A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
It’s We Love Libraries week here on Author Allsorts, and I leapt at the chance to shout about all the great things happening at Prestatyn Library in Denbighshire, North Wales. I grew up in Prestatyn, so from a young age the library was the place I used to spend hours trawling the shelves and wrapping myself up in a world of books. As a teenager, it was the obvious choice for me when it came to choosing where to volunteer as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and since becoming an author, Prestatyn Library has continually supported and cheered me on.
Back in 2014, they hosted the launch for my debut novel, Blackfin Sky, which had great support from the local community, and included members of the Teen Reading Group doing excellent readings from the book.
|Chatting to Kara Orford from Prestatyn Library about Blackfin Sky, along with 4 members of the Teen Reading Group|
In May this year, I launched Breaker, my second novel, at the library.
Again, it was so great to see how enthusiastic the locals are about books and
library events, and we had another full house!
|The Prestatyn Library crew: Rachel, Kathryn, me, Jools, and Beverley. Also my shoes.|
They keep a really full diary of schemes and events to engage with the local community, from the youngest to the oldest. This year, Prestatyn Library has been involved in The Year of Reading Daringly – a challenge set by a collective of North Wales libraries to encourage adult readers to try books from outside their usual genre. Librarians from across North Wales have chosen the books – one in English, one in Welsh per month – offering something different to entertain, challenge and enrich the reading experience. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts on the selected books through the Facebook group and on Twitter @ReadingDaringly, or by popping into their local library – so it becomes like a virtual reading group. As 2016 has been designated as the Year of Adventure in Wales, this is a chance for people to sign up for lots of new adventures!
Library staff also recruit Summer Reading Challenge volunteers – young people who volunteer under the Reading Hack scheme, and support younger children to complete their Summer Reading Challenge. Last year, Prestatyn had the highest number of volunteers in the county. The Reading Hack volunteers get branded t-shirts and badges, and can come into the library as often as they like to help the younger children with their challenge – some even come in every day. Their time spent volunteering counts toward things like the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and the library offers the volunteers references to help them apply for jobs and other opportunities in future.
The High School Reading Group will be re-launched this autumn with the start of the new school term, where teens are invited to talk about a selection of books beyond what’s on the school curriculum. Led by library staff, these sessions help teens build their confidence and make new friends through a shared love of reading.
Prestatyn Library celebrates each World Book Night in style, and has recently had crime writer Stephen Booth in to talk about his books, and hosted the Wales flagship event for World Book Night 2014, where they held two different sessions: a ‘Monsters in the Library’ event for families with Doctor Who writer Mark Wright, where attendees were invited to come in costume and design a new Doctor Who monster or alien, and a ‘Murder in the Library’ event with authors A. D. Garrett and Cath Staincliffe, where they lifted the lid on crime writing.
But it’s not all about books. As well as offering the services you might expect from a local library, Prestatyn Library works as a community hub, offering a point of contact for Citizens Advice Bureau, social work advice, and tax advice through HMRC.
Prestatyn Library takes its position at the heart of the community very seriously, taking an active role in improving the well-being of its residents. The library forms part of the iSpy network – a group of businesses and community buildings in Prestatyn which carry the iSpy symbol, showing that they are a haven from bullying. Any child or young person who is being bullied can go into any of these places and know that they have a safe space where they can talk to an adult about what they are going through. As well as the library, the local football club, pop-in centre, and local primary schools are all signed up
to the scheme.
Every Tuesday morning, it’s language and play time! Parents with young children/babies come in for these fun, noisy sessions where toys offering a variety of textures and sounds are used to encourage language skills and development.
The Reader Organisation-led Shared Reading Group meet at the library every week, and during these sessions a great story or poem is read aloud, then the group stop and talk about what they have read. According to The Reader Organisation: ‘There is no need for
group members to read aloud themselves, speak or even stay awake! – The idea is to create a place where people feel at home. Groups are open to all ages, educational backgrounds and abilities, and are free to attend.’
Prestatyn Library has also been making headlines on a national level. In May 2014, then Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths, chose Prestatyn Library to launch a new set of standards setting out what the public can expect from their public libraries. This framework is used to look at how using a library service can increase skills, improve health and well-being, and help individuals to feel part of the community.
I’m always excited to see what’s happening at the library – and I can follow them online or pop in and catch up with the latest news from Prestatyn Library’s friendly and enthusiastic team. With all their amazing achievements and massive contribution to the local community, I’m wishing Prestatyn Library a very happy We Love Libraries week!
Follow the latest news from Prestatyn and other Denbighshire Libraries on Twitter:
(Welsh language) http://twitter.com/cyngorsDd
(English language) http://twitter.com/DenbighshireCC
Kat Ellis is a YA author from North Wales. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time photographing ruins and cemeteries to inspire her creepy stories. PURGE is her third novel, and BREAKER and BLACKFIN SKY are also available now.