Thursday, 26 April 2012

Gateshead Library

Yesterday on the way back from South Shields I made a detour to Gateshead in order to visit the Shipley Art Gallery and to visit Gateshead Central Library. The Shipley art Gallery is probably my favourite art gallery as it always has interesting exhibitions, is beautifully unpretentious, has helpful staff, a good gift shop (useful for Christmas presents) and grand toilets. The current exhibition is 'Journeys in Beadwork'.
There were even some dresses with QR codes made from beads.
On to the library - it was raining so I didn't spend time looking at the outside of the building but it is an old building with a new modern interior.
It is very welcoming and as soon as you walk through the main door you want to explore further.
At the left hand side is a multimedia area - I'm not sure what they call it but it has glass automatically opening doors and when you go in there is music playing!! On the doors it said 'Playing Vividly'. Lots of CDs, DVDs - popular ones, the latest ones, boxed sets - Wednesdays all DVDs £1!! There were music scores too. It was great and busy with people of all ages and knowledgeable staff. it had the wow factor.
The main section was non fiction - set out in a simple yet effective way with cool stripy seating.
There was an extensive selection of books both non fiction and fiction and very up to date and appealing. The books had a feeling of relevancy and that they were suitable for a wide range of people. I liked the layout with seating areas and the shelving used to break up areas without closing them off. Through the fiction area with audio books and quick choice stands was the childrens area and garden. Then onto the teen area which made me wish i was a teenager again - books - computers - games consoles - high bench seats. This area was easy to look into but not part of the thoroughfare. There was a relaxed but purposeful air to the teen section by the people using it.
The main library area leads through to the tourist information area and to the Information services which is the reference library, IT support, local history and quiet study facilities. There is also an art gallery and cafe.
There are a few enquiry desks which are easy to find but not imposing and there are self service issuing / returning machines.
The library had a great feel to it and was busy with users. It has obviously had a lot of resource invested in it and is important as a central library rather than a branch library. I enjoyed visiting it.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Adele Parks at Teesside High School

Today I went to hear a talk by Adele Parks. She is an author of 'chick lit' best sellers.
Last year she gave a talk at Teesside University and she was brilliant. She has a Honorary Doctorate from the university and grew up in the local area at Eaglescliffe. I went to the talk at the university with Geoff and with my friend Roisin.
Roisin is an English teacher at Teesside High School and had been so impressed with Adele she had emailed her and asked if she would come and talk at the school especially to 6th form students studying English.
Adele's talk was very interesting and she focused it on areas that would be informative for the students. She explained how she has become an author through reading and being fascinated by words. She also described how she had become successful through dedication and hard work and that there was nothing wrong with being a 'swot', that it was essential in order to achieve. Hopefully her talk will inspire and reassure some of the students to become writers or at least study English at university. Most of the pupils at the school are all girls and it's good to see cool and successful role models.

While I was there I had a quick look in the library (don't like to miss an opportunity) which is only small but has a great selection of books. It is a great school and it was interesting to visit.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 23 April 2012

No luck at Clare College

Last weekend I stayed at Clare College Cambridge when I was taking Joe back to Churchill. It was a nice place to stay although the beds were not as comfortable as they could have been. The gardens were beautiful. In the booklet for bed and breakfast guests they said you could access the library common room and could use computers in various places. So I went and asked the porter. I said 'Is it possible to look in the library, please' and he said 'No'. I admit it is my fault as I should know by now that it is necessary to email or phone in advance to gain entry - I have filled in quite a few request forms. The porter was very helpful about everything else.
This is the outside of the library from the room where I stayed.

and the University Library

Sunderland Library

We went to visit Sunderland Central Library as I wasn't sure where it was. I thought it was still in the same building as the museum but it isn't, it's just up the main street.

The building is fine but ordinary. There are some very colourful windows on the way up the stairs and some good displays.

There is a very good media section with lots of DVDs CDs etc - an excellent selection.

The main book collection is very extensive, I was surprised at how many books there were.

A wide range of different languages and cultures are catered for.

There is an interesting Dickens display

It is a great, well resourced library but I couldn't get the feel of the place, I just couldn't pick up the vibes.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Billingham Libraries

I decided to go to the library in Billingham as I hadn't been before. Although Billingham is close to where I live it is not in County Durham as we are but in Stockton-on-Tees. I often pass the library on the roundabout but I didn't think that was the main one as the sign outside says Roseberry Library. So I looked up other libraries in Stockton / Billingham and found that Billingham library is Bedale Avenue. It is on a housing estate and the building houses other priority services.

It is a interesting brick building - 1940's? and inside was really great. There are wooden book shelves, old radiators and large windows and it feels very appealing and welcoming. The feel of the place is colourful and lots of books arranged in ways that draw you in. A good fiction selection and smaller displays of new books, books for good reads and book clubs etc.. There was information about events and initiatives eg World Book Night.

There was a children's section and a small computer section. The library was busy with children and adults. The staff were brilliant and very helpful and supportive to users. They were friendly and very efficient. I decided to join the library and the librarian was very informative and explained what I needed to know - I was impressed.

(the only thing was that I felt a bit guilty as I think it must be obvious that I'm looking round with a purpose - I try to take photos surreptitiously but I think I'm going to have to explain in future as I don't want librarians/library assistants to think I'm inspecting them).

Next I went to Roseberry Library which is on the main road roundabout coming into the town. Billingham is a typical concrete car park & shopping centre but is quite alright. They have nice flower displays. The library has a good fiction selection and non fiction and books about local history etc. There is a reference section accessed by a spiral staircase. Wooden bookshelves again, great posters and displays. Staff friendly.

I liked the retro feel of the place and I think that councils should promote and use that to attract different sectors of the community. They are great buildings and there is a demand for retro furniture and items such as records from the 50's and 60's. It would be a good venue for a party.

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Friday, 6 April 2012

Whitby Library - almost

On Wednesday we went to Robin Hoods Bay and then onto Whitby. It was a sunny but really cold day. We got there at 2.15pm and went to find the library but it had closed at 2.00pm. It is sort of tucked away along from the station and in an uninspiring building. Whitby's a bit like that , it has a beautiful harbour and the Abbey is awesome but the buildings are a mixture of grand victorian and more modern hotchpotch. It is a busy town and the library deserves a better building and a more exciting place.
Next time I'll try to get there to have a good look round inside.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Saltburn Library

Saltburn is a small seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast. We visit it quite often and it is definitely 'on the up' compared to 10 years ago I think - there are some nice tea rooms and shops now as well as a beautiful beach.
Last time we went to Saltburn it was a misty murky day and there was an exhibition of knitting on the pier (actually on the rails of the pier) It is still there so worth going to see - it is knitted figures of the Olympics, competitors and events.
The library is up in the town and is a small modernish building

(incidentally next to a nice old building)

There were some knitting exhibits on the railings outside to do with books

Inside the library is small and nearly all fiction. There is a good selection but not extensive. There is a childrens section which leads to a space outside at the back The building also includes the tourist information.