Cambridgeshire volunteers first winners of new award

When Cambridgeshire libraries put out a call for volunteers a couple of years ago, both the Library Service and the Friends were delighted with the numbers of people who came forward. At Rock Road Library, people come to help with gardening, reading with children, giving talks, and telling stories. I’ve seen people of all ages taking part, from the under-8s to the over-80s.

Now the willingness of local people to get stuck in with supporting these great community services has been recognized with a special award.

Cambridgeshire’s Library and Archive Service has been presented with the Five Star Focus Award for its volunteering programme by Volunteering, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, a partnership of Volunteer Centres.

Not only that, but the Library & Service is the first winner in the county.

Cambridgeshire Libraries, and Archives have a wide range of valuable volunteers of all ages – from Computer Buddie and Rhymetime Assistants to the Library at Home service.

Anyone interested in a volunteering opportunity with Cambridgeshire Libraries and Archives can find out more on the Cambridgeshire County Council website, at

An afternoon out with the Cambridgeshire Mobile Library service

bookshelf-1As a newly elected county councillor, I have been spending the summer getting to know council services better, and I recently had an afternoon on the Mobile Library bus with Ally Clarke, the Mobile Library Manager.

After a slight blip due to a delayed train, I’m pleased to see the mobile bus drive into Shepreth Station to pick me up, and Ally welcomes me on board. Ally’s been doing the job for an amazing 23 years, and has known some of the readers since they were small children. Nevertheless, she still has incredible levels of enthusiasm and energy – plus new ideas.

She showed me round the bus – kitted out with a good range, comprising various genres of fiction, non-fiction including lots of biography, audio books and magazines. There’s also plenty of large-print and children’s books.

Many of the readers are older people, but there are also a lot of people with young children. During term time, the bus stops at schools as classes finish, so that children can choose their own books. The mobile library service runs on a monthly cycle. Mobile library readers are allowed longer than the standard borrowing period, in order to read their books to fit in with the schedule.

We are on Route 23 today, 4th Tuesday of the month. It went to Whaddon, Meldreth and Melbourn this morning and I am joining it for the afternoon. (more…)

Bears, benches and books

Rock Road Library is looking set to be a bit of a bear garden this Saturday.

First off, there’s the regular Rhyme Time and Story Time sessions for young children. These events are run by two lively and inspiring storytellers, Judith and Judy. The number of children grows every time: what more can I say?

Next is a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, organized by the Friends of Rock Road Library. Bears and their owners will get to see the new garden benches for the first time, as they will be unveiled at the picnic. These are no ordinary benches, but the first democratically elected benches I have heard of. Normally people get elected to se

Bookstart Bear

ats, but these benches were voted for by local people, when presented with a choice of different bench designs last year.

The latest news is that a celebrity bear is visiting to join in the fun  – the Bookstart Bear, whom you’ll know if you have young children, as Bookstart Bear is the mascot of the Bookstart reading programme for babies and toddlers. Bookstart Bear will be unveiling the new benches as well as meeting children.

So here is the programme:

10.30 Rhymetime

11.00 Storytime

11.30 Picnic in the library garden and unveiling of the new benches

Children should bring a rug, a picnic and their favourite teddy bear or other furry friend.

Chicken humour at Rock Road Library

birdCalling all chicken lovers

Author Martin Gurdon will be visiting Rock Road Library on May 9th to talk about his new book “Doing Bird”, an humorous account of the flock’s adventures over a year, once he had added ducks and doves too.

Rock Road Library, Rock Road, Cambridge, CB1 7UG


Christmas Readings at Rock Road Library

Cambridgeshire actor Geoff Hales entertained a packed Rock Road Library when he visited earlier this year, at the invitation of the Friends of Rock Road Library. He performed a one-man show of dramatised readings from Charles Dickens’ novels.

2012 is Dickens’s bicentenary, so it is fitting that Geoff will be returning next month (13th December). He will be doing a variety of Christmas readings from Dickens as well as other authors.

The show starts at 8 p.m. after a welcome drink.  There is no fixed charge but the Friends invite the audience to donate towards their funds, which go back into events such as this.

Geoff Hales read English at Cambridge, went away and came back! He runs his own theatre company, ‘Travelling Theatre’, which performs one-man shows about great writers. He has appeared all over England and in Prague, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Germany and Switzerland.

The date is Thursday 13th December, time 8 p.m. Last time people were arriving half an hour early and it was standing room only, so I wouldn’t leave it till the last minute.

Cambridge author to speak on family pilgrimage to Nepal

Local author Jane Wilson will be visiting her local library in Rock Road, Cambridge on 15th November to talk about her book, A Glimpse of Eternal Snows.

Jane describes writing A Glimpse of Eternal Snows as “a long, long labour of love”.  This memoir describes the years Jane and her family spent on an island in the middle of the largest tributary of the Ganges, their Himalayan treks and their emotional highs and lows. It will be illustrated with slides and the talk helps launch a new global edition of the book.

8 – 9.30 p.m., 15th November          Rock Road Library  (between Cherry Hinton Road and Blinco Grove)        Light refreshments


Books for sunflower growers, gold medals for readers!

the winning sunflower with its victory garland

On Saturday,  I enjoyed taking part in two prizegiving ceremonies at Rock Road Library, where prizes and awards were given to young readers and gardeners.

The Friends of Rock Road Library have run a Sunflower Competition for local children. Back in March, children planted the sunflowers in the library garden, which is maintained by the Friends. The grower of the best ones was awarded a prize in the form of a signed book by celebrated local children’s author Martin Jenkins.

Martin’s books include “Grandma Elephant’s in Charge”, “Chameleons Are Cool”, “Gulliver” (an adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels), and the “Time Book: A brief history from lunar calendars to atomic clocks”.  He will be there this Saturday to give out prizes.

The second awards ceremoney was for the Summer Reading Challenge, run by the Cambridgeshire County Council’s Library Service. Local children joined with other youngsters not only all over the UK but across the world — a great international event for this Olympics year. Over 20 children between 4 and 11 who had met the target of reading six books over the school holidays received gold medals and certificates.

The Friends of Rock Road Library support the work of the library and arrange community events to support it. The Friends originally came into being to create a garden at the back of the library. They have supported the library throughout the period of threatened cuts to its funding, campaigning to keep open this vital community facility.

Community Library Assistant wanted for Rock Road Library

Are you a ‘people person’? Rock Road Library is advertising for a Community Library Assistant, to work for 14.5 hours a week. For details, see here.

The postholder will be working with community groups, so customer services experience is sought, as well as a passion for libraries and what they can offer.

Go for gold with a good read! Summer reading challenge starting soon at Rock Road Library

Story Lab

One of my favourite jobs has been to give out medals and certificates to children as part of the Summer Reading Challenge.

Our local library, Rock Road Library, has run the Challenge for many years, but the great thing is that it’s being done by children all over the country, indeed in 23 different countries across the world, so you are not reading alone but are part of an international event.

Children between 4 and 11 read six books over the summer holiday, collecting stickers and other treats along the way, culminating in a gold medal and a certificate in September if they fulfil the challenge of reading six books. On Saturday mornings throughout the holidays there will be a chance to visit the library to report on progress and talk about the books you’ve read.

This year, the theme is called Story Lab and is linked in a true international spirit with the 2012 Olympic Games. To find out more, call in at Rock Road Library at the start of the summer holiday.