The Chelsea Blog – August 2013

Chelsea Library
Chelsea Library

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).

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.

Mr Wiz the Wizard
Mr Wiz the Wizard

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
Baby rhyme time

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.

Daniel Jeffreys

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.
Books from our Costume Collection - Ancient Egyptian dress
Books from our Costume Collection – Ancient Egyptian dress

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….!

Books from our Costume Collection - 80s fashion
Books from our Costume Collection – 80s fashion

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.
© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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.

The Chelsea Reference Library Staff


The Chelsea Blog – January 2013

Chelsea Library
Chelsea Library

Happy New Year to you from us all at Chelsea. Welcome to our second blog post – hope you don’t think we’re crazy to write about Christmas in January but we wanted to share with you some amazing pictures.

Christmas at Chelsea Library

We had a very successful Christmas baby rhyme time with the children anticipating a special visitor.

Rhyme Time Father Christmas
Baby Rhyme Time with Father Christmas

We played jingle bells, with the children helping, by shaking their sleigh harness bells, all the while getting more and more excited. It looked as if the special vistor was delayed. When finally a staff member received a mobile call from his toboggan and told the waiting children that Father Christmas was stranded in traffic near Fulham Broadway. While the gathered crowd, which included nannies and carers  were anxiously looking at watches, the double doors from the Walker Room were burst open and in came Father Christmas with a huge white beard and a sack of gifts! The children were delighted and were handed small gifts wrapped in red tissue paper. Many thanks to Senior Customer Services Assistant, Huriy Ghirmai for dressing up!

Huiry as Father Christmas
Huiry as Father Christmas

The Christmas craft event combined story telling with making Christmas cards decorated with cut out collaged shapes and sequins. My colleague, Sue Couteux organized some fantastic shapes, Christmas trees, snowmen, fairies, stars, ginger bread men, reindeer……

Christmas tree card
Christmas tree card
Christmas card with angel
Christmas card with angel

We began the event by telling the Hans Christian Anderson story The Little Fir Tree about the tree’s endless desire to look towards a brighter future rather than live in the moment. I felt a bit uprooted after the story’s ending, waiting for the next big thing. Thank goodness we had the crafts to get stuck into, with glue flying everywhere, sticky fingers, children laughing, excited gleams in their eyes.

Child enjoying the Christmas craft event
This child made lots of Christmas crafts!
Christmas craft event - decorated star
Decorated star
Christmas craft - decorated man
Decorated gingerbread man

Some of the adults listening to the story had tears in their eyes – maybe The Little Fir Tree had reminded them of what Christmas is all about? Simple pleasures, snow, cold walks in the forest, log fires, log cabins, mothers at home baking, wolves. A world away from the hubbub of the Kings Road,  running for buses and runny noses.

Christmas craft events - Decorations
Christmas crafts in a row!
Christmas craft events - Children's drawings
Christmas drawings on display

Upcoming events

We are now planning our next events for children both with a Chinese New Year theme. On Saturday 9 February we have:

  • Our new Chatterbooks reading group for 8 to 12 year olds, 10am to 10.50am
  •  A craft event for younger children, 11am  to 12 noon

What do ladybirds eat?

 I was working in the library during Christmas and New Year. A little voice piped up behind the audio books: ‘Young man, I have been adopted by a ladybird.’ An elderly lady had spent her Christmas feeding a ladybird, black with red spots, discovered on her living room floor.  ‘It has taken up with me and I want to know what to feed it. Her mouth is much too small for cake crumbs.’ There we were studying a book on greenfly, making meaningful human contact, talking about bug feeding habits on this wintry afternoon.

We often get suggestions from members of the public about how to improve our service. One interesting idea was about how to best harness the power of the totem display. Would it be possible with the heat and light being emitted from the mighty monolith that it could double up as a vertical tanning station? 

Rob Symmons, Lending Librarian

Daniel Jeffreys, Customer Services Assistant