Cityread London 2018

May’s display from the Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library showcases books related to the Spanish Civil War, as the Cityead London book this year is The Muse by Jessie Burton, a novel set partly during that time – and Cityread starts tomorrow, 1 May.

Obviously, we have picked from our shelves biographies of major political actors in the conflict, such as General Franco and the Republican President Caballero, as well as cultural figures with an association with the conflict, such as Picasso and Lorca, along with commentators such as Orwell. But we have also found that we have a fair number of volumes by or about the many ordinary people who fought in the conflict, particularly those volunteers from overseas who joined the International Brigades on the Republican side.

The Spanish Civil War is widely viewed as the prelude to the Second World War, happening as it did between 1936 and 1939, and consequently as predominantly a conflict between Democracy and Fascism. However, on closer examination, things seem much more complicated – so complicated that Biography Store team have almost despaired of writing anything brief and coherent on this topic.

The history of Spain for the hundred or so years before the outbreak of the war is very complicated but arguably characterised by extreme internal instability following the loss of nearly all of the Spanish empire in the Americas by the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. This was followed by attempts to modernise in competition with the other European states on a new basis. But Spain remained very underdeveloped compared to these other states in the early twentieth century, economically, socially, and politically, so that the hardship suffered in the Great Depression led to fresh instability and ultimately the War.

This was broadly between on the one side the conservative, pro-church, Army-backed “Nationalist” forces supported by Nazi Germany and Italy and on the other the Republican coalition of liberals, socialists, anarchists, and communists, which was backed by the Soviet Union, though the Republican side was far from entirely united. In this sense, one could see the war as a repeat (but with a very different outcome) of the Russian Civil War, rather than as a prelude to the Second World War. Nevertheless, the rather half-hearted support for the Republic by the Soviet Union and the non-intervention of the ‘Western’ powers can be seen as cautious foreign policy positions – wishing not to provoke premature outright confrontation with the Axis powers.

Do come into the library and take a look, and also check out our Cityread London events that are happening this month.

The Biography Store Team, Kensington Central Library

 

 

 

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London in 10 Days- it’s gripping!

 

It’s 4am and Cathy Mason is watching dawn break over the Lovelace Estate. By the end of the day, her community will be a crime scene. By the end of the week, her city will be on fire. In this gripping thriller by Orange Prize-shortlisted author Gillian Slovo, ten unpredicable days of violence erupt from a stifling heatwave. And, as Westminster careers are being made or ruined, lives are at stake.

Ten Days is about what happens when policitcs, policing and the hard realities of living in London collide.

10_daysHave you heard of Cityread yet? Cityread is a London-wide initiative by Stellar Libraries CIC which aims to get Londoners reading a book – the same book – for the month of April. This year’s chosen title is the gripping Ten Days by Gillian Slovo.

And we’re lucky enough to be hosting the author herself at Chelsea Library on Tuesday 19 April from 2 to 3.30pm: free copies of the book will be available for attendees. You can book a free place online, by emailing us (libraries@rbkc.gov.uk) or by phoning Librariesline on 020 7361 3010.

Don’t miss out! A range of free events are listed on the Cityread London website. Our favourite so far: have a look at the interactive digital storytelling installation Stories from the City in Foyles on Charing Cross Road. Immerse yourself in the first vital  72 hours of Ten Days which lead up to the book’s explosive riots through a Police Control Centre; examine evidence relating to disturbances in Rockham which are rapidly escalating and have begun to spread across London; select an item of evidence from each scene and place it on the designated control panel, unlocking audio extracts from the story taken from the audiobook; explore themes and analyse evidence.

foyles_cityread
Stories from the City: interactive storytelling

The boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster City Council are hosting a range of special events and exhibitions during the month.

Go on- get lost in a good book with the rest of your city. It might even give you something to talk about with your fellow commuters…

 

The Brompton Blog – April 2013

Brompton Library
Brompton Library

The Easter holidays have ended and so (it seems) has the bitterly cold weather which refused to succumb to the golden rays of spring and appears to have finally relinquished its icy grasp of the country- hooray!  

New books at Brompton!

New books on display
New books on display

Over these last few weeks Brompton Library has been busy with students, computer users and book borrowers as well as groups from local schools, families and children who have been taking home a selection of newly received picture books, educational material and junior/teen fiction which we have added to our shelves.

More new books
More new books

In addition to this we also have new stock of non-fiction including celebrity-chef cookery books and travel guides, contemporary-fiction and classic anthologies from authors such as H.P Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, newly released albums by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Johnny Marr and DVDs including The Hobbit and Seven Psychopaths -the new film from In Bruges director Martin McDonagh and star Colin Farrell.

Story and craft sessions

During the Easter holiday period we also continued to run story and craft activities for young children overseen by our wonderful staff members, Elisabeth and Katie and with help from our lovely weekly volunteer, Lisa.

The first session was on Sat 6 April 2013 – we read a Charlie and Lola story: ‘We completely must go to London’ by Lauren Child. We looked at the map at the back of the book showing the famous places they had seen & how they got there.

Football pictures on display
Football pictures on display

At the second session we  focused on football so we read ‘Willy the Wizard’ by Anthony Browne and ‘Football Fever’ by Alan Durant. We made football pictures by sticking on a goal, a goalkeeper & other players. We also had a picture of a footballer to colour.

There was another session on Sat 13 April; this time the theme was transport, so our stories were about buses and trains.

Taxidermy at Brompton

Well, where were you all on Saturday 16 March? Well we had what must rank as one of the unlikeliest events to be held in a library (with the possible exception of pole dancing!).  Now you will never know the joy of watching someone skin and stuff a dead rat!

Seriously, this was a fascinating demonstration of the craft of taxidermy. The delicacy and skill needed to detach the skin from the membrane containing the innards was surprising and it’s not at all grisly or smelly.

The photos are more during and after than before and after. In the first you can see the skin taking shape with cotton wool inside.

Amanda putting cotton wool into a rat
Amanda putting cotton wool into a rat

In the second you have the sweetest rat ever!

The finished rat!
The finished rat!

For more information see Amanda’s website for some truly esoteric taxidermy. According to Amanda, taxidermy is the new knitting!

Stephanie Webb
Stephanie Webb

Stephanie Webb

Lending Librarian

Katie’s Corner

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

 As part of the Cityread London 2013 our reading group was asked to read ‘A Week in December’, Sebastian Faulk’s multi-character novel looking into the lives of people across London. Memorable characters include a tube train driver, a suicide bomber, a book reviewer and a financier.

I had quite a reaction to the book. Some people could not get past page 70. There were several characters which I thought were very unconvincing. However what made me re-evaluate my poor impression of the book was some marvellous viewpoint from one of my members, that Faulks deliberately made the characters more larger-than-life, because he wanted his book to have more of an impact on the reader, especially with regards to the financial gloom and doom.

Sebastian Faulks
Sebastian Faulks

Faulks goes into detail with how this financier managed and played with people’s money and it really brings home to you how vile and destructive these people were, and also how we as a populace were so ignorantly blissful to it. It was great to read Faulks’ own assessment about this in the Evening Standard this week.

Overall, I do not believe that it is Faulks’ finest piece of work and it did not have the pathos of his other books, but then again this book was not about that – it is a statement also about how we live in this cruel and brilliant London and the deep-rooted connections that binds us all.

Speaking of which, as an alternative choice to this year’s Cityread, I offered my reading group ‘The Lonely Londoners’ by Sam Selvon. Set in 1950s London, it follows the fortunes of folk who have come to the UK from the West Indies to make a new life. This, I have to say, drew fulsome praise from my reading group. They thought it was sad, funny, and poignant and the language and different words adopted for different parts of London made it a fascinating read. For two members it struck them with shame that we treated these newcomers in this way. Their harsh and lonely way of life is transcended by the beautiful and gentle prose of Selvon; this book is highly recommended by our reading group!

And finally, we recently had a visit from the BBC film crew for The One Show in which they filmed me ‘shushing’ an actor making a disturbance in the library. My performance was certainly Oscar worthy!

Katie Collis
Katie Collis

Katie Collis

Senior Customer Services Assistant

The Chelsea Blog – April 2013

Chelsea Library
Chelsea Library

Hello from us all at Chelsea Library! Chelsea Children’s Library has been very busy as we ran a number of successful children’s events over the school holidays. This month we’re starting a new mini series on The Chelsea Blog – some interesting  facts about Chelsea Reference Library.

Children’s events

Our events this month tied in with the London wide Cityread London campaign. This year’s book is ‘A Week In December’ by Sebastian Faulks. We tailored our craft events to themes in the novel.

Chelsea Children's Library City Reads
A London Underground bookmark

For our first event we prepared materials with a London Underground and football theme. Boys and girls relished making their very own designed bookmarks.

A football bookmark
A football bookmark
Another football bookmark!
Another football bookmark

And as you can see the results were impressive! The children then gathered around for a Thomas the Tank engine story.

Easter crafts
Easter crafts

Our next event was on the lines of an Easter egg hunt only this time we used miniature chocolate footballs. First of all the children cut out a card template and then assembled with glue a little Easter basket . This was then filled with shredded paper to resemble straw.

An Easter bunny mask
An Easter bunny mask

We hid clues for the hunt  throughout the children’s library  and   excitedly the boys and girls went off in search of the chocolate balls. We then read ‘Football crazy’ by Colin  McNaughton.

Baby rhyme time was exciting this month as it had a London theme  too – we all sang:

  • London Bridge is falling down
  • Oranges and lemons
  • Pussy cat, pussy cat where have you been?
  • Do you know the muffin man?

Everyone joined in and promised to come to storytime the next day where we continued the London theme – we adapted ‘Puss in Boots’ and  to a London setting and the Marquis of Carabas became the Marquis of Sloane Square  and the river in the story changed to the Thames.

Details of when our children’s events are can be found on the ‘What’s on page’ on our website.

Rob Symmons

Lending Librarian

Great facts about Chelsea Reference Library

#1.The Fashion Collection

 Chelsea Reference Library has an extensive collection of fashion books as well as a large archive of fashion magazines dating back to 1924.

Traditional costume
Traditional costume

The book collection covers a wide range of subjects such as costume and fashion history, regional and national costumes, occupational attire, military uniforms and different types of accessories including jewellery, shoes, hats etcetera. Our fashion books are beautifully illustrated and have great content. The fashion and costume collection is widely used by students from Chelsea College of Art and Design based in Chelsea as well as other library users with a particular interest in fashion.

Vogue Magazine - January 2013
Vogue Magazine – January 2013

Our magazine archives include Vogue Magazine (1923 till present) Harper’s Bazaar (1950 till present, albeit with a small gap in the sequence) and L’Officiel (1947-2001). We also have a small collection of Manufacturing Clothier (1973-1988) and Vogue USA.

More information can be found on our costume collection web page.

The Chelsea Reference Library Staff

Blog post from the North – March 2013

North Kensington Library
North Kensington Library

Welcome to our blog post from the north! This month we thought we’d tell you about the exciting things that have been happening at all three of the libraries in the north – Kensal, Notting Hill Gate and North Kensington, libraries.

What’s been happening at North Kensington’s Children’s Library?

This past two months we have had a very busy time in North Kensington Children’s library and it continues to be so.

Ishwari Prince
Ishwari Prince

Saturday 9 February was National Libraries Day.  To celebrate this Senior Customer Services Assistant Ishwari Prince led a children’s craft and story session with ‘create your own book’.  This involved some origami type folding and cutting to make simple books, which the children filled with their own ideas, pictures and stories.  We were all very impressed with the creative and original ideas the children came up with, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Please visit the National Libraries Day website for more information about this day.

Valentine's Day crafts on display
Valentine’s Day crafts on display

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Zvezdana Popovic launched our new after school children’s story and craft Sessions (second Thursday of every month, 4pm to 5pm) on  Valentine’s Day  with appropriately themed crafts and romantic verse.

Spring books on display
Spring books on display

We are celebrating Spring Time with a display of books including fact books about animals, urban nature trails and nature guides, festivals such as Easter and Holi and stories for children of all ages.  We have lots of picture books and board books about spring animals.  For toddlers and babies we have I love rabbits, an interactive touch and feel book full of adorable fluffy rabbits.

My favourite fact books are Wild Town: Wildlife on your doorstep by Mike Dilger  and Usborne Spotter’s Guides: Urban Wildlife. You don’t have to visit the countryside or have a garden to enjoy nature. Both of these beautifully illustrated books introduce you to the secret world of wildlife in our cities and towns. They give useful tips on where to spot birds, animals, plants and creepy-crawlies in your local park, alongside rivers and canals and even on your doorstop or under your roof!

Gaynor Lynch
Gaynor Lynch

Gaynor Lynch

Lending Librarian, North Kensington Library

North Kensington Library’s Chatterbooks club

Chatterbooks
Chatterbooks

North Kensington Library’s Chatterbooks club is a reading group for children aged 8 to 12 years.   The club members meet on the last Thursday of the month at 4pm in North Kensington Children’s Library.  The club gives opportunity for children to share their reading experiences, discuss books, do fun activities including writing stories and poetry, quizzes and word search.  New members are welcome, so come and join us! Check out our Chatterbooks page for more information.

Adisa Behmen-Kreso

Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library

New story and craft sessions at Notting Hill Gate Library

Story and craft sessions
Story and craft sessions

Notting Hill Gate Library will be holding monthly story and craft sessions on the last Saturday of every month. Come have fun with your children, give them a chance to explore their creativity, meet new friends and better yet it’s free!

The first session will be on Saturday 27 April, 11.30 am to 12.30pm. Hope to see you and your children there!

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library

What’s been happening at Kensal Library?

Kensal Library
Kensal Library

Come along to hear wonderful stories read by engaging friendly staff at Kensal Library at our storytime sessions every Friday from 11am to 11.30am.   One Mum commented that her son and herself thought the staff were ‘amazing’.

We have a new collection of Portuguese and Arabic titles in stock which reflect the needs of our community here in the north of the borough. There’s more information about our this collection on our books in other languages page on our website.

Our first story and craft event was well attended and the children enjoyed the theme.  We read a fictional story about sharks and then looked at some non-fiction books and talked about sharks and why people are scared of them and how we can protect endangered species before making some spectacular shark jaws! The next session will be on Saturday 13 April from 3 to 4pm and will be tied in to our Cityread London events.

Natasha Chaoui

Senior Customer Services Assistant,  Kensal Library

Cityread London

Have you heard about Cityread London?

Cityread London
Cityread London

Cityread London is a campaign to spread a love of books and reading to the widest possible audience throughout our capital. By choosing one book- A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks – for the whole city to read, discuss and debate, the aim of the campaign is bring Londoners together in a series of special events, across London and online. This year’s Cityread London campaign will launch in our libraries and across the capital on 2 April 2013.

Sebastian Faulks
Sebastian Faulks

As well as opportunities to borrow A Week in December (and other works by Sebastian Faulks) from our libraries, there will also be events for children, families, young people and adults in April 2013.  

A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks
A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks

Cityread events for adults

Trains, Trams and Buses: Images from the History of Transport in Kensington and Chelsea – An Exhibition

Number 73 bus and some interesting pedestrians!
Number 73 bus and some interesting pedestrians!

Come and see images from the Local Studies collection. This exhibition has been curated by Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library at the following libraries:

  • Tuesday 2 to Saturday 6 April, Kensington Central Library
  • Monday 8 to Saturday 13 April, Brompton Library,
  • Monday 15 to Sunday 21 April, Chelsea Library
  • Monday 22 to Saturday 27 April, North Kensington Library

Creative Writing Workshop with Tamara Pollock

Tamara Pollock
Tamara Pollock

Wednesday 10 April, 2 to 4pm at Brompton Library

In this two-hour workshop led by writer and workshop director, Tamara Pollock, we will look at incorporating the theme of London in a short story. We will briefly examine the way in which Sebastian Faulks depicts London life in his novel, A Week in December. This workshop is designed to ease writers into the process of short story writing and to answer questions about character, structure and dialogue.

Places are strictly limited for this workshop, so please book your free place early at Brompton Library.

Legends of Underground London

Subterranean City by Antony Clayton
Subterranean City by Antony Clayton

Thursday 11 April, 6.30 to 8pm at Kensington Central Library

Antony Clayton, author of Subterranean City: Beneath the Streets of London, presents an illustrated talk that will uncover some of the colourful folklore of underground London including legends of secret tunnels and passages, pigs in the sewers and buried trains. Please book your free place to this event at Kensington Central Library.

Inconvenient People – Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England

Sarah Wise
Sarah Wise

Thursday 18 April, 6.30 to 8pm at Kensington Central Library

Sarah Wise looks at 75 years of psychiatry in 19th Century England bringing to light new research and unseen stories of contested lunacy. Exploring Victorian social history, she provides a unique insight into the sexuality, fears and greed of the Victorian middle class. Sebastian Faulks chose this as one of his Books of the Year (2012). Sarah did some of the research for her book at Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library. Please book your free place to this event at Kensington Central Library.

Cityread events for children, families and young people

Drama Workshop with Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea

Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea in action!
Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea in action!

Tuesday 9 April, 2 to 3pm at Kensington Central Library

Age: seven to 14

Join Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea for a fun-filled, inclusive performance workshop. Inspired by the 150th birthday of the London Underground we’ll be heading off on an adventure exploring London through dance, drama and music. This is a great opportunity for young people to develop their performance skills using Chickenshed’s proven teaching methods and unique performance style. Places are limited so please book your free place in advance at Kensington Central Children’s Library.

Story and Craft Sessions – Kensington and Chelsea Libraries

Story and craft sessions
Story and craft sessions

We’ll be having special Cityread story and craft sessions for children aged four to ten at the following libraries:

  • Tuesday 2 April, 2 to 3pm at Notting Hill Gate Library
  • Thursday 4 April and Thursday 11 April, 2 to 3pm at Kensington Central Library
  • Thursday 4 April and Thursday 11 April, 2.30 to 3.30pm at North Kensington Library
  • Saturday 6 April and Saturday 13 April, 11am to 12 noon at Brompton Library
  • Saturday 6 April and Saturday 13 April, 11am to 12 noon at Chelsea Library
  • Saturday 13 April, 3 to 4pm at Kensal Library

We hope that you will be inspired to join in with this campaign in order to make London’s second Cityread has successful as the first. More details about how to book are on our Cityread events page and for more events across London take a look at Cityread London’s website too.

Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
Jodie Green

Jodie Green

Lending Librarian