Le Labyrinthe Mythique!

Anansi & Garuda - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading AgencyThis year, for the first time ever, the Summer Reading Challenge is being exported abroad. Destination: Place des Fetes library, Paris – Church Street Library’s ‘twin’!

Children will be able to participate in this exciting adventure and will receive – as the children in England do – stickers, posters, gifts and certificates. For the first time in France, librarians will be running a book challenge and discovering what we organise here in libraries every summer.

Minotaur - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading AgencyThe Mythical Maze / Le Labyrinthe Mystique will be another opportunity to exchange information about work practice, help adults and children find out more about another country, encourage them to learn a foreign language etc. Indeed, selections of books in English in Place des Fetes and books in French in Church Street Library are now available for customers from both libraries.

Yeti - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading AgencyPlace des Fetes will also organise events for children about Legends and Monsters and will exchange artworks with Church Street Library’s children throughout the summer. Again, works will be displayed in both libraries and we hope to post some here on the blog.

In September, a ceremony will be held at Place des Fetes and every child who has read 6 books will receive their certificate. We will post photos of the event and Julie will be there as well to represent Westminster. We wish Place des Fetes all the best in this British and mythical new adventure!

[Julie]

Mythical Maze - the Summer Reading Challenge 2014

Still gathering no moss


In a recent post we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles film and album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in 1964. This album displaced the Rolling Stones first album in July after a reign of 12 weeks at the number one spot in the charts. With this the Beatles regained the top spot and the chart rivalry between the two bands was underway. As someone who (just) remembers that rivalry, I’m posting this complementary blog as a gesture of even-handedness!

The Rolling Stones’ album cover design is interesting as it features Nicholas Wright’s moody photograph of the band; and with the exception of the Decca logo, no title or identification information. The band was suitably confident in their brand recognition that the image alone was enough to promote the record. London Records, Decca’s American label, were not so confident of this approach so clumsily added the phrase “England’s Newest Hit Makers” across the front cover.

The album was recorded in the Regent’s Sound Studios, Denmark Street in about ten days. Keith Richards said in an interview

“We did our early records on a 2-track Revox in a room insulated with egg cartons at Regent Sound. It was like a little demo in Tin Pan Alley, as it used to be called. Denmark Street in Soho.”

The Rolling Stones weren’t the only band to make use of Regent Sound Studio. Through the 60s and 70s it played host to many other bands and artists including The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Mott the Hoople, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan and Black Sabbath who recorded the iconic single and album “Paranoid” .

Life, by Keith RichardsWestminster Libraries hold a number of books, recordings and DVDs by and relating to the Stones, such as Keith Richards’ autobiography Life.

Anyone wanting to find out more about the Stones in contemporary context would do well to explore our newspaper archives. You will need your library membership card number for free access.

It is clear that many adults feared the rise of the Rolling Stones, and as with the punk revolution ten years later, a moral panic ensued with fears of the collapse of civilisation. This prompted the famous quotation “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?” asked by a Canadian broadcaster after he witnessed the teen hysteria and Mick Jagger’s onstage performance in 1965.
From The Times Digital Archive (log in with your library card), the following two reports give a flavour of this feeling: ‘No Lessons For Boys With Long Hair’ (19 April 1965, page 5): three boys from an Aylesbury secondary school were made to sit in the school dining room away from other pupils classes as they had refused to cut their hair until Mick Jagger did. More seriously, ‘Youth Killed Himself After Haircut” (12 February, 1966, page 6): The boy’s uncle and guardian had forced the boy to a barber after he had grown his hair long in imitation of the Rolling Stones.

Some of the most intense newspaper coverage came in 1967 with the famous drugs bust. Events began with a police raid on Keith Richards’ house Redlands in February following a tip off (probably by The News of the World) that there were drugs on the premises. It was left to the News of the World to titillate and horrify its readers with a full account of the raid. Other details only emerged from the separate trials of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The Times straying into tabloid territory gave a full account under the heading ‘Young woman “wearing only fur rug” at guitarist’s party’ (Times 29 June 1967, page 2).

There were many protests at the harsh sentences including from The Times’ editor William Rees-Mogg, under the now famous headline ‘Who Breaks A Butterfly On A Wheel?’ (Times, 1 July 1967, page 11). In it he argued that

“there must remain a suspicion in this case that Mr Jagger received a more severe sentence than would be thought proper for any purely anonymous young man.”

Finally on the 31st July the Appeals Court overturned Keith Richards’ conviction and Mick Jagger’s sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge. Probably in gratitude to the newspaper’s intervention, Mick Jagger gave an exclusive interview in the next day’s issue: ‘Mr Mick Jagger speaks his mind’ (Times, 1 August 1967, page 8).

You can find all the above articles and more on the Times Digital Archive, by date or by simply searching for ‘The Rolling Stones’.

[Francis]

Six Books is just the start…

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014.

It’s been a most successful year for the 6 Book Challenge in South Westminster. We had 204 participants entering across Charing Cross, Victoria and Pimlico Libraries, and over a quarter of the participants completed the Challenge.

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Tham Kong Cheong read 24 books

Tham Kong Cheong read 24 books

This high participation rate led to the Reading Agency awarding Westminster Libraries ‘Public Library Authority of the Year’.

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014

Peter collected a certificate for WAES as “Institution of the Year” with 99 participants.

As with any success, it was not done alone. A variety of institutions delivered the 2014 Challenge. These included:

  • Westminster Kingsway College
  • Cardinal Hume Centre
  • Westminster Adult Education Service
  • Migrants Resource Centre
  • Chinese Community Cultural Centre 
Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Luigi presenting Justo Pastuna Tipan with his award

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Luigi presenting Justo Pastuna Tipan with his award

A Big Thank You to all the Tutors  especially Rachel Applegate, Peter Warren, Ruth Lenard, Matthew Edwards, Carmen Castro and Deborah Bell.

Westminster Kingsway College are enthusiastic supporters each year of the Challenge.  This year they enrolled 97 students which resulted in Karin Klotz being awarded “Coordinator of the Year 2014”. 

Special guest Davina Elliott praised everyone on their efforts during the Challenge.

Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Kingsway student Elena-Ramona Potoroaca receives her award from Guest of Honour Davina Elliott

Kingsway student Elena-Ramona Potoroaca receives her award from Guest of Honour Davina Elliott

To deliver the Challenge we need the help and support of various institutions and companies. So we would like to thank:

  • The Reading Agency for all the materials
  • Our Guest of Honour, writer Davina Elliott
  • Librarians Malcolm Batten and Nicholas Alexander at Charing Cross and Victoria libraries respectively.
  • Random House for providing the prizes again for this Year’s celebration event.
  • Particular thanks to Kate Gunning for helping throughout the project
Six Book Challenge, Westminster 2014. Jennifer and Maria from Ruth Lennard’s WAES group, with Davina Elliott

Jennifer and Maria from Ruth Lennard’s WAES group, with Davina Elliott

Finally, thank you and well done to all the participants in the 6 Book Challenge 2014. None of this would be possible without you – keep reading and see you in 2015!

[Luigi]

For more information about the 6 Book Challenge, see the Reading Agency website.

Are you ready to enter the Mythical Maze?

Nessy and chums - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading AgencyYes, it’s that time of year again – the school summer holidays are starting and libraries all over the country are stepping up to provide fun and amusement for children at the same time as working to avoid the common ‘reading slump’ that can take place over the long break.

This year’s theme is the Mythical Maze, and there are lots of ways to join in online too – visit the Summer Reading Challenge website for games, book suggestions, writing challenges and videos from authors.

Here in Westminster we’re well known for – and proud of – going completely over the top with events for kids to back up the fun of reading and taking part in the Challenge. There are over 140 events across our libraries this summer – some for the little ones, some for older kids, and some for  all ages. There are themed craft sessions galore, comedy magic shows, puppets, music and dancing, visits from Zoo Lab and more – download the leaflet for your local library below.

The rules are the same as usual:
Medusa - copyright Sarah McIntyre for The Reading AgencySign up at the beginning of the holidays, borrow books, read them, and come in after each couple of books and tell us all about them!
You’ll get stickers along the way and if you read six or more books over the summer you get a medal :-).

So, don’t delay – come along to the library and enter the Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge!

Library Events leaflet – click to download
Charing Cross Library 6 events
21 July – 11 September
Church Street Library 13 events
29 July – 27 August
Maida Vale Library 15 events
25 July – 29 August
Marylebone Library 15 events
22 July – 28 August
Mayfair Library 10 events
8 July – 23 September
Paddington Library 19 events
23 July – 28 August
Pimlico Library 13 events
21 July – 27 August
Queen’s Park Library 17 events
25 July – 29 August
St John’s Wood Library 20 events
23 July – 28 August
Victoria Library 14 events
21 July – 28 August

Mythical Maze - the Summer Reading Challenge 2014

Why bother with botanical Latin?

The Marylebone Gardener ponders…

Like many gardeners I am frequently irritated and bamboozled by plants’ botanical Latin names. Often difficult to pronounce and a nightmare for those of us with poor spelling skills, eg: Zygopyllum prismatothecum… Why are we stuck with botanical Latin? The simple answer is that the Latin botanical name is universally recognised and identifiable. Sticking to common names can cause confusion. Recently a library colleague asked me what a certain purple flowering plant was in the staff garden. On replying, “It’s a (hardy) geranium”, they said, “I thought they had red flowers” – referring to the pelargonium family.

Geranium pratense (Meadow Cranesbill) at Camley Street Natural Park, Kings Cross

Geranium pratense (Meadow Cranesbill) at Camley Street Natural Park, Kings Cross

Pig amongst the Pelargoniums (Marylebone Library staff garden)

Pig amongst the Pelargoniums (Marylebone Library staff garden)

Likewise there is common confusion over the name bluebell. Referred to in the Scottish folk song:

“Oh where, tell me where
Did your Highland laddie dwell?
He dwelt in bonnie Scotland,
Where blooms the sweet blue bell”

This refers to Campanula rotundifolia, commonly known as the harebell, rather than the ‘English’ bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta.

Flora Britannica, by Richard MabeyHere the plant’s common name is restricted to two, but other plants within Britain have many more local names. Sixteen names have been recorded for the dandelion, including lion’s-tooth, puffball, fairy clock and pissabed! When you consider that many plants can be found growing across continents, the use of local names just doesn’t work for identification purposes. It’s fascinating from a cultural / historical viewpoint though, and Richard Mabey’s extraordinary Flora Britannica is a mine of curious information.

Latin names are often long due to the fact that they are frequently portmanteau words made up of descriptive elements within it. So returning to the hare bell the Latin name Campanula = bell-like (flower) and rotundifolia = round foliage. These descriptive elements occur in many botanical names and so are useful clues to the plant’s appearance such as colour, leaf shape or growing habit.

You may be aware of the name Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) the Swedish botanist who brought order to previous attempts to classify plants by dividing 7,700 species into 109 genera each one having an unique botanical name. In spite of being born and dying in Sweden, Linnaeus spent a significant part of his active life in England so warrants an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. His entry can be consulted either online using the Westminster Libraries 24/7 electronic resources or in the printed version held within the Marylebone Information Service or Westminster Reference Library collections.

An entertaining history of Linnaeus and his predecessors attempts to bring order to the plant world can be read in Anna Pavord’s book The Naming of Names.  Westminster Libraries also stock several lending and reference guides to botanical Latin to aid the puzzled gardener:

The Naming of Names, by Anna Pavord   The Names of Plants, by D Gledhill   RHS Latin for Gardeners

We also stock Geoffrey Grigson’s Dictionary of English Plant Names, and Some Products of Plants. Please note that this reference book is currently held in a library store so it must be ordered in advance from Marylebone Information Service – but we’d be very pleased to bring it out into the light of day!

[Francis]

 

It’s been A Hard Day’s Night


“It was twenty years ago today; Sgt Pepper taught the band to play”

Surely some mistake, as this Sunday, 6 July, is the 50th (50th!) anniversary of the release of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, the first Beatles film and sound track album. Sgt Pepper therefore must have been in action several years earlier than this 1967 lyric suggests.

July 1964 and I was six years old. I suppose I could claim a deprived childhood as no one took me to the cinema so see the film on its release. However even at this young age, Beatlemania had struck in the primary school playground. I distinctly remember a year earlier singing, “She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah”. Whilst I subsequently became more of a Rolling Stones fan, the title song’s initial chord still makes me smile, just for the audacity in a pop world of saccharine tunes, to startle the listener with a loud dissonant chord followed by a helter skelter of a melody.

If you wish to see what the fuss was about why not borrow the CD or DVD of the film from Westminster Libraries? If the film appeals to you, you may also be interested in the following two reference books:

Pop Music in British Cinema by KJ DonnellyPop music in British cinema: a chronicle, by KJ Donnelly

A systematic guide to where and how pop music appears in British cinema. It references British feature films using pop music from the 1950s to the end of the 20th century. There are listings of “band” movies, such as The Beatles’ “A Hard Days Night”, and indexes to musicians, directors and films.

Movies of the 60s, by Jurgen MullerMovies of the 60s, by Jurgen Muller

“A Hard Day’s Night” entry follows “Movies of the …” series standard format. This includes a film synopsis, picture stills and production photos, listings of cast & crew together with biographies of the actors and of the director Richard Lester.

[Francis]

Good Morning England: Journée Anglaise

Books on display at 'English Day' - Place des Fetes library, Paris, May 2014

Absolute Beginners performs English songs for 'English Day' - Place des Fetes library, Paris, May 2014Church Street Library’s French ‘twin’, Place des Fetes Library in Paris held an ‘English Day’ in late May. They offered tea and cakes all day to their customers. Absolute Beginners performed a live concert of English pop and rock hits, there were displays of books in English and about England all around the library, plus quizzes and games for children.

The event was a success and an opportunity to talk about the twinning project and Church Street Library.

Cakes for 'English Day' - Place des Fetes library, Paris, May 2014

A reciprocal event – a French Day – will take place at Church Street Library on 14 July. Customers will be able to hear French music, taste some French cakes and cheeses, participate in quizzes, look at book and photography displays and take some French recipes home. We look forward to seeing you there!

[Julie]