What our work experience teens thought of our library

Throughout the year, RBKC libraries welcome a number of volunteers and work experience students from neighbouring secondary schools. For many, it can be their first introduction to the world of work and for us, it’s a great opportunity to reintroduce them to the library service and the vast range of services we now offer.

Shimon and Mohammed both completed a two-week stay at North Kensington Library and share a little about their experiences there. Continue reading “What our work experience teens thought of our library”


Walking in the Rain at North Kensington Library

Inspired by J Opie
Julian Opie’s ‘Walking in the Rain’


Art & Craft activities have been my passion. So, you can imagine my excitement and happiness when more than 20 children and adults came for the Half-term session and enjoyed the activity inspired by Julian Opie’s iconic paintings “Walking in the rain”. I have to admit that I anxiously wondered where we would squeeze all these creative art-loving-visitors. Well, they were everywhere. And several groups stayed the whole afternoon.

Samarah 11, Selma 7, Mariam 6 and Adam 3.
Samarah 11, Selma 7, Mariam 6 and Adam 3. Arts and Craft at North Kensington Library, inspired by ‘Walking in the Rain’


It was a Rainy Day, but I did not sing: “Rain, rain go away, Come again another day”.

No, we were all actually pleased that it was raining.

Several days before and after the session whoever came to the library wanted to contribute to our display. The final result was so fa-bu-lo-us that I had to contact Julian Opie and invite him to see our master-piece. And he replied! He liked it!

“Dear Zvezdana Popovic
Wow – that looks great – I’ll try to pop in if I am passing.
All the best

On 21st November we had another Art & Craft activity linked with the display. We looked at movement and storytelling on Parthenon frieze and on Bayeux Tapestry.

Unfortunately, the artist, Julian Opie, did not come.

Having said that, he was present – with his self-portrait and his text-message on our display.

By Zvezdana Popovic
Customer Service Assistant, North Kensington library

Free Comic Book Day in Kensington & Chelsea Libraries!

Celebrate and discover the amazing world of comics on Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day 2015

Taking place annually on the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book specialist shops around the world give away comic books – and this year, for this first time, we are very pleased to have some free comics from Forbidden Planet to give away at some of our libraries.

Participating libraries will have a poster advertising they are taking part. It’s first come, first served, so if you are an avid comic fan, visit one of the participating libraries – Brompton, Kensington Central or North Kensington Library – on Saturday 2 May to pick up your special free copy.

Free Comic Book Day 2015: DC Comics Divergence
Free Comic Book Day 2015: DC Comics Divergence available at Brompton, Kensington Central and North Kensington libraries.

What are we giving away? DC Comics: Divergence
A first look at upcoming storylines, featuring three 8-page previews for the June releases of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, as well as Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s launch of the “Darkseid War” within Justice League featuring the biggest villains in the DCU – Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and Gene Luen Yang’s DC Comics debut with celebrated artist John Romita, Jr on Superman.

Rating: Teen

Why not join the library and check out the graphic novel collection at the same time? All of RBKC’s lending libraries have a comics section, including great Manga titles at Brompton Library. If there’s something in particular you’re looking for, check the catalogue in advance to find out where it’s in stock. Once you’ve whetted your appetite, you should know that there will soon be a whole lot more for you to enjoy, as a recent big stock buy means that what you see on Saturday is just the start…

If you’ve suggestions for future stock, we’d love to hear your views – contact Customer Services Assistant David Bushell at Brompton Library. and Happy Free Comic Book Day!


“You’re a Wizard, Harry”

Leanne Bellot, CSA North Kensington Library, writes:

On Thursday 5th February 2015, North Kensington Library joined the thousands of Muggles, Witches, and Wizards that convened across the UK to celebrate the very first Harry Potter Book Night.

Magic 15Unbelievably, it has been seventeen years since the first publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. In that time, Harry Potter has evolved into a global phenomenon that has touched and inspired a generation. Harry Potter Book Night was a great opportunity for fans old and new to share their knowledge, learn new tid-bits, and celebrate this enchanting story. It was also a brilliant and exciting way to introduce prospective readers to the franchise. There were so many great moments, both in the planning stages and during the actual event. Here is a summary of some of the mischief managed!

Decoration Preparation

I drew inspiration from some of the most iconic scenes in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” to form ideas on how to best transform the Children’s library into a little piece of the Wizarding world.

From “Chocolate Frogs” to “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans”, we had some of the best wizarding confectionary on display in our window. Although the actual chocolate frogs were nowhere to be seen, we did remember to display our collectible wizard cards.

The handmade wands we produced were pretty impressive; they came in different colours, a variety of cores (dragon heartstring, unicorn hair and phoenix feathers), different sizes, and were at least two Galleons cheaper. Ollivander, the famed wand-maker, had better watch out!

Mirror of ErisedZvezdana Popovic, our senior customer service assistant, created a charming version of the Mirror of Erised. In the book, the mirror is described as being able to show people their hearts’ deepest desires through their reflection. For Harry, who has never known his parents, this desire manifested in a vision of a loving family with living parents. Visitors to the library were encouraged to look into the mirror and share what they saw looking back at them.

Of course, no Philosopher’s Stone celebration would be complete without a Sorting Hat. I made our Sorting Hat from newspaper, mod rock and a copious amount of glue. It took two weeks to make all the props and although it did get a bit messy, it was not only great fun but also incredible to see the faces of the children who saw everything for the first time on the day.

Hogwarts: A “New” History

If you knew anything about the architecture of Hogwarts, forget it. Ours was actually built during our January Story and Craft session. Led by Zvezdana, the attendees were invited to help design and construct their very own School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Billards, one of the families in attendance, helped to design and decorate one of the castle’s sides. I can hardly tell the difference between ours and the one used for the movies – it is just that great. Happily, the family also came along to the main event and posed for some lovely photographs in front of their hard work.

Harry Potter Book Night: Madam Malkin’s Robes and the Sorting Hat Ceremony

Zvezdana brought a chest full of wonderfully magical looking cloaks, robes and cloths that the children wasted no time in using to dress up in. Likewise, we staff members had a lot of fun dressing up for the event. Lynn Terrel (Kensington Central Library) looked the part in a very McGonagall-esque outfit that had many children exclaim excitedly upon her entrance. Silva Memic, Sophie Rose and Zvezdana all looked great in their velvety magical ensembles and I did my best impression of a Gryffindor student (although obviously, it was a bad decision as I quickly received a rather stern telling off from one young witch for failing to choose Ravenclaw as my house – maybe next year?).

Without a doubt, the best dressed of the night had to be the young wizard who came as a young Harry Potter. He looked absolutely fantastic in his Gryffindor robes and took it like a champion even when he was subsequently sorted into Slytherin.

The Sorting Hat ceremony was loud, lots of fun and a great photo opportunity. The children were invited to sit on the chair and have the hat placed upon their head before blindly selecting a house from the sorting chest. Once sorted, they were given their house sticker which they wore with pride. The completion of the Sorting Hat ceremony led into the House Cup Quiz. The quiz turned out to be a really, really, passionate affair with Gryffindor as the ultimate winners. It was amazing to watch how quickly the questions were being answered and how eager each child was to earn points for their house. Next time, we will definitely need harder questions!

Mariam El Boukilli, who came to the event, shared her thoughts on the evening “I really liked the Sorting Hat and it was fun making the crafts. I liked playing Musical Statues (Stuperfy), the quiz was good – even if we didn’t win, and the prizes and sweets were really good. I had a lot of fun!”

Klaudija Cermak

We were incredibly lucky to host the talented Klaudija Cermak for a special presentation. A specialist in visual digital effects; some of Klaudija’s credits include work on two Harry Potter films, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I”. In the “Chamber of Secrets”, Moaning Myrtle, the ghost that haunts the girls’ bathroom, was her main responsibility. Klaudija revealed that she had initially been asked to work on the digital effects for the spiders but had to decline due to her arachnophobia. In the seventh film, Klaudija was responsible for the wand fighting scene between Harry, Ron and Hermione and the Death Eaters in the café. It was interesting to hear how the director would first share his vision, resulting in different processes and techniques she would then employ in order to create a product that everyone was satisfied with. The films “Troy” and “Gladiator” also appear on Klaudija’s long credit list and when briefly mentioned, Zvezdana was quick to point out that most of the audience were still restricted to U and PG certificates, much to everyone’s amusement.

It was a brilliant experience and I’m already planning for next year!

“He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting up in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (A quote has never been truer!)

Reading Well in Kensington & Chelsea

Reading Well logo


Following the Reading Agency launch of the Reading Well Books on Prescription Dementia Collection on Monday 26 January, libraries across the three boroughs gave community and health partners, as well as members of the public, the chance to find out about our Reading Well initiatives, with collection launches at five libraries.

The first launch event was at Pimlico Library (read more on Books & the City) and the final two took place at Hammersmith and Fulham libraries (read more on LBHF Libraries). Nestled between were the launches in Kensington and Chelsea:

North Kensington launch of Books on Prescription Dementia Collection
North Kensington launch of Reading Well – Books on Prescription Dementia Collection


The first Kensington launch was at North Kensington Library on 4 February, a lunchtime event with partners from the Stroke Association, Age UK, the Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster Memory Service, Open Age, West African Women’s network development and the Depression Alliance.  The Remembering Together display was on show and attracted a lot of interest.

North Kensington display including Books on Prescription core and Dementia Collections, plus Mood Boosting Books
North Kensington display including Books on Prescription core and Dementia Collections, plus Mood Boosting Books


Then it was the turn of Brompton Library on 6 February, led by librarian Stephanie Webb and Diane Sherlock, author of Come into the Garden. Stephanie and Diane led a discussion on Reading Well Books on Prescription over tea and scones with members of the public who shared their own experiences of caring for relatives with dementia. Kathryn Gilfoy from Westminster Arts answered questions about living well with dementia, Kathryn runs the memory cafes in north and south Westminster. Diane read some of her poems.

Five different launches in different libraries in the three boroughs, only made possible by joint working with library staff and health and community partners.

Very warm thanks to Silva, Adisa, Gaynor and Besant at North Kensington, Katie and Stephanie at  Brompton and all colleagues! Thanks to Diane Sherlock and Nell Dunn who donated their time and to Kathryn and Freya from Westminster Arts. Thanks to the Stroke Association who donate their time and resources to help prevent vascular dementia by preventing stroke.

Libraries are doing their bit for Dementia.  If you would like to join the Dementia Alliance, contact Helen.ODonovan@alzheimers.org.uk.

[Kate Gielgud]


Electric Babyland on tour!

Leanne Bellot and Silvia Sousa, North Kensington Library, write:

A couple of months ago, North Kensington Children’s Library had several celebrity visitors: apart from Father Christmas, we had two very special, and talented, hosts for our Baby Rhyme Time session. Dressed in matching elf jumpers (it was Christmas!), Daniel and Robert (on loan from Chelsea Library, pun intended) came to North Kensington to give us their thrilling Electric Babyland session as a festive treat.

The words “thrilling”, “loud” and “exciting” come to mind when I try and describe the experience. But even then, Electric Babyland seemed to generate a myriad of feelings, that limiting it to these three adjectives does it a disservice.

Electric Babyland!
Electric Babyland!

The amps were the focus of several curious gazes but when the iconic strums to “Wild Thing” began to play, it didn’t take long for most of the children (and the adults!) to start getting their groove on.  And if the giggles and wiggles we witnessed are any indication, we several future rock stars to look forward to! One Direction, who?

We quite enjoyed our “Route 52” rendition of “Wheels on the Bus” (we travelled all the way from Ladbroke Grove to Willesden Junction!) and let me be the first to say that there was a lot of passionate “shh, shh, shh” going on!

Things got a little bit competitive when it came to a post code-challenge “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”! Sufficient to say, Daniel and Robert were blown away with our talented children and their superior skills. Better luck next time, guys!

If after the session, we borrowed a copy of “Guitar for Dummies” and dusted off our once-used-and-quickly-abandoned-guitar, we would never tell. Guess we will have to see what our next Baby Rhyme Time sessions bring!

Find out when our Baby Rhyme Time sessions are held here!








Matisse meets Pharrell at North Kensington Children’s library

Zvezdana Popovic, North Kensington Senior Customer Services Assistant, writes…

Come and see the amazing display created by the children of North Kensington Library.

Matisse meets Pharrell – Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth!
Matisse meets Pharrell – Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth!

It all began with just five pieces of art produced at our June Art and Craft session inspired by Matisse’s Cut-outs exhibition at Tate Modern. Soon everybody wanted to make and add their own pieces. Suddenly we had cut outs of hands all over the place – and if you have more hands, the natural thing to do is to CLAP!

So we clapped and the idea was born …

Matisse display (2) Matisse display (3) Matisse display (6) Matisse display (7)

We named our display: Matisse meets Pharrell – Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.

Matisse meets Pharrell!
Matisse meets Pharrell!


North Kensington Library blog

October is the month of literary awards and festivals. The Man Booker Prize always brings excitement and manages to cause controversy. Last year there were complaints about too many debut novelists being included.  Other years it has been accused of being too ‘high brow’, not having enough women authors nominated etc.

My favourite novel of the year did not even make it to the Booker long list, probably because it is a debut novel, written by a women and accused by some of being too popularist.  Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles ‘is a triumph of glitzy story-telling over literary depth’ (Philip Womack, Telegraph 30 may 2012).

Miller’s imaginative retelling of the tale of Achilles and his friend Patroclus is full of poetic imagery, heightened emotions and vivid, sensuous descriptions of the Greek landscape. I read it while lying under an olive tree and by the sea in Corfu, which added greatly to the books atmosphere and my enjoyment. It had nothing to do with the jug of local wine which I had by my hand of course.

Man Booker Prize Board
Man Booker Prize Board

At North Kensington Library we are celebrating the Man Booker Prize 2012 with a people’s wall inviting you to tell us about your favourite new novel of 2012. It doesn’t matter what it is so long as it was published this year.

The Mann Booker Shortlist
Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books)
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories/Faber & Faber)
Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies (Fourth Estate)
Alison Moore, The Lighthouse (Salt)
Will Self, Umbrella (Bloomsbury)
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis (Faber & Faber)

Also this month a strange, large object landed at North Kensington Library. It may look like an alien invader but it is in fact a scale model representation of KALC (sounds like an alien to me). KALC is short for the Kensington Aldridge Academy and Leisure Centre. Visit www.rbkc.gov.uk/kalc for up to date information and links to important strategy and planning documents. The new academy is planned to open to year 7 students in September 2014.

Kensington Aldridge Academy and Leisure Centre
Kensington Aldridge Academy and Leisure Centre

by Gaynor Lynch