Children's LibraryToday we took a stroll to the Barbican Library where I visited the children's section. The librarian was very kind and full of useful information. Being there and speaking with her reminded me of why I want to be a children's librarian. The atmosphere is very inviting and colorful. It is apparent that the staff is very involved in the library and truly take their jobs to heart.
Schools come to visit as a group, and the library does outreach to certain schools that can't make it to them. If there is a specific project a class is working on, the librarians organize a project loan-which contains books and resources for the classroom to work on regarding a certain academic area.
Their summer reading program is called Quest Seekers and is all about fantasy. The children are encouraged to read six books in six weeks, and will get a sticker and prize after every two books they finish. Painted on the glass window is a large green dragon with a big open body and tail. There are a few colorful circles inside that contain a child's name and the title of the book they read. Upon completion of program, the goal is to have the dragon's body filled with these colorful 'scales' - evidence of the great work and fun the children participated in.
The storytelling area is just charming, and reminds me of the elementary school I attended. I always loved having a unique area to read in, and that is what kept me so interested in reading. At the Barbican, they have book shelves with steps built in so the kids can sit and listen, and at the same time it doubles as a book shelf! There is one main chair for the story teller and directly next to it is a cave display with a stuffed dragon inside. I heard one frightened child tell his father, "No-don't touch it!". His father assured him it was a nice baby dragon, and proceeded to creep up to the dragon, pet him and jump! There are bean bag chairs and books arranged in colorful boxes on the floor-which I think is great for kids to be able to access. It looks more fun than the typical book shelves-although there were plenty of those as well.
There is one main librarian, one full time assistant and 8 clerks. The city of London pays for them to get their degree as long as they promise to work in exchange. What a great opportunity! Also, the city pays for Book Start-a program where children get a pack of free books and activities from birth - age 5. Starbucks funds three programs a year, all of which seem very in depth and fun. Participation is very high at this branch, and the librarian owes it to getting to know your patrons, and advertising events. These were the two key pieces of advice she gave us. She also said to not worry about making a fool of yourself in front of the kids-just have fun and get into your role. Because of the wonderful job they do at the Barbican, the program is growing rapidly. One story time, there was attendance of over 70 kids! After that, they decided to break it down by age even more. Currently, there are events for infants up through the teens.
For those of you interested in music, there is a special Music Library with a very unique collection. Regretfully, I did not have time to visit it- but you can see for yourself online at http://www.musicpreserved.org.uk/
You can check out the library at http://www.barbican.org.uk/visitor-information/barbican-library