Reading Well in Westminster

Reading Well logoFollowing the Reading Agency launch of the Reading Well Books on Prescription Dementia Collection on Monday 26 January, libraries across the three boroughs gave community and health partners, as well as members of the public, the chance to find out about our Reading Well initiatives, with collection launches at five libraries, starting with Pimlico Library on 30 January.

The Carers’ Network, BME Forum, Migrants Resource Centre, Breathe Easy Support group, and other community and health partners came to Pimlico library for tea and scones to hear about Reading Well in libraries.

Diane Sherlock at the Pimlico Library launch of Reading Well Books on Prescription - Dementia Collection
Diane Sherlock at the Pimlico Library launch of Reading Well Books on Prescription – Dementia Collection

They also listened to a poetry reading by Diane Sherlock, author of ‘Come into the Garden’ – a collection of poems written when caring for her mother who was living with vascular dementia after a stroke. Copies of ‘Come into the Garden’ are available in all libraries in the three boroughs and are being used in our ‘read aloud’ bibliotherapy groups.

Remembering Together artefacts at Paddington LibraryKathryn Gilfoy, from Westminster Arts, brought the display of artefacts created by artists and individuals living with Dementia – as shown in our recent ‘Remembering Together’ post.

There followed launches at North Kensington and Brompton libraries (read more on the RBKC Libraries blog) and at Hammersmith and Fulham libraries (read more on LBHF Libraries). Five different launches in different libraries in the three boroughs, only made possible by joint working with library staff and health and community partners.

Very warm thanks to Sara, Ronnie and Luigi at Pimlico and all colleagues!  Thanks to Diane Sherlock and Nell Dunn who donated their time and to Kathryn and Freya from Westminster Arts. Thanks to the Stroke Association who donate their time and resources to help prevent vascular dementia by preventing stroke.

Libraries are doing their bit for Dementia.  If you would like to join the Dementia Alliance, contact


Remembering Together

Remembering Together artefacts at Paddington Library

Dementia is moving up the public consciousness and society is devoting more resources to dealing with our ageing population, many of whom may develop some form of dementia. Doctors and psychologists are researching ways to support people to live well with dementia and one way is to use the arts to work with people to bring memories alive in the present. This can involve the use of objects and pictures from the past which are meaningful for that person.

Paddington Library recently hosted a display of artwork by a group of artists from a range of arts backgrounds who had been volunteering on the Westminster Arts’ project Remembering Together, which was aimed at people living with dementia and their family carers. After 3 months of getting to know the participants, the artists designed personal items for the people they had worked with most closely, for example a memory cushion covered in photos or a pack of cards for a lady who loved playing bridge each week with a photo taken from her family life or their time together on the project. Some of the participants visited the display, which was shown in the library as a way of raising awareness of the positive impact artwork and the use of personal objects can have on people living with memory loss.

Remembering Together artefacts at Paddington Library“Going out weekly was something to look forward to, to meet new people to talk, engage in social activities, engage in creative activity and role play in an environment that was safe. Time for carers to meet up and talk freely with each other and give or obtain relevant advice. I enjoyed all the sessions as this was quality time spent with my mum in a different social environment and I really enjoyed the singing and creative work.”
– Sandra, carer

[Kathryn and Laurence]

Calligrapher’s corner

Mu Ling visited Victoria Library last week to give a workshop on Chinese calligraphy.

The art of calligraphy - workshop at Victoria Library, February 2014

We started by copying – as young children first learning calligraphy do – the character for people. She elegantly drew the characters for The Year of the Horse, Wind, Earth, Fire and Water, which the group copied. There were nine fascinated attendees.

We have since received this lovely piece of feedback, and will be considering holding similar events in the future.

“My wife and I really enjoyed last night’s free calligraphy session, thanks! Was really relaxed, fun and informative. I will be borrowing some calligraphy books today and my wife bought a brush and some ink from the very good teacher. Look forward to similar events in the future!”


Carriage 353 is on its way

Project 353 at Church Street Library November 2013As part of the ongoing collaboration between Westminster Libraries’ Bengali Service and London Transport Museum’s Project 353, an exhibition was held at Church Street Library to celebrate and showcase the fantastic artwork which participants have created in recent months.

All the original creative pieces of work were amazingly curated for this exhibition which was extremely inspiring for the participants to come back and see being displayed for the public. The exhibition was only at the library for a very short time, but the works will also feature in a larger display at the London Transport Museum itself in 2014.

Project 353 montage - Church Street Library November 2013

In addition, all the pieces have been used as illustrations to create a brand new children’s story book about Carriage 353. The book, entitled ‘The marvellous Adventure of Carriage 353′ has been printed into two different sizes – a giant publication to be used for children’s storytelling sessions at the museum as well as a number of little A5 copies of the glossy books which were presented to the participants along with certificates of achievement.

A Project 353 participant, Church Street Library November 2013     Some of the Project 353 participants, Church Street Library November 2013     A Project 353 participant, Church Street Library November 2013


Creepy Paris or Spooky London?

I posted before about the new ‘twinning’ arrangement between Church Street Library and Bibliotheque Place des Fetes in Paris. We’ve recently held two children’s events as part of the French twinning project.

'Imagine Creepy Paris', Church Street Library, August 2013The first one was ‘Imagine Creepy Paris’, where the children had the choice to draw either the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame church and then decorate them to make them creepy…

Eighteen children took part and created some fantastic works, some of which you can see in the pictures here.

'Imagine Creepy Paris', Church Street Library, August 2013      'Draw your Creepy London', Church Street Library, August 2013

The second one was ‘Draw your Creepy London’. This time the children could draw Big Ben, Tower Bridge or the Tower of London. Big Ben was the most popular, and the children showed some great art skills. This workshop was even more successful and 23 children took part.

'Draw your Creepy London', Church Street Library, August 2013

All the works will be sent to our twin library in Paris and we will receive arts from the children who participated in similar events at Place des Fetes. Keep an eye on the Church Street Library news & events page for details of the exhibition by the Paris children.


Letter from the Queen

You may remember that Maida Vale Library sent a letter to The Queen recently, enclosing all of the pictures drawn by children for a half-term competition.

Winning picture by Halah, aged 9What with all the excitement with the birth of the new Prince George of Cambridge, we were somewhat surprised to receive a reply from Her Majesty so quickly. The letter just appeared on the library desk and we wondered if The Queen had dropped it in person on her way to Scotland! With no sign of a sparkling tiara bobbing above the shelves and no yapping of Corgis being heard, we guessed it must have been another Royal that had delivered it: Royal Mail! Take a look at the reply we received, below…

Don’t forget that Maida Vale Library will be closed from this Saturday, 3 August to Saturday 10 August 2013 inclusive to allow us to move back to the ground floor. We re-open on Monday 12 August and very much look forward to seeing you then – royal, commoner or anything in between!

Letter from the Queen to Maida Vale Library,  23 July 2013


The Tate goes Big and Small at Pimlico Library

Tate 'Big and Small' event at Pimlico Library, July 2013
Our bumper summer of children’s events kicked off on Monday, when the Early Years and Families Team from Tate Britain visited Pimlico Library to entertain the under fives’ group and their grown-ups. These events for pre-school children, called ‘Big and Small’, are designed to encourage interaction between parents/carers and their children, foster imagination and creativity and bring gallery experiences to new audiences.

Tate 'Big and Small' event at Pimlico Library, July 2013
The toddlers had great fun exploring mazes, building structures out of boxes and re-designing the space using pegs to clip the materials into different shapes. Young children enjoyed the different textures of corrugated cardboard, smooth boxes and rustle-y tissue paper.

Tate 'Big and Small' event at Pimlico Library, July 2013If you think this looks like fun, there is another ‘Big and Small’ event on Friday at the Tate.

For more great events in Westminster Libraries, take a look at our Big Calendar, download the leaflet for your local library and sign up for the Creepy House Summer Reading Challenge!


Put yourself on the Queen’s Park map!

Queen’s Park Library is currently hosting an exhibition: ‘The Cultural Heritage of North Paddington’. The exhibition is the result of a Lottery-funded collaboration between Steve Shaw of Paddington Arts, Queen’s Park Primary School and the London Print Studio, and explores the diversity of the area, which is home to more than 100 nationalities, through culture, architecture and food. 

In the project 28 children from Queen’s Park Primary School were asked to share their family history through items of food or objects from their culture, and a selection of them explain the object or food they have chosen and what significance it has for them.

'Where are you from?' world map at Queen's Park Library, July 2013

Viewers of the exhibition are invited to put a sticker on a world map indicating their place of birth, and already they have appeared on the United States, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Spain Sweden, Sudan, Angola, Turkey China and Thailand, among many more.

The exhibition runs until Saturday 27 July.