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Southwark opens ‘super’ library

Canada Water Library Opening ribbon inside 4 - smallSouthwark Council has opened Canada Water Library, a new £14m pound super library that will become the hub of the community.

In a first for London, visitors to the library will not only have access to some 40,000 books, music CDs & films but will also have spaces to host theatre performances and evening courses.

From January, local citizens will be able to access council services such as benefits and council tax help. They’ll also be able to take in the amazing views of the historic Canada Water basin, which it overhangs.

new CWL coverThe library’s wi-fi network, with nearly 30 laptops available for hire, reflects the growing trend towards the ‘library as living room’ ethos. Across Southwark’s libraries members currently clock up more than 10,000 hours of internet use each month on their wi-fi network alone.

Cllr Veronica Ward, cabinet member for culture, leisure, sport and the Olympics at Southwark Council commented at the opening:

“The new Canada Water library is the latest chapter in Southwark Councils library programme. It is going to be a hub for the whole community. It’s a unique building that offers opportunities for learning, cultural activities and social events and will form the heart of a new planned town centre. We have worked with Capita to deliver our IT solutions as the library is self-service, fully wi-fi enabled and offers a full range of online resources.”

Renowned architect Piers Gough commented that the new library was “a small site with a hugely ambitious library” and that “libraries still hold the capability to take you to other realms”.

Roll up! Roll up! Circus Stars make an entrance at this year’s Summer Reading Challenge launch…

Capita was proud to be invited to the launch of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge at the House of Commons, which this year has the theme ‘Circus Stars’.

The Summer Reading Challenge which is run by independent charity The Reading Agency, along with libraries across the UK, is the biggest and most successful reading promotion for 4-11 year olds, encouraging all children who take part to read at least 6 books over the summer holiday.

The event was bustling with some of the nation’s best loved authors, along with MPs, councillors, publishing industry figures, librarians and library campaigners.

As Miranda McKearney, Director of the Reading Agency explained, this year’s challenge will be the biggest ever, with 97% of local authorities and 3000 young volunteers taking part. Miranda made the point that libraries are in the serious business of making reading fun and the sad fact is that only 40% of children enjoy reading. Research carried out by the UK Literacy Association shows that participating in the Summer Reading Challenge combats the ‘summer holiday dip’ in pupils’ reading motivation and attainment, and boosts their desire to read at home.

Greta Paterson, Head of Children and Young People Services at East Sussex County Council, told me “It’s a fantastic way to connect with young readers, it gets library staff into schools and we see children in the library that we perhaps wouldn’t see otherwise.” The enthusiasm and energy of the people that are directly involved with making the Summer Reading Challenge a success was apparent, as was the mood of optimism and determination despite the tough financial times some library services are facing at the moment.

Voicing his support for the event, Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools described the Challenge as a “pivotal part of the educational reform” that the government is undertaking and revealed that 1 in 5 eleven year olds currently leave primary school without being able to read. He pledged that every child should be able to read by the age of six, a goal which the government has started to work towards.

A highlight of the event was a few words from acclaimed children’s author and Patron of the Summer Reading Challenge, Michael Rosen. He talked enthusiastically about the value of libraries,  which he described as “a treasure trove of the world’s wisdom, there for free”. He also stressed the importance of what he termed “book learning”, even in (or especially in) this age of the internet.

And if the future success of the Summer Reading Challenge wasn’t already in the bag, Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad, announced that The Reading Agency have been selected to be part of the London 2012 Festival. The Reading Agency will be working with libraries all over the UK to stage a huge reading extravaganza and to, as Ruth put it, sprinkle some “Olympic magic dust in every library”. Sounds good to us.