Black History Month – writers

Our Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library display for October marks Black History Month with a showcase of writers from around the world. From literary giants like James Baldwin and Langston Hughes to unjustly neglected writers like Bessie Head, our display is a starting point from which to explore black voices.

Among many from the Americas we have: Zora Neale Hurston, who portrays the harsh realities of life in the Deep South in nevertheless rich poetic language; Ralph Ellison whose prose urges the reader to confront the painful truths of political struggle; Maya Angelou and Alice Walker whose appearance on the literary scene in the 1980s offered a view of black women’s lives written from the inside.

African writers like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe and more recent British voices like those of Aminatta Forna, Colin Grant and Jackie Kay investigate cultural dislocations and rediscoveries of heritage across continents.

We have interspersed our biographies this month with the works of some of these writers and hope you will enjoy both.

We are inaugurating a new strand of our displays this month, which will link some of the books in our Biography Store Collection to current film and TV, and also commemorate those famous people who have recently died. So this month, as the film “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” comes out, we have books on A. A. and Christopher Milne, and on Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe who are portrayed in the film “Borg vs. McEnroe”. Sad news of the death of Liz Dawn prompted us to display her autobiography.

The Biography Store Team at Kensington Central Library

Blog post from the North – January / February 2013

North Kensington Library
North Kensington Library

What’s going on in the North?

January has been a very busy month for us at North Kensington Library with planning and launching the Six Book Challenge which is taking place in all our libraries. The challenge is aimed at anyone who wishing to improve their reading or would like to read more. There’s more information about the Six Book Challenge on The Reading Agency’s website.

Craft books on display at North Kensington library
Six Book Challenge display at North Kensington Library

If you wish to take part in the Six Book Challenge 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 (I know, we are there already) 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.

Six Book Challenge display at Notting Hill Gate Library
Six Book Challenge display at Notting Hill Gate Library

You can read anything (e.g. a book, poem, graphic novel or magazine article including e Books) but we have books in our Quick Reads and Skills for Life collections which are particularly suitable.

Sewing and craft books by Eithne Farry
Sewing and craft books by Eithne Farry

On 24 January Eithne Farry, author of ‘Yeah! I made it myself’ and ‘Lovely things to make for girls of slender means’ led a workshop at North Kensington Library. She demonstrated how to make decorative hair bands and ‘Fascinations’ using cheap and recycled materials. If you are interested in crafts and recycling/ remodling old clothes we have books, including Eithne’s, in all our libraries.

Eithne Farry craft event
Eithne Farry in action at the craft event

Eithne will be running a workshop for young people (aged 11-15) in our children’s library at North Kensington Library Wednesday 20 February 2pm to 4pm- do come along if you can!

Gaynor Lynch
Gaynor Lynch

Gaynor Lynch

Lending Librarian, North Kensington Library

Improved stock display at Kensal Library

Kensal Library
Kensal Library

‘Small is beautiful’ and ‘less is more’ are phrases we often use when talking about things on a reduced scale. Small can also be a great challenge but for creative people like Ruth Gutteridge, Senior Customer Services Assistant at Kensal Library, this is not a problem. She has given the stock at Kensal Library a much needed makeover to improve display and create additional space for the children’s and young adult collections. Ruth explains the changes she has made.

We have expanded the junior area making it easier for the children to browse the shelves and find what they are looking for. The early readers, junior and teenage fiction all now have their own shelving areas. This means that we now have much more room to display both new stock and our more popular junior titles.

Studying and relaxing at Kensal Library
Studying and relaxing at Kensal Library

Our junior non- fiction has moved next to the junior study tables. This is more accessible and makes it much easier when the children are researching for their homework. We have some excellent new books in this area from the dinosaurs to space travel!

In the adult area crime fiction continues to be very popular. We have responded to customer demand by creating a special designated crime section which also brings Kensal Library in to line with the practice at the other libraries in the ‘Triborough’ area. We have also given talking books (stories on CD) and crime fiction a more prominent position at the beginning of the adult fiction.

Enjoying the new reading area at Kensal Library
Enjoying the new reading area at Kensal Library

We have new books coming in each week so don’t forget to check the ‘New Books’ displays both at the entrance and it their designated section.

Ruth Gutteridge

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Kensal Library

‘Things Fall Apart’ at Notting Hill Gate Library

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Notting Hill Gate Library’s Reading Group recently read and discussed Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

A fascinating book that opens a window into the Ibo African Tribe, which is now South Eastern Nigeria in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Chinua Achebe expertly writes about their customs, language, beliefs, superstitions and the conflicts faced within their own tribes and with the white missionaries.

Things Fall Apart we all agreed was an easy read but Chinua Achebe included many of the Ibo proverbs and even used the Ibo language for many words so at times it could be a little confusing but we believe in doing so he preserved the essence of the Ibo culture.

Prior to reading the novel we all thought it would follow the normal attitude towards colonisation, but we were rather surprised and all commented on how Chinua Achebe had kept quite a neutral ground, exploiting the weaknesses from both sides so the reader may then ask their own questions and come to their own conclusions.

Chinua Achebe wrote this in response to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This book was also read by the group last year so it was great to draw similarities and comparisons between the two.

We also were very lucky to have three members of the group who had lived with the Ibo tribe in the 1950s, so of course we wanted to know everything!!

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Cutomer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library