Boom! Free Comic Book Day arrives once again…

Free Comic Book Day is an international celebration of all things comics – taking place on the first Saturday in May – tomorrow – it is a day where new titles are released and shops offer a giveaway of free issues – our libraries are taking part, courtesy of those lovely folks at Forbidden Planet

The day is perfect for both collector fanatics and those who are picking up a comic for the first time.

We will also be hosting two special events on the day –

St John’s Wood Library make superhero masks and stick figures, 10.30am to 12pm . This free event is open to children of all ages.

Maida Vale Library – learn how to draw your own cartoon characters, 2.30pm to 4pm. Free event which is suitable for children aged 5 and over.

Queen’s Park Library – create your own mini comic, a superhero (or a super-villain!) and we’ll display the best, 2pm to 4.30pm. This free event is open to children of all ages.

Explore all this and more at one of our libraries and don’t forget to ask staff for your free comic book. We have three titles to give out, while stocks last – head on in before missing out. You’ll discover characters from the DC Universe including Superhero girls, Doctor Who, plus look out for the exclusive DC Nation!

Why not also check out the graphic novel selection? or the new release DVDs available while you are there and see what else your local Westminster  library has to offer?

Matthew

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Cityread London 2018

If you live within the M25 you may have come across Cityread London. If not, then this is your chance to take part in the biggest annual reading event in London, for Londoners and about London. As the organisers put it:

“This is an celebration of literature that brings reading to life for the whole capital in a massive book group”

This event is in its seventh year and for the first time will take place in May, rather than April. Each year, a different author and book are chosen and this time it’s the turn of Jessie Burton and her second novel ‘The Muse’. Many of you may remember her wonderful debut work ‘The Miniaturist’ which was broadcast as a BBC TV drama last Christmas.

We encourage all of you to read this year’s book and take part in the conversation. You may like to join one of our many book groups that are taking part this Spring. You can find details of our groups here

Not only that, May will be packed with events related to the themes of the novel, which are many and topical: live jazz band performance plus talk on the jazz clubs scene of 1960’s Soho, talks on the Spanish civil war, swinging Sixties, the changing role of women, immigration and its impact on the capital, art, food, drink and more.  Take your pick and book your place

And don’t forget to look at the Cityread website for a London wide picture of what is going on this May.

Enjoy.

Salon for the City

As the Salon for the City starts its 6th year at the Westminster Reference Library it feels like a good time to have a bit of a retrospective.

In case you hadn’t already heard, Salon for the City is a series taking a look at London through a different lens on the last Wednesday of each month at the Westminster Reference Library.

The Salon is very popular and regularly attracts 40+ people who brave all sorts of terrible weather conditions to attend (last month’s talk on London transport was beset by a snow storm that ironically shut down vast swathes of London and despite those conditions the Salon was still heaving)

The Salons always sell out and Hendricks lubricate the library each month with a specially prepared cocktail of that most London of liquors: Gin.

The salons usually take the form of two illustrated talks by invited speakers in the fields of history, the arts, business, fashion and culture. The talks are followed by a joint Q+A and conversation. We also have occasional performances, themed interviews and films.

There is time to mingle, converse, browse the amazing collection of the Library in the company of other London lovers.

We started off with this : London at the library

and grew to this :

Salon1

As the 50th Salon took over the entire ground floor with 10 London experts talking about their favourite Londoner.

Salon2

But normally it coexists quite well with normal library business going on around it:

Salon3

If you would like to come along you can book a ticket here.

Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

Soar through the air at Church Street this April!

At Church Street Library, we’re very lucky to have an apprentice, Alex, working with us on a new play-based project called PACS – Play at Church Street. This is a new project made up of fun activities for kids in the library.

As part of this, Alex has organised a Rocket League tournament next month. Over to Alex to tell us more…

On Saturday 14 April from 10am to 5pm, Church Street Library will host a Rocket League tournament that will be part of the London Games Festival Fringe. The Fringe is a series of events across London that will complement the main Festival, happening from 5 to 15 April. The library’s event is unique in that it’s the only tournament on the schedule, and the only one being hosted at a library.

Rocket League  is an exciting mix of football and cars, combining them to create a game with current global player-base of over 40 million players and rising. Just like football, two teams try to score more goals than their opponents; but the cars are able to soar through the air, drive on (and jump off) the arena walls, and boost to breakneck speeds, all trying to get that ball in the back of the net. It’s a lot of fun even for those who don’t usually like football!

The Church Street tournament will be a 2v2 team event for kids aged 9 to 16, and will be played on PlayStation 4 consoles. 16 places (8 teams) are available, and if you (or your kids) want to play then be sure to book today at the library front desk, by phone on 020 7641 6200, or by emailing churchstreetlibrary@westminster.gov.uk

We plan to do more PS4 events at Church Street over the coming months, so be sure to keep an eye out for those!

Alex, Church Street Library

Sylvia and Silvio in Charing Cross

Silvio Corio and Sylvia Pankhurst

A free exhibition about Sylvia Pankhurst and Silvio Corio, frontrunners in the campaign for women’s vote and against fascism, opened at Charing Cross Library on Friday. Over to Aitor, the library’s manager to tell us about the opening night –

With the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 being in the news and Sylvia Pankhurst’s name in the exhibition title, a good number of people were expected to attend the opening of Sylvia and Silvio but as nearly 100 came, packing the newly refurbished basement room, one wonders how many came to find out a bit more about “Silvio”. Who was the mysterious man who met the famous suffragette in 1917 – the start of an intriguing relationship that lasted till he died in 1954?

Alfio Bernabei

Alfio Bernabei, author, historian and journalist curated the exhibition and talked us through the turbulent years at the turn of the last century when about 300 Italian political refugees arrived in London seeking primarily freedom of speech. Some became involved in launching journals, setting up study centres and cultural associations. One of them, Silvio Corio, a talented anarchist typographer from Turin, soon mastered the language and started to work as a journalist and commentator writing about human rights, utopian ideas, social and political issues.

When he met Sylvia Pankhurst, already well-known for her militancy as a suffragette, she was the Editor of Workers’ Dreadnought. It was a meeting of minds that led them, two years later, to travel to Italy to meet Antonio Gramsci who was at the head of a workers movement called Ordine Nuovo. An Italian Sylvia was born. Back in London, always in the company of Silvio’s Italian friends, she was the first well known person in Britain to ring the alarm about Mussolini’s blackshirts. It was the start of an anti-fascist campaign that lasted throughout her life, always with Silvio as an active ally and contributor at her side.

The old billiard room!

Bernabei surprised many in the audience when he told them they were sitting in what used to be the billiard room of the building bought by the Italian fascist party in London in 1936 and how the exhibition in what is today a place of learning felt like an act of symbolical cultural re-appropriation. He then introduced “a special guest”. There was an audible gasp in the audience when Helen Pankhurst, granddaughter of Sylvia and Silvio, rose to speak. Then it was Megan Dobney’s turn to give an update on the statue of Sylvia Pankhurst due to be installed later this year in Clerkenwell Green.

Helen Pankhurst, Megan Dobney and Alfio Bernabei

The exhibition covering the anti-fascist campaigns carried out by Pankhurst and Corio in the 1920s and 1930s will run until 13 May. Caroline Moorehead, the author of the recent book A Bold and Dangerous Family covering the same period as lived by the family that lost two of its members – the Rosselli brothers – killed by the fascists, will give a talk on 26 April at 6.30pm. More info about that on our website 

Aitor, Charing Cross Library

Make money, save money and stay competitive in 2018!

Next month, David Taylor, Digital Management Consultant, will be at Church Street Library running a free workshop about how to navigate today’s digital marketplace. Over to David to tell us more…

Like it or not we are in a predominantly digital age. Technology has moved so fast that it is affecting almost every part of our lives. Social media, data security, virtual reality, Blockchain, artificial intelligence, Big Data – the list goes on.

Unfortunately, many small businesses – indeed a large amount of organisations both large and small – are woefully unprepared to meet the challenges of this new landscape.

A report out last year by Lloyds found that 1.6 million small business lack even basic digital skills. That’s thousands of businesses who are potentially at risk of going bust or at the very least, not being able to compete.

However, no one should be surprised by this. Most human beings don’t like change – including business owners – especially when it is as potentially life-changing as the one we’re all experiencing as a result of technological advances.

Doing nothing is really not an option though and hoping that tried and trusted methods of marketing, sales, HR, IT etc. will somehow carry on working is a fantasy.

The key thing is to have a proper digital strategy for your business. One which takes into account the changing business landscape and helps you plan for the future, as best you can.

At a free event at 6pm on Wednesday 11 April, held at Westminster’s Church Street Library, I will be talking about how you can take advantage of this new digital world, reach out to today’s tech-savvy customers and ultimately future-proof your business.

As well as speaking inside the library, we will also be live streaming the event as a simulcast via the Westminster Business Information Point Facebook page and via my Twitter account – links below

The 45-minute talk can be distilled down to doing three things really well:

Innovating – small businesses should be looking to disrupt, challenge and find new ways of reaching out to customers. Don’t just wait for all your rivals to gain competitive advantage over you because you are too scared of ‘doing something different’!

Educating – nothing stands still and the pace of change is actually speeding up. So it is vital that you constantly upskill, learn new ways of doing business and bring in bright people to work around you. There is no excuse for failing to learn new skills. Never before have we had so many free resources at our fingertips.

Relating – business is all about your customer. Who are they, where are they, what do they want and how can you reach them in the most efficient manner possible. This is particularly true in today’s multi-channel, digitally powered world. So it’s vital that you strive to relate to your customers, employees, suppliers and advocates.

I look forward to seeing you on 11th!

David Taylor

Sign up to attend in person here 

Watch on Facebook Live here

Watch on Twitter here

Art book of the month, March 2018

After a little break, due to the refurb at Westminster Reference Library, ‘Art book of the month’ is back. Over to Nick…

As befits our recent reopening of our ground floor this month (the first floor is due to open up in April so art books won’t be available until then), why not have a thought about what art actually is with ‘A New Dictionary of Art’ edited by Robert Good.

This is an interesting take on the question of ‘What is art?’ which presents over 3000 definitions of art compiled from both established sources and the internet.

These range from the straightforward –

To the bizarre

To the formal

There’s a vulgar definition too, but it’s a bit cheeky for our blog. One of the joys about this books is how the work itself is very much a work of art!

Nick
Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

PS previous art book of the month posts: November 2017, October 2017 and September 2017