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

Advertisements

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

New community room for hire

We have an excellent new resource at Charing Cross Library: a community room is up and running and open for business. It’s only been open for a just over a month and already it’s been used for library, charitable, cultural and educational events.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, what’s has been happening in our new room? Children in Need have used the space for meetings, events associated with our current British Chinese Armed Forces exhibition, book club meetings, language lessons for adults and children, a language exam by the Confucius Institute, a Margery Allingham Society meeting, a home education parents’ meeting and several Westminster Business Information Points workshops.

So much already, and still loads to come including talks, exhibitions, workshops, events for children and much more. Keep an eye on our website for more information.

The community room is available for hire and its facilities include:

  • The room is 12m x 8m
  • It can accomodate 50 people seated or 70 people standing
  • Tables chairs and other working surfaces are available (table space for 30 people)
  • Projector and screen
  • Kitchen equipment (fridge, sink and small kettle)
  • No refreshments supplied but you are welcome to bring your own tea, coffee, sugar and milk

Please note: the library is not wheelchair accessible.

Cost: £200 per day (see library opening times); £20 non-refundable deposit or  £25 per hour; £10 non-refundable deposit

We welcome any members of the community interested in visiting our new space to take a look and spread the word. For more information and to book the community room, contact Charing Cross Library.

Aitor, Charing Cross Library

The Westminster tooth fairy part 2

Last month, we blogged about a new campaign by our colleagues in Public Health to encourage children to look after their teeth. You can read more about the Westminster tooth  fairy here

Two of our libraries supported the campaign, which is aimed at children aged three to seven, with two fun filled information packed events.  With 35% of five year old children presenting with at least one decayed or missing tooth the need for more information for parents around simple preventative measures is evident.

The children watched a film about the Westminster tooth fairy (available at http://www.westminstertoothfairy.com) showing was supported by a carousel of activities delivered by the dental and oral health teams, colouring pictures of healthy snacks, dressing up as dentists and toothbrushes, and sticking sticky food on the teeth.

Hatty Skinner, our  Children’s Officer delivered an interactive story session at Pimlico Library to children from Pimlico Primary. Library staff, Eric Walker and Simon Williams did a riveting double act with the same Dinosaur Douglas story at Maida Vale Library for the Year 1s from Essendine Primary School.

The children enjoyed the events and we all learned some important facts about looking after our pearly whites.

And if you’d like to know more – check out the resources for parents and carers on the Westminster website.

Kate Gielgud, Health Information Officer