I loved Ladybird books as a child and last night’s BBC4 programme, The Ladybird Books Story: How Britain Got the Reading Bug, brought back wonderful memories of learning to read with Peter and Jane and What to Look For in Summer.
I hadn’t realised quite what an impact they had on children’s book publishing and there are fantastic clips in the programme of the original Ladybird displays in book shops and the handwritten letters of gratitude from the book shops to the publishers. If you fancy a bit of bookish nostalgia, you have seven more days to catch the programme on the BBC web site!
In Sandwell, although no libraries have closed in the last few years, several have reduced opening hours (at Langley we recently lost Tuesday afternoons). But one bright spot is that we still have a fantastic selection of new books being purchased for the libraries.
Last week I opened two boxes containing 56 new children’s books. Some were newly published but there were also a complete set of the 2013 editions of Roald Dahl books, plus new editions of Jeff Kinney, David Walliams and other favourites, so I took the old, well-read books off the shelves and replaced them with beautiful, clean copies (one of my favourite parts of the job). A couple of days later a woman came into the library and said her daughter really needed a copy of The Witches by Roald Dahl (children often really need certain books) and when she saw the new editions, she was delighted.
It’s really important that we keep our book stock updated – children (and adults) want good quality copies of all the books they wish to read, not just the recently published ones. If all they can find in libraries are grubby, tatty books, they’ll stop coming. Obviously it’s important to have a wide range of books on the shelves but when money’s tight we have to prioritise the books we know are popular in each particular library and I think that’s something we’re getting better at.
Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library is the UK’s most popular library for the seventh year running, with more visits than any other library. Jennifer Holland, Head of Libraries and Information in Norfolk, said
Part of it is that we keep very well maintained book stocks, and listen to what people like to read, as well as embedding the library service at the heart of delivering council objectives on things like education and employment…We have staff who are passionate about delivering library services, and we work closely with customers to develop events and procure book stock — it has got to be relevant to the people who use the library.
Before giving the latest celebrity biography to your friends and family this Christmas, do the decent thing and try it first!
This display has worked well as we are constantly re-filling the shelves below. The books pictured are so popular that people usually have to order them in advance but at least they’re getting well read!
My beautiful coloured reindeer usually make a visit to the library in December and last year they added a touch of class to a Scandinavian Thriller display at Langley. My sister had seen a similar display in Camberley Library and I thought it was a good winter theme. Despite the growing popularity of Scandinavian crime the books didn’t exactly fly off the shelves but as a result some of our readers became fans of Camilla Lackberg and Jo Nesbo, so I was quite happy.
After the success of the Summer Reading Challenge, Sandwell libraries have started a new reading challenge to try and get children (or adults!) to choose a wider range of books and visit their local libraries more often. The children pick 8 letters/categories at random (A-Z, book themes) and have to read one book from each over the next few weeks in order to win a certificate and a prize.
They can interpret the letters/categories as loosely as they like, e.g. book characters, titles or authors, but the important thing is to get them picking books they wouldn’t normally read and hopefully having good chats with the library staff in the process.