Librarithon Update #3

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I’m looking for just £12 pounds more sponsorship – could you be the one to help me reach £200 for Book Aid? You can sponsor us via the secure site

Oh goodness me! We’ve been zooming all over the place visiting libraries these past few days. I’ve been amazed to discover so many new-to-us libraries, how each one is different, how each has a different feel and vibe, even though many are in the same city.

Here are some photos from Library 8 in our Librarithon. We visited this library, and nos 9 and 10, on Tuesday.

I counted books in at least 15 different languages in this library! None in Dutch, but M gave one in an Arabic script (?perhaps Urdu) a go!

As in just about every library we’ve visited, before we knew it we were chatting to other families using the library. One young girl asked if M and J wanted to play with her and soon they were happily chatting and making friends. Next up the security guard wanted to join in! He was great – really friendly and encouraging and added to a sense that everyone is welcome in this library, it’s a safe place, a place where you can strike up a conversation with a stranger and for it to be perfectly alright. We need more places like this!

And here’s one more photo of Library 8 that I already posted on Twitpic:

One chocolate football, one slice of chocolate cake and one bannoffie pie eclair later we were at Library no. 9:

The staff at Library 9 seemed very excited to hear about our Librarithon! In every library we visit I give the staff on the counter a little flyer I’ve created about our Librarithon, what we’re doing and why, and then ask them if it is ok to take photos as long as the only identifiable people in them are my children. Some librarians have been nervous I’m going to ask them for sponsorship (which I don’t), but these librarians welcomed us with open arms, which was really heartening.

The next photo is specially for the wonderful Book Chook. She’s sponsored our Librarithon and asked us to look out for an Australian animal. Here is an excited M with a Koala!

Finally for the day it was on to Library 10:

Initially our time here was quite depressing. One of the children’s librarians I know well from our local library (which is now closed, but which has redeployed its staff) talked to me at length about her fears for the library service in our city. I learned that the library budget isn’t part of Education or even Leisure – it comes under Housing!


Everywhere I go I’m hearing how librarians are living with a great deal of uncertainty. Nobody is telling them anything about their futures, though everyone seems sure that if there aren’t actual closures in this city, almost every library will have to reduce the number of hours it is open per week.

Fortunately my mood brightened when another Mum and I ended up in fits of giggles over something silly and too complicated to repeat here, though it did involve the idea of libraries lending out children as well as books. And then there was the lovely Satoshi Kitamura carpet – I’m putting it on my birthday wish list!

And one more photo on Twitpic:

On Wednesday we travelled into another county for Library 11.

For those of you concerned about how the kids are enjoying our Librarithon – just look at them skipping in the photo above!

M, J and I loved this sculpture just in the entrance to the library, all about the development of alphabets and writing. Having earlier in the day read about how a Maisy book has been challenged in a US library because it shows Maisy putting on her pants (in the context of her getting dressed) I did wonder if a sculpture like this could ever make it into a US library…

I loved the idea of “Books on Prescription”. These were actually all to do with health issues, but I thought the idea could easily be developed with a list of “ailments” and a corresponding list of books that would help, for example funny books to banish the blues.

This library also had a huge pile of puzzles. They weren’t for loan, but rather available for users to set up and come back to over whatever time they liked. I loved the idea of people coming in to the library for a little bit of quiet time, but with people nearby, and being able to come back day after day.

By chance we were able to sneake in an extra library on Wednesday, our twelfth library so far.

Unfortunately this library was the only one so far where we were refused permission to take photos inside the library 🙁

I hope you get a sense from these photos how much fun we’re having, and how we’re pulling out all the stops to visit libraries, support them and raise money for Book Aid International. We’re doing our bit – could you do something for us and sponsor us just £2? This is enough for Book Aid International to get a book to where it’s needed. And, even though I’ve said it before, it’s worth repeating – that book might be the one that changes someone’s life.

Don’t forget, if you can’t sponsor us but would still like to help Book Aid International then pay a visit to Tidy Books’ Facebook page and tell them what book changed your life. For every 4 nominations, Tidy Books will donate a book to Book Aid International. You’ll also stand a chance of winning one of Tidy Books’ bookcases for yourselves (and they’re gorgeous, I can tell you!). So go on, hop over there and leave a comment! What’s stopping you?

11 Responses

  1. Susan Stephenson, the Book Chook

    Yay! Great koala hunting! Thanks for another update. I am so enjoying these peeks into your libraries.

    But so sad to read your libraries’ plight. I believe it’s the same in USA and here too. Yet a library is such a hub of learning, interaction, entertainment and quiet joy. Surely the powers that govern will come to their senses.

  2. sandhya

    Loved all your posts on the librarithon. Lovely to have a peek into them, and thanks for posting those photographs.
    Did you come across any books in Marathi? That is the language we speak at home, and I see there were books in Arabic, Hindi, Bengali among others.
    And no, Arabic is not quite the same as Urdu, though they share the script. Urdu has come from Arabic, rather from a version of Arabic called Pharsi, brought to India by the Persian invaders and is a more Indianised version closer to Hindi, Most speakers of Hindi understand a lot of spoken Urdu. The scripts are very different, though. Hindi has adopted the Devanagari script that is common to Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi.
    The situation of libraries here is abysymal, there is a next to none concept of a free library, except for some government run ones that are extremely outdated in their content and running. The good ones are paid places, and even those are not so many. I suppose it is to be expected in a country where a lot of times survival with dignity is the major question. I would count myself and others like me as priviledged in a lot of ways.
    Here is a post I had done some time ago on libraries.

    • Zoe

      Thanks Sandhya for your generous comment. Loved your post about libraries in India!

  3. Gary Green

    Really enjoying following your Librarithon tweets and reading the blog posts… I bet you’ll be glad of a rest though next week… but maybe you could see how many libraries you could all tour in a year as the next librarithon! 😉

  4. Even in Australia

    I love this idea! How are the libraries near you organized, institutionally?

    Here in New York, the New York Public Library has branches in three of the five boroughs – Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. Brooklyn and Queens each have their own systems. Within the NYPL, I can request books online and if my local branch does not have it, those books will be sent to my local branch (or any other branch I request).

    I just looked it up and “Of its 82 branch libraries [fewer than I thought!], 35 are in Manhattan, 34 are in the Bronx, and 12 are in Staten Island.” There are also solely research libraries and specialized branches such as “The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, the circulating collections of the Science, Industry and Business Library, and the circulating collections of the Library for the Performing Arts.” (I took this info from

    • Zoe

      Hello Even in Australia,
      I can borrow material from any library in the conurbation I live in (about 52 currently I think, with a total stock of 2.7 million books), and can return it to any library. So that’s pretty good. It meant that this last week I got lots of books out from libraries we were visiting and can return them when I’m ready to my regular library. In a neighbouring county they have a policy of allowing anyone to join the library. No ID is required at all, not even for children. The librarian I spoke to about this (in library 11 I think) said that this had been a very deliberate policy decision about 10 years ago to send out a message that all and everyone is welcome in the library. She said there is some fraud, but at a level very similar to that previously, when proof of ID was required.

  5. Tasha at Book Aid International

    I love this post Zoe. You three really have visited some amazing libraries – so varied. I remember the controversy over the Maisy getting dressed image from when I was studying for my Children’s Lit MA. It caused quite a heated debate during our seminar too which was fascinating. I love the fact that we can have sculptures in our libraries that provoke knowledge, discussion and imagination. Thanks so much for your amazing support.

    • Zoe

      Hi Tasha,

      It’s I who thank you for providing the impetus to do something to fun and worthwhile! Two week ago I don’t think I’d even thought of the word Librarithon, and yet here I am having completed one and loved doing it!

    • Zoe

      Hi Becky, yes, that’s been another great side effect of undertaking the librarithon, you’re right!

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