Celebrating Libraries Week 2017

Shoreditch Library

First up is Shoreditch Library, which is local to our charity partner Ministry of Stories. They often work together – the library hosted their launch party for 17 unique picture books written by children aged between 8 and 12, brought to life by volunteer illustrators, and published by Penguin Random House. As you can see below, the picture books are on display at the library for anyone to read.

Celebrating Libraries Week 2017
Celebrating Libraries Week 2017

Why are libraries important?

Libraries cater for everyone in the community and provide a myriad of services and opportunities in one safe and accessible space. They offer information, entertainment, ideas and also provide people with the skills and support needed to access these, as well as being somewhere anyone can come in and feel part of their local community.

Beyond borrowing books, why else do people visit your library?

Information and a sense of community – we’re usually the first point of call for anyone with a question or problem they can’t find the answer to. This ranges from local information to more important enquiries about health, housing and childcare. We answer as much as we can and then sign post people to other service.

What does a week at your library look like?

Our weeks are very varied! Monday to Friday we’ll be busy with PC coaching and class visits from schools and nurseries. After school, Saturdays and during the school holidays we run regular events for children like Chatterbooks, a homework club, the Arts Award and the Summer Reading Challenge. We have young people coming in to volunteer and they’ll help us deliver our events or plan and run their own projects. We often host events and workshops ran by other organisations. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic local groups and we’ve had bouquet making workshops, poetry evenings, English advice sessions, and a book launch for picture books written by children.

What are your regular visitors looking for?

With more and more services being moved online, digital access is crucial for our visitors at the moment. As well as providing the facilities, we also support access to these services.

The Feminist Library

Celebrating Libraries Week 2017
Celebrating Libraries Week 2017

The Feminist Library houses a large collection of Women's Liberation Movement literarure, and represents many of the strands and groups present in the women's movement. The lbrary has been sustained for over 40 years by the goodwill, passion and commitment of many individual women, and many of the items it holds are unique, such as a transcript of the first Women's Liberation Confrence, held in 1970.

Why are libraries important?

Libraries, and in particular the Feminist Library, allow access to material that inspires and encourages another generation of activists and campaigners, and create a calm space to read, research or join an event. We are the guardians of herstories – women’s voices and words held within the pages of journals and books that might otherwise have been lost.

Beyond viewing the collection, why else do people visit your library?

As well as coming to view and research the archive, people come to the events that we host. We run zine making workshops, film nights, cycling workshops, feminist yoga, life-drawing classes, and book launches and talks. We run tours for students, schools and academic institutions, and groups such as Fourth Wave hold their meetings here.

What does a week at your library look like?

No week is ever quite the same. We have meetings to look at new donations for collection, researchers coming in to borrow journals for a book, Feminist Yoga on Thursdays, and this Saturday and Sunday we will be at a Feminism in London event. We also have a Peruvian film night coming up as part of our Latinx Feminista Festival.

What are your regular visitors looking for at the moment?

They look for materials to support their own feminist campaigning; inspiring images for zine making and art exhibitions; space to have zine launches and talks; information about events going on in London and the rest of the UK; a place to come and talk about feminism. They also come to volunteer and be part of our wonderful collective helping to keep alive and push forward our desire for equality in the world.

The first ever Libraries Week ran from the 9-15 October. To find out more about the campaign and how your library got involved, visit their website.

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