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”


Get Coding!

As is traditional at the end of the school year, we tried to do something a bit different for the last Code Club as a reward for the kids who have attended so regularly and with such enthusiasm. We brought over some basic electronics kits (Little Bits), taught them the basics of how they connect and with the help of some craft materials (paper plates, paper scissors, pens) let them get creative. As each component is colour coded by function and snaps together magnetically, the kids caught on really fast (they only had an hour) and produced some great results, including wagging tongues, flashing eyes, whirling optical illusions and a fan-powered paper plane! There was just time to show them some of our augmented reality books too. Continue reading “Get Coding!”

Volunteer Thank You Reception

Library Volunteers were welcomed by the Mayor Councillor Robert Freeman and his wife to the annual ‘Thank You Reception’ event. Held in the Mayor’s Parlour at Kensington Town Hall, this event gives volunteers the chance to meet and talk to others about their volunteering experience.

Group photo of volunteers
Group photo of volunteers

The Mayor welcomed them all by saying how important the contribution of volunteers is to the service and how they have helped with a range of activities for children and adults. He also found time to talk to many of the volunteers individually about the libraries they had worked in and the activities they had been involved in.

Councillor Will the Cabinet member for Libraries, also said a few words commenting on the number of hours of volunteering, which was 1,500 over the year. She paid particular attention to the work done by the volunteers in supporting children’s activities through homework clubs and to the 16 volunteers who had supported many of the 983 children participating in the Summer Reading Challenge.

She was also particularly interested in one of the highlights this year which has been the new partnership between Libraries and the homeless charity GlassDoor, which has been made possible through the commitment of one of our volunteers who helps deliver English classes at the Chelsea Methodist Centre .

Gaynor Lynch the librarian at North Kensington Library talked about the value of volunteers in her library. In particular their contribution to the Summer Reading Challenge and the homework clubs, a number of her volunteers were in attendance.

Each volunteer received a certificate from Councillor Will and had their photograph taken with the Mayor.

Volunteer receiving certificate
Volunteer receiving certificate

Volunteers really appreciate this event which is now in its third year and this time we were able to extend the invitation to the volunteers from the Northeastern University in Boston who have spent a few months in the UK and a short time of which was spent assisting us with the homework clubs. The event was a great experience for them and everyone enjoyed it. .

Let’s keep actively recruiting and working with volunteers, so they can make an enormous contribution to the work we do in Libraries.

By Sue Cornish,
Tri Borough Adult Learning Co-ordinator  Community Development

Summer Reading Challenge success!

The summer holidays drew to a close last week and with it ended this year’s summer reading challenge…and what a challenge it was! We had Medusas at Chelsea, sea monsters at Brompton, yetis and unicorns all over the place:  all kinds of weird and wonderful fantasy creatures appearing across the borough.


Mermaid Madness!
Mermaid Madness!

This year saw hundreds of children taking part, and almost all completing the challenge and triumphantly taking home their SRC certificates. A huge well done to them all…and what have our staff got to say about their Mythical maze experiences?

This is my third year of being involved in the Summer Reading Challenge and feel like an old hand now! The Mythical Maze theme was really popular with the kids and they loved their own Maze and getting the stickers. The rewards were better this year and, for those who knew how to fold them, the fortune tellers went down very well – I think all the staff were accosted by children wanting to tell their fortunes! We’ve been helped this year (as in previous years) by some really great volunteers, 3 of whom have been with us at least once before and our newbies have done really well at engaging the kids – we’d have been really hard pressed without them! Here at Brompton we were all a bit worried that we’d set the bar quite high last year and wouldn’t get the same level of participation this year but so far we have even more starters and finishers than last year, and we’re still counting! Our finishers are now looking forward to the party later in the month.


Yes, don’t forget the summer reading challenge finisher’s party- coming soon to a library near you!

And from a volunteer…

I was extremely impressed by the new iPad sessions that were introduced this summer. It is great to promote new technology in libraries and in turn see it become more modernised. The children very visibly enjoyed exploring the library with the iPads, trying to scan all of the characters and discovering the challenging games in the app.

As I have been volunteering for a couple of summers, people often ask me why do I keep coming back. The answer is simple. I do it to promote reading skills, I do it for the joy on children’s faces and I do it for all the lovely librarians. And I hope to keep doing it for many more summers to come!

one of our brilliant volunteers
One of our brilliant volunteers

The Mythical Maze app was a great bonus this year- it (literally!) brought the monsters alive!

And from Chelsea library:

Dozens of volunteers signed up before the beginning of summer to help out in the borough’s libraries. They were here for one specific purpose – the summer reading challenge! Once accepting the challenge, and receiving a maze poster, there were prizes for entrants to win along the way. For each book there was the chance to win scratch and sniff stickers (thankfully not as smelly as last year!), wristbands, keychains and a maze puzzle – which folds into a chatterbox. On completing 6 books, challengers received a gold medal and certificate!

Alongside the challenge, there have been numerous activities and craft sessions held, based around the ‘Mythical Maze’; including pop-up cards, mask making and model building…


So, as the summer holidays draw to a end, the challenge is nearly over, and with it hundreds of prizes won and numerous challenges completed! This reflects the success of last year and hopefully shows to be a sign that next year will build upon this…

We’re sure it will!

Staff, volunteers, and of course the children all had great fun with the summer reading challenge this year- it’s been creative, exciting, and, well, monstrous and mythical!


Our amazing volunteers help provide IT for all!

Owen Grey, Reference Librarian, writes: 

Here at Kensington & Chelsea libraries, our volunteers do a fantastic job: this is just a quick update on the computer help sessions being run by our amazing helpers!


Volunteers have been running sessions in Kensington Central Library for some time now. As time goes on not only are they able to teach others new skills on computers, but also on a variety of devices:  it isn’t just PCs out there any more…

Our volunteers can help you to get to grips with:

  • Laptops
  • Phones (e.g iPhones and Android devices)
  • Tablets (e.g. iPads)

They have also been able to master new skills themselves through the use of these devices, often learning alongside their students. I was able to witness this myself when I had my first go on Windows 8!

If you are a beginner or want to learn more, then feel free to come along to one of our sessions in the community space in Kensington Central Library. You can either come along to one of our drop-in sessions on Saturdays or book a session on Tuesday or Thursday mornings. For times of these sessions and other regular adult events please check our website here.

So a big thank you to our great volunteers for keeping these sessions up and running and being prepared to teach users not just on library computers but much more!

If you are interested in volunteering in Kensington and Chelsea, either in one of our libraries or somewhere else, then please get in touch with the Kensington and Chelsea Volunteer Centre.

Our Community, Our Stories: the book!

Steph Webb, Brompton Librarian, writes:

At the beginning of the year Brompton library began another collaboration with Celebrate My Library for an inter-generational project called Our Communities, Our Stories. The project aimed to bring together local schoolchildren (largely from our Chatterbooks reading group) and older volunteers (from the Kensington and Chelsea Older Residents Forum) to discuss the differences between being a child now compared with the memories of childhood of their older “buddies”.

In the middle of January we all got together for a supremely well-organised session which had to find time for the discussions to take place, the children to do their creative writing and create the fashion mood-board and then for Hilary and Victoria (who are Celebrate my Library!) to gather it all up so they could produce another of their beautiful books. They discussed six different topics – At Home, Hobbies, Entertainment, Food, Fashion, Days Out and School – then the children drew pictures and wrote about the lives of the buddies when they were young, but I could see it was a learning experience for both groups.

 After that session came a nail-biting break of 6 weeks while Hilary and Victoria pulled all the material together (plus some of their own) to create the book.

On March 1st we met up again for the “great reveal” of the book “written by children at Brompton Library inspired by the stories from the residents of Kensington and Chelsea”. The children were shown the book first and loved seeing their names in print! Then they wrapped it in beautiful wrapping paper to present to the buddies. The children read out their work as a performance while the buddies, parents and friends who had also come along enjoyed tea, coffee, juice and choccy biscuits.

Celebrate My Library
Celebrate My Library

The finished product

Working with Celebrate My Library is always a pleasure. They are passionate about libraries, are wonderfully creative and produce beautiful books but also have an eye for the nitty gritty detail and organisation it takes for the sessions to run smoothly – and all this in their spare time!

 Brompton has one copy of the book but you can browse it here. I’m so proud of our Chatterbooks kids and the volunteers from the Kensington and Chelsea Older Residents Forum who gave up three Saturday afternoons for this.


The Brompton Blog – December 2013

It’s that time of year again… 

Brompton Librarian Steph writes:

It has been a busy month at Brompton library. We have noted a surge in new members and our books seem to be flying off the shelves as the frosty weather convinces borrowers to stock up on reading material for the festive period. Whether you need some ideas for Christmas recipes or fancy browsing through our brand new crime and romantic fiction titles, sports and celebrity biographies or a fantastic selection of new cookery books we have something for everyone. Why not browse some of our stock through the online catalogue

Elisabeth impressed us all by making an Advent calendar which stands in the toddlers’ corner of the Children’s area. As someone who can’t cut a straight line, let alone a circle, I’m in awe of people who can do crafts!

Advent calendar
Advent calendar

 On the first Saturday of each month from 10:30 to 11:30 our story and craft sessions allow young children to participate in reading and small art projects. With just over a week until Christmas, Brompton library has been getting into the spirit with a seasonal craft and story session. Library assistant Rahima and Lisa, our Saturday volunteer, had the kids making lots of Rockin’ Robins! They loved it, and for the tiny tots there are always colouring-in sheets.

 The theme of our monthly craft session was based on a story about a generous robin who gave away his seven vests to keep all the other animals he met warm. This story inspired the children to create their own robin. Using paper plates which were folded in half to create a rocking robin; the children sat around the table, colouring pens poised on paper ready to colour. The choice of colour varied as one child confidently says to the other children, “maybe a thousand years ago, there were multicoloured robins”, so with those words of encouragement the children chose their favourite colours. When the power of imagination lets loose our creativity, the end results are that we produce things that are unique; this was evident in this craft session as there were multicoloured, stripy and flowery rocking robins.

Rockin' robins
Rockin’ robins

 Intergenerational project at Brompton

After the success of Brompton’s collaboration with Celebrate My Library on the “Creepy Library” book I‘m very pleased to be working with them again on a project called “Our Community, Our Stories”. This will bring together young people from our Chatterbooks group and older residents from the Kensington and Chelsea Older Residents Forum to explore the differences between life as a child now and life for a child as it was when our older volunteers were young. The children will then do some creative writing around the conversations they’ve had and this will be brought together in book form, again with everyone’s name in print. To get this going, Celebrate my Library (Hilary and Vicky) and I were an agenda item at the forum’s AGM where we explained the project.

Integenerational volunteers
Intergenerational volunteers

 The happy result was that we signed up at least half a dozen volunteers!

Intergenerational volunteers
Intergenerational volunteers

Mingling with residents over coffee and cakes – it’s a hard life!

Intergenerational volunteers
Intergenerational volunteers

 We will keep you posted in January on how the project is going.

Library Volunteers Event at Kensington Town Hall – Tuesday 26 November

 Volunteers and volunteer mentors met at the Mayor’s Parlour in the Town Hall to recognise and celebrate the wonderful people who help us across our library service. These types of volunteer roles are varied – IT sessions, homework club, summer reading challenge and story-time classes – to name but a few.

 Sue Cornish, our Adult Learning Coordinator,  did a sterling job in organising the whole event whilst two volunteers (Celia and Mark) and I were invited up to say a few words. Mark was one of the first volunteers to join us – his time with us stems from when he turned 40 and realised that he wanted to give something back to the community. Just as inspiring was Celia – like so many of us as a child spent many happy hours in the library and has for three years been helping us with our summer Reading Challenge at Brompton and Chelsea.

In the Mayor's Parlour
In the Mayor’s Parlour

 It was clear from everyone how much of a privilege it is to work with our volunteers and that they too get so much from volunteering their time and effort.

I would like to dedicate our blog to all of our wonderful volunteers: Celia, Jane, Lisa, Raed, Srishti, Megan, Gunjan and Mathilde – we at Brompton all love working with you!