twitter! They tweeted the picture below to their followers.

Love Libraries display at Brompton Library
Love Libraries display at Brompton Library
Elisabeth Brown
Elisabeth Brown

Elisabeth Brown

Senior Customer Services Assistant

Chatterbooks

Babita, another of our Senior Customer Service Assistants led her February Chatterbooks group on 11 February and, as ever, found some innovative things for them to do to illustrate their enthusiasm for the books they’ve read.

Chatterbooks is a huge success with the children in Brompton library; always buzzing with creative children wanting to share their ideas. This reading club encourages them to read books, write reviews, recommend the books to each other and on top of everything chatting a lot (ha ha ha!). Most of the time the children themselves select a theme for their next meeting. This month the group decided to write about favourite books, authors and characters on paper leaves and stuck them on a paper tree. They were so enthusiastic that they drew pictures of their favourite characters as well. Then they displayed it on the Chatterbooks wall in the children’s library.

Chatterbooks display
Chatterbooks display

In our next Chatterbooks session which is on Monday 11 March the children will be bringing one friend along. We love Chatterbooks as much as the children do and it’s great for them and other customers to see their creativity displayed in the library! (We have Chatterbooks in some of other libraries- more informaion is available on our website)

Babita Sinha
Babita Sinha

Babita Sinha

Senior Customer Services Assistant

Authors We Love: Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin (Photo by Dan Tuffs/Getty Images)
Ursula Le Guin (Photo by Dan Tuffs/Getty Images)

 Last week, my husband and I were discussing audio books choices as he is taking his nephew on a long road-trip oop north. Aside from my nominations of Riordan, Morpugo and Horowitz, one author who my husband was keen to introduce to him was one from his own childhood: Ursula Le Guin, and her rather enjoyable Earthsea collection of fantasy books.

Son of a prominent anthropologist, Le Guin and her brother discovered sci-fi at the age of 11 which they both considered rather corny. It was when she was in her thirties that she came under its spell and led her to create the world of Earthsea, which begins with A Wizard of Earthsea, a motherless child who finds that he has magical powers. To my mind, it is a better imagined world than Harry Potter and a beautiful canon of work.

The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

 It was probably her interests in Greek mythology and folklore that Le Guin wrote (much later) Lavinia, a barely written character in Vergil’s Aeneid which came out as her recent adult novel. Le Guin is able to revive a real breadth of life and character into Lavinia and recreates a world in which she exists that is well drawn.

 So these are just two examples of why Ursula Le Guin is a great writer and an underrated one: for half a century she has been prolific in adult and children’s fiction, short-stories, essays and poems. To me she is up there with the likes of Margaret Atwood and Donna Tartt – female authors who are able to devise dark and powerful story-telling and who push the boundaries of creativity.

 We have plenty of Ursula Le Guin books in our libraries including the Earthsea series, so come and check them out!

Katie Collis
Katie Collis

 Katie Collis

Senior Customer Services Assistant