Fun times at Maida Vale Library!

We’ve been busy at Maida Vale Library –

We hosted a couple of activities to amuse the local children during the half term break.  On  the Tuesday we had a monster mouth event to highlight with National Smile Month, all about dental hygiene. After a story about a dinosaur who eats too many sweets and ends up at the dentists, we made some lovely colourful monster hand puppets from felt.

On the Thursday we had a dinosaur drawing workshop  – there were some very weird and scary results.

About 50 children plus their parents, turned up to the events. Thanks to Mina, our agency worker and our volunteer, Susan for all their help with the events.

And this we had a very lively under 5s event where we celebrated National Bookstart Week – everyone got copies of ‘Everybunny Dance’ by Ellie Sandall.

We read some bunny stories – “Where’s Peter Rabbit?”, and “Guess how much I love you” and the rhyme “Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose” and of course we played sleeping bunnies. After some major bunny hopping, the children made some bunny ears after colouring them in.

Don’t worry if you missed out, we have lots of events in our libraries for all ages, hope to see you soon.


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.


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.



A brilliant half term

Maida Vale Library hosted several lively craft sessions during the half term week last week. All week we had a hunt for children’s book characters which were hidden all over the library.

Half term mask making at Maida Vale Library, February 2017

On Monday we had two sessions of mask making with some lovely animal masks.

Half term mask making at Maida Vale Library, February 2017

On Wednesday it was time for Rubbish Robots which was very popular at both sessions with some fantastic results.

Half term crafts at Maida Vale Library, February 2017   Half term crafts at Maida Vale Library, February 2017

On Thursday the children made their own Snakes and Ladders games and also we had a session with the badge making machine.

A good time was had by all!


Art for Everyone’s Sake

Art books collage 1

Westminster Reference Library, home of the specialist Art & Design Collection, now has art books for loan. Visit us at 35 St Martin’s Street and browse through our growing collection of inclusive, engaging and expertly written books on a wide range of art interests. The publications shown here are just some of our most recent additions:

Hieronymus Bosch; The Complete WorksHieronymus Bosch; The Complete Works combines new research with superb reproductions to celebrate this unique and visionary painter. His fantasies, grotesques and drolleries, set in natural surroundings, appear as fresh and eloquent today as they were 500 years ago.

Menswear illustration, by Richard KilroyFashion students! The explosion of international sales in menswear means that drawing is no longer dominated by women’s fashions. Menswear Illustration is the first survey of this new trend and features 40 innovative illustrators of contemporary styles in menswear.

Natural histories: extraordinary rare book selections from the American Museum of Natural History library, by Tom BaioneNatural Histories presents selected masterpieces of scientific art from 16th century zoologies to 20th century treatises. Essays by experts in their field explain how these scientifically significant, richly illustrated studies played integral roles throughout the history of natural sciences.

The Craft Companion by Ramona BarryBeautiful or bonkers The Craft Companion offers 170 projects to learn 33 crafting techniques, with inspiration from 150 contemporary artists. Try working with traditional materials (wood, leather, gold leaf) or turn to page 378 and make a recycled Terrarium for your plastic dinosaurs.

Art photography, by David BateArt Photography provides a fascinating introduction to the crucial role of painting in the invention of photography, and the importance of photography in the development of modern art. Visual examples from the 19th – 21st centuries illustrate how global this field of art has become.

Bernard Leach by Edmund De WaalBernard Leach is the first biography and critical monograph of this renowned 20th century potter whose ceramics, writings and teaching hold a central place in the international history of the decorative arts.


Making sculpture from scrap metal by Peter ParkinsonMetal workers have recycled broken tools and other scrap since the Bronze Age, but only in the 20th century did artists start using such items to make sculpture. Making Sculpture from Scrap Metal puts this artistic practice into context, describes the concerns and techniques involved, and illustrates these with the work of contemporary sculptors.

Looking at pictures: an introduction to art for young people through the National Gallery collection, by Joy RichardsonWhat are paintings for? This and other topics including colour, light, symbols and techniques are discussed in Looking at Pictures, the National Gallery’s excellent introduction to art for young people. Don’t let this put you off: it’s an illuminating mini-history of European painting.

Contemporary design Africa by Tapiwa MatsindeContemporary Design Africa is the first book on the innovative and sophisticated uses of traditional crafts taking place across the continent.   Over the past 100 years communities have used manufactured “rubbish” to make footwear, household goods, even toys. This practice, alongside the cultural use of natural materials, is an inspiration for any designer.

Alfred Wallis by Matthew GaleAlfred Wallis fisherman and marine stores dealer, is now recognised as one of the most original British artists of the 20th century. In the light of new research, this book traces the development of his painting from when he started 1925, until his death in 1942 at the age of 87.

If you want to borrow these or other art books, bring in your membership card; or bring proof of your home address and join the library for free. We are off the south side of Leicester Square, behind the main wing of the National Gallery. For more information, contact the library.

Art books collage 2


In June, somebody celebrated their second birthday of the year…

Maida Vale Library pulled out all the stops for its week of free celebrations to commemorate The Queen’s Official 90th birthday on 11 June 2016. Like The Mall itself, the library was be-decked in patriotic red, white and blue Union Flag bunting.

Crown making craft activity for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016 Crown making craft activity for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016
The 'Crown Jewels' on display for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The celebrations kicked off on the Monday with the first of four craft drop-in sessions. The families who came along made some wonderfully designed crowns which sparkled in the sunlight as they left the building. One little boy was particularly pleased to be able to make another crown, having already made one recently at school for The Queen.

“It’s great that the library does theses craft and art events as they don’t do much art stuff at school nowadays.”

Making Buckingham Palace for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

On the Tuesday, families made 3D models of Buckingham Palace out of recycled junk and on the Wednesday a wonderful collage of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee’s Thames Flotilla of boats was recreated and is now proudly on display in the children’s library.

“My kid really loved this event as he’s mad on boats.”

Remembering the Jubilee Flotilla for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The first big event of the week took place on the Wednesday with our under 5s’ Royal Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Blankets were laid out on the floor and the toddlers and their teddies were treated to music, songs and rhymes along with healthy food and drink. Staff took the opportunity to talk to carers about library partners such as MEND who will be working with us over the summer providing free weekly sessions. They also promoted upcoming library health events specifically aimed at young children, such as Dinosaur Douglas who made an appearance the following week as part of National Smile Week.

“Fabulous event for kids and nannies! I’ve enjoyed it as much as the kids.”

Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016 Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The Thursday saw a multitude of different designs created for cards and badges fit for The Queen. We also had two more major events for the over 5s: a red, white and blue themed Indoor Street Party with children’s entertainment which took place on the Friday, followed by a visit from Zoo Lab on Saturday who brought along some of The Queen’s smaller beasts to the library.

Our partner Imagethirst was on hand to offer a free photo to children (or adults for that matter!) at the party with our special guest of honour…

Portrait with 'The Queen' at Maida Vale Library, June 2016

All in all nearly 300 people turned up at the various events and activities which took place over the week. We were particularly pleased that we were able to showcase the best of British to some new arrivals who have settled in Westminster and made it their home.

None of these events could have been possible without the ward funding provided by Little Venice, Maida Vale and Westbourne wards. Staff and volunteers worked as a team to make so many events happen in such a short period of time and I must thank each and every one of them for all their hard work.

“The staff here are brilliant and so helpful, they always have so many interesting ideas.”


Which came first? The egg

Egg-cellent Easter activities at Queen's Park Library, March 2016Easter came early to Queen’s Park Library as local children enjoyed seasonal activities on Thursday 17 March. First there was egg decoration (the polystyrene variety, not the real thing), during which the kids were encouraged to be as creative as possible and come up with their own designs. They had some brilliant ideas – as well as the more traditional rabbits we had a very colourful Easter peacock and a couple of aliens.

The children were an incredibly well-behaved bunch and even helped pack up! The promise of a chocolate egg hunt once the craft materials were tidied away was definitely a good incentive.

On Saturday 19 March, Westminster’s Family Learning Service continued the theme with their Easter Eggstravaganza. Parents and children worked together to make detailed 3D chickens and eggs. One participant, Maryam, was particularly impressed with her creation and commented:

“I really liked it today because of how I made the chicken. It was stunning. I couldn’t believe my eyes!”

We’ve got lots more free children’s activities on offer during the Easter holidays, including a family film, April Fool’s crafts and jokes and a gaming afternoon. See you there!


Beatrix Potter for World Book Day

For World Book Day last week Maida Vale Library dedicated an event to Beatrix Potter, as this year is the 150th anniversary of her birth.

Beatrix Potter mural - World Book Day 2016 at Maida Vale Library

Jemima Puddleduck - World Book Day 2016 at Maida Vale LibraryA local fashion designer donated wool and pattern card and we developed a craft project for the day. About 25 local children and parents came in and used the wool and other materials to decorate stencils of some of Potter’s most famous characters such as Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, Tom Kitten, Mrs Tiggywinkle and others. These were then mounted on the card and a Potter-like background drawn.

Peter Rabbit - World Book Day 2016 at Maida Vale LibraryThe event was a great success and the lovely mural is now proudly displayed in the Children’s Library at Maida Vale.

Do drop in and have a look in the next couple of weeks.