We love libraries!

We love libraries!

Picture of Layne Harrod

BY: Layne Harrod
05 Oct 2020

As Libraries Week commences we want to take this opportunity to celebrate the great work libraries do, particularly applauding their recent Arts Award delivery during challenging circumstances.

As you will be aware, libraries had to close to the public several months ago, however they continued to provide essential support within communities; offering Click & Collect services and allowing continued use of computers for those that needed it most.

The link between Arts Award and libraries goes back some time, we were thrilled to be invited to lead a session at the Youth Libraries Group & School Library Association conference in 2017. Each year we also work closely with our partners at The Reading Agency to produce exciting new resources that can be used to achieve Arts Award Discover whilst completing the Summer Reading Challenge. This year we are excited to be supporting the Winter Mini Challenge – more information will be available on The Reading Agency website soon.

Digital paint alienLibraries have previously embraced delivering Arts Award Discover and Explore through several initiatives including the Summer Reading Challenge, after school clubs, as part of World Book Day projects and by delivering Bronze Arts Award to home educated young people. More recently, during the pandemic library staff across the country have successfully continued to deliver Arts Awards by making adaptations to their approach.

Hayley Ellams, Team Librarian at Shropshire Libraries maintained presence within their local community by delivering Arts Award Discover and Explore remotely. Hayley tells us about this process:

‘Not long after lockdown started we began offering a remote version of Arts Award Discover where participants printed off our custom-made log books to complete at home.

Resource pack front cover-1

Quite quickly we realised that we would not be re-opening our buildings in the usual way anytime soon, so we developed the opportunity for participants to complete their portfolios online, using a secure learning platform, Seesaw. This brought forward our plans to run Discover and Explore Arts Award using our library buildings during the summer holidays, and we began offering our new online opportunities in May. 

To help inspire young people on their Arts Award journey, we produced a digital resource pack highlighting the many e-resources available to them from the library and elsewhere. Our participants were free to choose whatever art forms they wanted to complete their portfolios. We have been really impressed with the wide range of artwork created so far: from sewing to photography, and poetry to painting.

I think that the enthusiasm with which participants have completed their awards suggests that there was a real hunger to ‘get stuck in’ to a creative project, especially after the disruption to schooling during lockdown.

Libraries thrive on their face to face contact and connection with the local community, and so it was challenging at first to adapt to this type of delivery and was a real learning curve, but it has been so uplifting to be working on something positive during a time of such uncertainty. We have already talked about how we might be able to use this type of delivery in the future. Overall, we feel very proud that we have still been able to offer Arts Award to the young people in our county this year.’

Anne Careless, Team Leader from Tewkesbury & Churchdown Libraries also told us about how Gloucestershire Libraries have been involved with Arts Award and the Summer Reading Challenge over the summer.

Fursona'Crazy Critters,’ directly linked to the Summer Reading Challenge, encouraged children to create their own model of a crazy critter to join the Summer Reading Challenge’s Silly Squad and create a narrative around its habitat, behaviour and character. We marketed this on our special Summer Reading Challenge Facebook page which included videos of all the activities and explained how they could be used for Discover at Home. We also promoted through hard copy information leaflets and copies of the map & log book available to families when they came to our libraries.’

Coming up later this year is our partner The Reading Agency’s Winter Mini Challenge. Running each year this is a great opportunity which encourages children to read over the winter break. This year we are supporting it further by creating some free to use resources to allow children to achieve an Arts Award Discover while taking part.

We hugely value the partnership between the Summer Reading Challenge and Arts Award, and we're delighted that libraries were able to use the Challenge and the Silly Squad to engage and inspire children over the summer. With the Winter Mini Challenge coming up, and next year's Summer Reading Challenge already being planned, we're looking forward to working together to reach even more children next year! Emma Braithwaite, Programme Manager, Children's Reading, The Reading Agency

If you are a library interested in delivering Arts Award for the first time, please do get in touch

Images: art work from Shropshire Libraries Arts Award Explore participants

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