Cityread London event at the Wallace Collection

Throughout April, Londoners have been celebrating Cityread London by reading 2017’s title ‘Prophesy’ by S.J. Parris, an historical thriller set in 1583 in the middle of Queen Elizabeth I’s  reign. And every April there are some amazing events across the capital connected to the that year’s book.

Last month, some of the St John’s Wood Library customers were lucky enough to attend a special Cityread London event with the Wallace Collection at the Penfold Community Hub. Sarah, a community officer at the Wallace Collection, not only introduced us to their treasures but also brought along replicas and reproductions of the collection’s Elizabethan influences.

We admired a portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who was Elizabeth I’s close friend and favourite – everyone even got a postcard to take away. We also looked closely at a painting by Paul Delaroche titled Hippolyte depicting Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower. The group also got to try on some replica armour. It was widely agreed that armour is not as heavy as it looks and much more comfy to boot.

This snapshot into the wealth and richness of the Wallace Collection was truly inspiring. If you haven’t been before we encourage you to visit soon; it’s an outstanding local asset and free! For more information such as opening hours and you can also view their paintings online at the Wallace Collection website.

[Amy]

Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

mhaw17-main-banner_0Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –

Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’ 

I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.

mental-health

Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions.  Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.

One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and Westminster has a free psychological therapy service, Westminster Talking Therapies.

In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led ‘Share a book’ groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.

lavenderIt is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’  All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.

Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.

There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or log on to the 24/7 library. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?

See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.

Kate Gielgud

Health Information Co-ordinator

 

 

 

 

Free Comic Book Day on Saturday 6 May 2017

Pop in to your local Westminster library on Saturday 6 May for Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day is an international celebration of all things comics – taking place on the first Saturday in May, it is a day where new titles are released, and comic shops giveaway free issues – we are also taking part, courtesy of the grand folks at Forbidden Planet who are providing the comics.

Free Comic Book Day is perfect for both hard-core collector fans and those whose interest has been piqued for the first time.

Enthusiasts of the comic book / graphic novel form will tell of the inventive artwork to stun and amaze – the array of characters, from superhero to regular Joe. The different universes on offer and running plot lines that will be hard to forget.

Explore all this and more at one of our libraries, please ask staff for your free comic book. We have three titles to give out, while stocks last – head on in before missing out.

Discover characters including Wonder Woman, DC superhero girls plus look out for the Forbidden Planet exclusive variant of the Doctor Who title too, featuring the Doctor with new assistant, Bill.

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

[Matthew]

The World Book Night Cycle Tour

wbn17_1

Debra from Queen’s Park Library and Maureen, a regular volunteer, set off from the Library on Saturday loaded up with books to give away for the World Book Night 2017 event .

Unfortunately, in the rush to get to the lunch club at St Peter Elgin Avenue, the actual World Book Night book, ‘Of Mice and Men’ was left behind.

So while Maureen did brisk business giving away the books at the lunch club, Debra whizzed back to the library and picked up a stack of the missing books. This worked out well as several copies were handed over to startled members of the public at bus stops and traffic lights along the length of the Harrow Road.

After the lunch club, bikes were reloaded and Maureen and Debra headed over to the Spring Sale at WECH’s community space for more chatting about books and giving away titles to happy recipients.

Finally, the pair headed back to the library with the few books that were left.

It was a great way to connect with people from the community who do not (yet) use their local library.

 [Debra]

Easter fun at Maida Vale Library

Maida Vale Library hosted several events for children during the Easter holidays. We had an on going Easter egg hunt for pictures of eggs hidden around the library, and a library quiz.

We had two craft events –

During one session, the kids were able to blast off with super rockets which they made from recycled materials.

The following week we had an all day event making pop up Easter cards and Easter bunnies from hot chocolate jars.

A hopping good time was had by the many children who attended…!

We have events in our libraries for all ages, check out our Westminster libraries events page to see what’s coming up.

                            [Simon]

Elephants and Eggs

Elephant of my Heart

The Prospero Theatre group came to Queens Park Library to perform ‘Elephant of My Heart’ in the children’s library. The animal of your heart is your personal inner guide and each person has their own.

This was a wonderfully inventive join-in musical workshop that tells the story of a girl recovering in hospital who is visited by an elephant, the animal of her heart, and a host of other animals.

The children in the audience made rain noises by banging on the floor, danced and played characters in the story.

Here’s what the children had to say afterwards:

‘You will fly, you will ride on an elephant’s head. Most importantly you will enjoy this’
‘So creative and engaging. Everyone loved it’
‘You were very good. 100/100’

After the performance the children were led in a quest to find the animal of their own heart. These included a snake, an elephant, a chimera, a tiger and a chipmunk.

Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Crafts

The children’s library was full of eager egg hunters at our Easter Egg Hunt and Crafts event.

Children had to find three matching tokens hidden around the children’s library to claim their chocolate Easter egg. There were so many egg hunters we had to organise a second hunt.

After the chocolate fun there was a whirlwind of paper, scissors, pens and glue sticks producing lots of lovely decorated eggs and Easter cards.

[Debra]

 

My favourite things

One of the main reasons for starting this blog was that there was so much to tell – as the very first post said: “It’s about the life of the Libraries & Archives”. There are so very many facets to a public library service; I wanted to help bring more of what we can offer into the light.

After eighteen years in Westminster Libraries (a brief interlude in comparison to the tenure of Malcolm and many others, of course), I’ve rounded up a selection of wonderful things and, with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, persuaded my library-fan children to spare you my singing voice.  As I move on to pastures new, one of the things I will miss the most is editing this blog (I look forward to being a reader from now on). It’s been a privilege.

So long, farewell…

[Ali]