Posts by Guest blog writer

Joseph Coehlo's Library Marathon

Posted Friday 30 August 2019 by Guest blog writer in Latest Libraries News

Poet and author Joseph Coelho called in to Blackburn Central Library this week, as part of his national Library Marathon. On Saturday 24 August he joined the library, chatted to staff, and donated two books. Plus he posed for a photograph with the library’s other special guest Marshall the puppy, part of the Brickburn Paw Patrol trail around the town centre!

As part of his Library Marathon Joseph is physically visiting a library in each authority to join and receive his library card. He’s plotting his progress on a giant library marathon map on his website, tweeting and blogging his journey around the UK.

Joseph has long been a passionate and vociferous supporter of libraries in the UK. His debut picture book, Luna Loves Library Day, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers and published by Andersen Press, celebrates his love for libraries and his own childhood spent in libraries. 

The Library Marathon is undertaken with the support of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals) and Libraries Connected. 

Oldham libraries celebrate over one million visitors

Posted Friday 30 August 2019 by Guest blog writer

Oldham Council Libraries Service is celebrating after it was revealed more than one million visitors walked through their doors between 2018 and 2019. Oldham Libraries is also the second most visited library service in Greater Manchester and the sixth busiest service across the North West region out of 24 other Library Services.

All 12 libraries across the borough offer health, learning and business resources, family and cultural activities, and signposting to partner services that aim to benefit the whole town.

Oldham Libraries staff

Plus a range of services and activities, including reading groups, author events, sensory story times, craft workshops, digital activities, cultural events through our live@thelibrary programme and inspiring events such as TEDxOldham and Fun Palaces.

Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet Member for Economy and Enterprise, Councillor Sean Fielding, said: “These figures just go to show how much our libraries are valued across the borough and we’re delighted residents get so much out of the service. “To get more than one million people through the doors is such an achievement, especially when there’s around 220,000 people living in the borough. On top of the thousands of books on offer, there’s also a top-class events programme to suit everyone including families, children, entrepreneurs, and book lovers. I’m proud of our libraries team as they’re forever looking to improve the service by being more flexible, accessible, easier to use and creating a more inclusive environment for everyone.“

To further increase both visitor numbers and literacy levels among young people we abolished library fines on all books at a Cabinet meeting on Monday 22 July. This means that library users will no longer be fined for late returns on borrowed books.

The library will be welcoming a new building in the winter of 2021 when OMA launches. The new heritage and arts centre for Oldham (OMA), will transform Oldham’s former Library, Museum and Art Gallery into a vibrant multi-use cultural complex on Union Street. OMA will feature ambitious new displays of our collections and provide a new home for Oldham Archives and Local Studies Library. The new building will include a performance space, a new café and a bigger and better shop. This work has been made possible thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and local philanthropist Sir Norman Stoller.

To find out more about the exciting new activities taking place in Oldham Libraries just sign up to our monthly Love Libraries email. This can be done in your local library, or online on the library website.

Books and libraries sing to me

Posted Wednesday 25 April 2018 by Guest blog writer in Author blogs, Opinion

"That Poetry Bloke" Craig Bradley got in touch and so we naturally asked him to write something about reading and libraries. Here's what he said...

I have always been a reader. I can't remember learning how to read. Those little lines, loops and squiggles, that we call words, just made sense to me. Deep inside. They just clicked. I was very lucky.Numbers didn't though. Far from it. Despite my mum paying for extra maths lessons, I was well into my teens before timetables and long division sang to me. Even now their song is a bit out of tune. But books, they sang to me from the start. And they are still singing.

"books, they sang to me from the start. And they are still singing."

Craig BradleySo you can imagine what i thought of my local library. It was on the council estate where we lived. From the outside it was a gloomy drab, ugly, concrete building at the end of a row of run-down shops.  But when my Nan took my sisters and me inside, it was like walking into another world. A crazy, beautiful, slightly bonkers, endlessly fascinating world of ideas, imagination, language and stories.

They were books everywhere. We had a few at home- granddads encyclopedias and such - but nothing like this. This was on another scale. They were rows and rows and shelves and shelves of the things. Therer were so many books that they were piled up on the windowsills and tables.To me, it was like every book in the world was in this room. And the best thing was i could take one home. In fact, the lady who gave me my little pink "Childrens Borrower" library ticket said I could take up to seven books home. Now! Today! Seven actual books! I could read one a day for the next week. 

"That little grubby concrete building was a real, living and breathing Aladdin's cave"

Craig Bradley BrusselsAnd that's what i did. I read and read. I wasn't fussy - made up stories, true stories, old stories, new stories- you name it, i'd read it. Libraries opened up a whole new world to me. It was magic. No other word for it. That little grubby concrete building was a real, living and breathing Aladdin's cave, (Aladdin being one of the very stories i read by the way). By giving me access to loads of books, it gave me access to loads more people and the stories that they told, about their lives and the world that they lived in. I couldn't tell the time or do my timetables but I could read stories and, in doing so, became aware of another world beyond the council estate I lived in. I also read about other people who couldn't tell the time and felt like i wasn't on my own. Libraries did that and i thank them for it.

And you know what, they still do.

Craig Bradley is freelance writer, poet ad performer and has spread his love of reading through class and library visits. His website is here.

The Power of Words: St Helens Libraries and Holocaust Memorial Day

Posted Tuesday 6 February 2018 by Guest blog writer in Latest Libraries News

Most library services have an exhibition or a talk or two to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day but St Helens went several steps further this year. In this piece, Amanda Brown takes us through their impressive events ...

"Each January, St Helens Library Service commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day. This year’s theme ‘The Power of Words’ prompted us to create displays featuring related book stock, and also influenced a range of activities which were delivered across our libraries.

David Scott

David Scott HMDTo launch the Holocaust commemorations, Manchester poet David Scott, also known as ‘Argh Kid’, visited Parr Library to deliver poetry workshops to both primary and secondary pupils. David led two workshops that involved a re-understanding of what poetry is, by showing pupils different examples of poetry in a modern day landscape. This was then followed by the analysis of Holocaust poems, discussing imagery, language sound and rhythm.

Class visits

The theme ‘The Power of Words’ inspired a class visit offer to local schools, based on the powerful memoir ‘Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank. Over 350 Year 6 pupils visited their local library to learn about the Nazi attempt to annihilate all of Europe’s Jews using propaganda and persecution. The first part of the session focused on how it felt to be a Jewish child and be denied basic human rights such as riding a bicycle, owning a pet or swimming in a public swimming pool. The children considered their own lives today and the activities they like to enjoy, and how they would feel if they were told they were not allowed to take part in them.

HMD class visitThe second part of the visit focused on the life of Anne Frank. Library staff talked about Anne’s life after she went into hiding with her family, read out an excerpt of the book ‘Diary of a young girl’ and the children were encouraged to read aloud a selection of powerful and inspiring quotes written by Anne Frank herself.

Library staff ended the visit by explaining the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day, to remember the millions of people who had been murdered in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The clear message learned from the visit was to end hatred and learn lessons from the past when people were treated badly, to prevent it from happening again. The visit concluded with the lighting of a candle and a minute’s silent reflection.

Small Cinema

HMD Woman in GoldSt Helens Library Service provides regular screenings of films as part of the touring cinema project ‘Small Cinema’. To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Newton le Willows Library presented a screening of ‘Woman in Gold’ starring Helen Mirren, which tells the extraordinary true story of Maria Altmann as she attempts to reclaim family possessions that were seized by the Nazis during World War 2. The film was well received by the attending audience.

Rescues of the Holocaust Exhibition

Rescues of the Holocaust HMDSt Helens Library Service has been extremely fortunate in acquiring exhibitions from a number of organisations to support Holocaust Memorial Day over the last six years. This year was no exception and ‘Rescues of the Holocaust’ focused on the fascinating stories of Bertha Bracey, Wilfred Israel, Ida and Louise Cook and Raoul Wallenburg who undertook remarkable rescue efforts to save lives imperilled by the Nazi regime. The exhibition was loaned from The Weiner Library and was displayed firstly in Rainhill Library and then Haydock Library. To launch the exhibition, staff in each library organised a candle lighting event attending by members of the public. Local musician Julia Cadman performed a unique choral composition at the event, based on the Primo Levi poem, ‘If this is a Man’

Civic Ceremony

HMD civic ceremonyFinally, the library service helped to organise the civic Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony, held at the Town Hall on Friday 26th January. Children from both primary and secondary schools were invited to perform songs, poems and readings, inviting attendees to reflect and consider The Power of Words, and how they impact on us and those around us. This formal commemoration, attended by dignitaries such as The Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside, The Mayor & Mayoress, St Helens Council Leader, MPs, local councillors, representatives of organisations and members of the public, was a poignant and emotional ceremony but also gave a sense of hope to audience members from the local community.

St Helens Library Service is proud to support Holocaust Memorial Day by delivering events and activities to remember people who have died in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. St Helens Library Service will continue to challenge hatred, embrace diversity and work within our community to create a safer better future."

HMD choir

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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