How the library is bringing a community together

How the library is bringing a community together

The library has always been the ideal place to go to get information or learn new things, but can it also help to bring a community together and tackle some of its problems, including loneliness and social isolation. One project in Bootle is working to do just that.

To celebrate National Libraries Week, a project at Bootle Library is showing how libraries can be used to tackle social isolation and build community wellbeing. The Human Library, organised by Sefton Council and funded by Arts Council England, holds a series of new creative events where everything is free and everyone is welcome.

The programme includes the One Pot Project with artists group Fairland Collective, which invites the local community come together to make and eat lunch together; an exercise and health group in collaboration with Sefton OPERA; yoga and mindfulness; a Skills Exchange workshop with the People’s Bureau, a family screenprinting workshop and a podcasting series collecting stories and wisdom from the people of Bootle.

A revamped Storytime, for preschool children and their carers, is launched every Wednesday morning at the library including creative and well-being activities. Later in the autumn, the Human Library will host a cooking and making day for children during half term and a pickling workshop, along with another Skill Share workshop with skills including sewing, photography, flower-arranging and ceramics.

Moira and Maggie both live in Bootle and have come to the library to take part in the workshops and events.

“I had a lovely time at the first ever Skill Exchange. I met so many friendly people and we all had fun. I also enjoyed helping to make soup and chapatis and enjoyed eating it even more!’ says Moira.

Maggie adds; “I’ve met some really lovely people, it feels so great to be involved (in the Human Library) I like that you’re just able to express yourself however suits you. We’ve done lots of different things so far including making bowls out of clay. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t done any of it before & I could just create the shape I wanted not like being at school!”

Lesley Davies is Senior Development Manager for Communities at Sefton Library Service;

“I am so delighted to see the Human Library developing  at Bootle Library, it really shows the innovated ways that libraries are supporting their communities.  It is truly wonderful to see how the creative activities can bring people together in such a positive way.

One of the  project aims was to recruit volunteers; we spoke about volunteers  offering  ‘the gift of the hand, the head and the heart’ and we can clearly see this happening. I have already seen people, who identify themselves as lonely, attending workshops, meeting new people and gaining confidence – which is inspiring.”

October events:

New Storytime
Every Wednesday 10.30-11.15, with tea and toast for parents and preschool children from 10

Skills Exchange
sewing – photography – flower arranging – ceramics with the People’s Bureau, Friday 13 October  11 – 3.30

Podcasting session, Saturday 21 October

One Pot Project for Children, Monday 23 October

One Pot Project:  Pickling workshop, Tuesday 24 October

All event details are on Facebook