In Warwickshire, we pride ourselves on providing a great offer to our esteemed young people: a welcoming environment, great new books received every week, weekly rhyme time, story stomp and book magic sessions, participation in national schemes such as The Summer Reading Challenge.
It is worth noting, however, that public libraries have not always been children-friendly. Quite the opposite, in fact! The stereotype of the shushing librarian will probably come to mind. It was probably one of the biggest challenges for libraries: children might express themselves and play quite loudly!
Public libraries are way more inclusive today, thanks to considerable work undertaken by visionary staff that fought for children to be considered valuable library users. One name immediately comes to mind: librarian, author and storyteller Eileen Colwell, who became ‘a pioneer of children’s libraries and a champion of children’s books’ according to this moving obituary in the Guardian. Our staff can admire her greatly, since ‘over the years – and invariably accompanied by her glove-puppet Jacko – she gave storytelling sessions to up to 40,000 children’. I am sure you’ll agree that this is quite a crowd! Can you imagine how many children left her library inspired? She was an absolute heroine.
Can you imagine not having those privileged moments around stories with your children?