We love our public libraries. And are not alone. With the past, and continuing, budget cuts facing libraries up and down the country it has brought library fans out in droves.
Regardless of your personal political beliefs, the tireless work of local groups campaigning, fighting and saving their local libraries is admirable. But we felt there was something missing in all these campaigns. With all the focus spent on saving libraries, little time was left to take a step back and remind people why they are worth saving in the first place. So this is what we do. Celebrate My Library is a not-for-profit social enterprise set up in 2012 by Hilary and Victoria, two new(ish) graduates who do just that, celebrate everything that is great about this countries’ libraries.
We see libraries as the heart of a community, a place for all demographics to come together and use this truly ubiquitous space that many deeply rely on. We host events and talk to those who love their library, document it all on our every growing website, and try to encourage those who do not use this resource through the doors.
Focusing on the close link between child literacy and library use, we have been running children’s writing workshops within libraries. These have recently been documented on ITV London News, with help from ITV Fixers, and encourage children to see the library space as a fun, exciting place, rather than a place just to borrow books.
Our big dream for Celebrate My Library is to begin a partnership with local council, and work within this one localised area to really cement the public library as the hub of a community. As part of this we would introduce more activities to libraries, including skills banks and intergenerational workshops, on top of our children’s workshops.
We are lucky enough to have already secured funding from vInspired to begin the inter-generational workshop part of this expansion scheme. This will bring together the elderly and young within a community, giving them a platform to share both personal and neighbourhood stories. In these workshops the young and old come up with a story, based on true events, and as with our children’s workshops we will have an illustrator on hand to ‘live-draw’ the narrative as it evolves. Producing a beautiful illustrated book as the end result, Celebrate My Library presents this book back to the host library for all participants to return and see their handy-work.
The funding and support we have received over the past 12 months has enabled us to progress Celebrate My Library beyond what we could ever have hoped. But, as is always the case, we always want to do more and are constantly applying for funding, and coming up with ways to seek sources of revenue. One avenue we are currently exploring is crowd-funding. We would love to hear from anyone who as successfully (or unsuccessfully!) launched a campaign like this with any tips and advice they may have!
We also love hearing from all library lovers up and down the country. Regardless of if you just drop in before your summer holiday to pick up your poolside reading, pop in just to shelter when it is raining, or use it everyday to read the newspapers, or run a chatterbooks group… we want to hear from you!
This post has been contributed by Victoria Foster of Celebrate My Library, which celebrates libraries and everything they do by speaking to the people who love them the most. Through this Celebrate My Library try to show people who don’t yet use libraries just how great they can be. Find out more at http://www.celebratemylibrary.co.uk/ and contact them [email protected]