Living Knowledge blog

1 posts from March 2017

24 March 2017

Living Knowledge Network skills sharing day


The Living Knowledge Network’s first skills sharing day took place late last year. Librarians from around the UK came to the Norrish Library in Portsmouth to talk together, share ideas and learn collectively. Following a recent blog post on the event on the Libraries Taskforce blog, I received requests for more detailed information on the aims and outputs of the day, which I have summarised below.

Aims of the day

  • Share experience and best practice around working with children under 12 and hard to reach families
  • Network with partner libraries and Learning colleagues
  • Look at working together on joint learning opportunities

Spotlight Sessions

Nick Sharratt, Author/Illustrator

Experience working with under 12’s in museums/libraries/schools:

  • Short Stories are best for sharing as more interactive
  • Low-tech sometimes most effective
  • Books with lots of themes (and humour) good for interactivity and discussion
  • Flap books ideal for children with differing language skills (used by Nick Sharratt when working with Syrian refugee children)
  • Activities involving humour are good for engaging and getting the feel of groups
  • Content of books can generate activities, eg. Pants or Socks – designing sock animals or objects (Stegosockus or a Sock air balloon)
  • Props and actions provide interesting focal points and help engage children in the session (Never use a Knife and Fork – Balance bagels on head and do actions)
  • Inclusive draw-alongs on large rolls of paper ideal for big group activities

Cerys Griffiths, Executive Producer, BBC Learning

BBC Learning experience working with children in public libraries and lessons learnt:

  • Amazing Authors programme primarily focusing on C2,D,E audiences
  • Research shows that it is not so much brand that makes a difference, but activities that are accessible and open for everybody
  • Celebrities get headlines, but Social Media Influencers (e.g. blogger/vlogger e.g. charlieissocoollike) will actually influence what people do
  • Local Libraries key players in making the social media campaign successful for #LovetoRead
  • Post #LovetoRead weekend, statistics indicated initial 30% increase in borrowing from local libraries

Group Discussion

Strategies to attract hard to reach families into libraries through partnerships:

  • Looking to partner with Children’s Centres, Schools, and Community fun days/Fresher’s fairs
  • Changing perceptions
  • Taking activities outside the libraries – e.g. work with housing associations
  • Building up trust with long-term projects
  • Summer Reading Challenge generates excitement
  • Young ambassadors
  • Tours and behind the scenes features
  • Work with sports clubs to explore sport through libraries
  • Attract parents and dispel Threshold Anxiety by using the Library space for other activities – e.g. School plays and sleep overs
  • Tackle library and cultural institution representation in pop culture
  • Dispel myths about young people’s interests
  • Major challenge to attract parents and carers as opposed to children
  • Working with multi-agency groups to increase library reach with targeted families (C2,D,E) that libraries might not otherwise have data on
  • Be clear about target audience and target outcomes
  • Wider partnerships needed to reach wider services and marketing services
  • Libraries do not always have to be content providers, but also facilitators
  • Advocators needed in local communities

Key outcomes of the day

  • Partnerships with other local community and cultural organisations extremely important as they improve the reach of Libraries in who they can engage, and expands the scope of activities that can be put on
  • Evaluation becoming increasingly important in order to stand up to scrutiny from governing bodies
  • Important to re-evaluate activities and learning programmes periodically in order to avoid becoming outdated
  • Providing clear outcomes and a clear progression of activities important for sustained interest
  • Targeting and engaging adults (parents and carers) is just as important as engaging children under 12 in C2, D, E audiences as they are in control of children’s schedules

What participants thought

‘A really great informative day - a real treat to share and receive ideas’

‘It was great. Particularly the mix of people’

‘Locally we have established partners who we will work with in 2017 and provided colleagues with contacts out of area, which will certainly bear fruit in terms of ongoing skill sharing and new projects. On an immediate level, it was an opportunity to listen to some high level and very entertaining speakers.’


Ella Snell

Living Knowledge Network Manager


[Photo credit: Strong Island Co]