Tag archives: Barnet Library Service

Friday, 16 December 2011

Visit to children’s book group

It was such a treat earlier this week to visit a thriving children’s book group in a Barnet library. I’m told attendance was lower than usual because it’s close to Christmas, but there were still lots of children having a great time. There was a good mix of boys and girls, and of ages, with children from Y2 to Y7. I loved meeting them and hearing what they like reading. This Y5 boy told me he likes books about science, books with facts, and stories as well, so he had chosen the perfect book. I really enjoyed our discussion about it. I was delighted that three looked-after children came to the group with their foster mother.

This week was a special event: The Book Group’s Got Talent. I felt very honoured to be one of the judges. There were some wonderful book reviews, and insightful pieces about favourite book characters. (I was so pleased to hear the BFG, a big favourite of mine, getting a great press, and it was lovely to listen to two very different sets of reasons for Horrid Henry’s popularity.) We were also treated to jokes and to excellent recorder playing and singing. My fellow judge, a children’s librarian from elsewhere in the borough, and I were very impressed by the children’s eloquence and presentation skills, so it was a surprise to find out later from parents and carers that some had overcome speech and confidence problems. In fact, it was clear that the group has had a very positive effect on many of the children, in all sorts of ways. Needless to say, everyone got prizes.

Many thanks to Nalayini, the lovely children’s librarian who runs the group, and to all the children.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Family learning in the cultural and heritage sector

I have been a family literacy tutor for many years, and my work in schools and libraries has made me a passionate believer in the value of family learning. I have experienced first hand the transformations that it can achieve for both children and adults. It is incredibly exciting and moving to watch skills and confidence grow. This family were dedicated attenders of a series of family literacy workshops I gave for Barnet Library Service. Their concentration says so much.

I love giving training on family literacy and on family learning more generally, and I am delighted there is so much interest in putting on family learning programmes and activities in the cultural and heritage sector. In addition to the important benefits to families that these initiatives bring, they are also excellent in terms of breaking down barriers and creating new audiences. My next openly available family learning course is on 17 November, run by Creating Capacity. We will have the opportunity to explore ways to make family learning a reality in museums, galleries, libraries, archives and other heritage organisations, and I will bring along lots of inspiring case studies. In the meantime, there is a very useful recent publication on the topic from niace, for anyone who has not already seen it.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Seminar on libraries and social justice for the University of Missouri

I had the huge pleasure of being one of the trainers at a seminar on Tuesday for PhD and Masters students from the School of Information Science and Learning Technology at the University of Missouri. They are currently on a study tour of the UK, studying for two courses: ‘Libraries, literacy and social justice’ and ‘International libraries in context’. The theme of Tuesday’s seminar was social justice and public libraries, and it was organised jointly by the International Library and Information Group, the Network and myself.

My session was on promoting reading to young people, particularly the links between literacy and teenagers’ life-chances, and the important role of libraries in making reading relevant and enjoyable to teenagers. The discussions were fascinating, and very wide-ranging. We were particularly fortunate in having four young people talking movingly and eloquently about their reading and their involvement with Barnet Library Service. Very many thanks to Kareem, Casey, Rebecca and Elizabeth for their fantastic contributions, which really brought the subject to life, and to the wonderful Barnet library staff.

The seminar ended with an extremely stimulating question and answer session which focused especially on how libraries on both sides of the Atlantic can continue to contribute to social justice at a time of severe budgetary cuts.

I came away from the seminar with my head buzzing. I always love being involved in training that has an international perspective. There was so much food for thought, and lots of ideas that will have a bearing on future training, and indeed on an article I am just embarking on which will be exploring the theme of my session.