A Celebration of 2017 at Hampshire Libraries!

So 2017 draws to a close and at Hampshire Libraries we close our doors for the year. And what a fantastically varied and successful year we’ve had across the service and our 48 library branches! Here is just a selection of highlights from across the last 12 months…

Summer Reading Challenge 2017

The theme this year was ‘Animal Agents‘ which proved very popular relating to both animals and detective themes for our young readers. This year 26,638 children have taken part in the scheme which means that 4% more children and their families have been into our libraries and discovery centres over the summer. We also broke our record for schools visited – 84% this year which provides a platform to engage with schools and promote the scheme through school assemblies.

This year we also trialled a new way of delivering the challenge to a Special Educational Needs School which has been very successful; with 70 children completing the challenge through a combination of assemblies and story sharing. We look forward to taking the challenge to more special schools in the summer of 2018.

The Makery Spaces

Both Fareham and Fleet Libraries each contain a Makery space: a flexible digital space which has been equipped with high specification equipment. The Makery was created for technical enthusiasts and amateurs alike to learn and develop new skills and experiment with creative digital concepts in a collaborative style using: Apple iMacs running Sketch Up Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud, Apple iPads, Lego EV3 Robotics, Raspberry Pi and Crumble kits for explore coding, electronics and the world of micro computers, 3D printing, and more!

The events, classes and workshops available at the sites continues to grow and prosper, and 2018 is a real time of development so expect to see much more announced throughout!

Jane Austen 200

2017 marked 200 years since the passing of perhaps Hampshire’s most famous and celebrated author. Naturally we couldn’t resist the chance to celebrate her fantastic books and Austen’s impact on both local and literary heritage.

While there were events, talks and exhibitions throughout the county during the summer months, perhaps the most notable was Hampshire Cultural Trusts’ ‘Mysterious Miss Austen’ exhibition at Winchester Discovery Centre. Hampshire Archives and Local Studies provided a fascinating collection of Austen related artefacts, including a fake marriage entry Austen wrote as a teenager, which went on display at The Gallery at Winchester Discovery Centre from May through to July.

Winchester Discovery Centre’s 10th Birthday

The final weekend of November saw the celebration of Winchester Discovery Centre‘s 10th anniversary, a weekend bursting with activity and an opportunity to reflect on the 10 years since Winchester Library was refurbished and reopened to huge success.

The celebrations included a public open day, showcasing some of the best attractions that the building offers. From book groups to dance troupes, the Winchester Discovery Centre has been at the heart of the local community, and the staff were proud to be part of a day packed with fun and fascination. Also a ceremony for invited dignitaries celebrated the individuals and organisations which launched the Discovery Centre in 2007 and which have supported it since. For more details see our special celebratory blog.

1 Millionth eBook and eAudiobook Download

Sometime on the 16th October 2017 our service recorded its 1,000,000th download from our fantastically successful Overdrive eBooks website. While being a significant landmark, it also demonstrated the changing offer of the library service and Hampshire’s ability to lead by example for all modern library services. All indications are that no other public library service has reached this milestone so far.

DOTS iPad Lending Service

Thanks to nearly £250,000 awarded by Arts Council England, we launched Library DOTS  (Digital; Options, Training and Support), our tablet computer lending project to help tackle social isolation and improve digital literacy.

120 3G enabled tablets were made available for eligible Hampshire residents for a four week loan period, during which training is provided.

The tablets are pre-loaded with relevant online library services, and useful applications linking to themes such as health and well being and information about local communities and services.

Micro:bit Lending

Hampshire Libraries took another step into technological lending with the micro:bit lending service. This compliments the other STEM offers, such as the Code Clubs and Makery spaces.

Micro:bits are small programmable computers, designed to make learning and teaching easy and fun. Library members over the age of 11 will be able to borrow, free of charge a micro:bit pack for a loan period of 4 weeks! Micro:bit loaning packs include: one micro:bit, battery packs, USB cables and a start up leaflet. Check the library catalogue for availability.

Libraries Week

The first annual Libraries Week, following on from the tradition of a February Libraries Day, took place between 9th and 15th October 2017. This was a fantastic time to really show the sheer variety of what libraries off local communities. While events and promotions took place throughout, a huge highlight in the celebrations was the arrival of popular broadcaster and writer Gemma Cairney to Basingstoke Discovery Centre on Tuesday 10th October. Her smaert, sassy and brilliantly animated style wowed our largely youthful audience, all the while dealing with issues of huge significance with deft and humour. We only hope to have more events like this during next years’ Libraries Week!

So here it is, goodbye 2017. We’ve been amazed by the successes and inspired by the variety, so we look forward to providing an even better year in 2018. Join us!


10 Years of Winchester Discovery Centre: A Celebration

The final weekend of November saw the celebration of Winchester Discovery Centre‘s 10th anniversary, a weekend bursting with activity and an opportunity to reflect on the 10 years since Winchester Library was refurbished and reopened to huge success.

On Tuesday 27th November 2007, Winchester Discovery Centre staff opened their doors for the first time. Five million visitors, three million book loans and thousands of events, workshops and exhibitions later, the Centre is a library reinvented and so much more besides. The staff involved in the planning, renovating, opening and running of the building ever since were well deserving in their day of congratulations.

The weekend began with a variety open day, showcasing some of the best attractions that the building offers. From book groups to dance troupes, the Winchester Discovery Centre has been at the heart of the local community, and the staff were proud to be part of a day packed with fun and fascination.

As with all Hampshire Libraries, the Discovery Centre loves to support community projects, and we welcomed some of the friends and organisations that we have worked with over the years including (for details of these partners see the end of this blog):

Hampshire Cultural Trust showcasing the dozens of exhibitions displayed within the Discovery Centre’s two galleries during those 10 years as part of an on-going partnership.
Winchester Science Centre providing interaction with with some crazy experiments!
– Artist Alice Kettle, with some fascinating talks and workshops.
– Popular children’s author Richard Hardie reading stories in the children’s library.
Art Talk, running FREE family craft workshops
– World record challenging roboticist James Bruton, who brought his electric Lego skateboard!
– The Winchester Fusion Choir singing us a happy birthday and performing a few favourites!
– Local partners such as Winchester Churches Nightshelter, Winchester Action on Climate Change and Pillars of Parenting and the Hampshire Library Home Library Service with information stands to raise awareness of their important work. The Home Library Service volunteers have been working with the library staff, supplying reads to immobile residents to support their love of reading.
King Alfred Buses with a vintage bus parked on our terrace!
– The Speaking Volumes and Crime Reading library book groups.
– The Winchester Chamber Orchestra super musicians as part of a string quartet.
– A raffle, entered by loaning 2 items from the library, with brilliant prizes from local business and partners.

Moving on to Monday 27th November, individuals and organisations instrumental in the Centre’s development were welcomed back for an official ceremony, acknowledging the huge success of the building since it’s refurbishment and the role of the building moving forward.

Above, left to right: Isabella Creagh, Competition Winner; WDC10 birthday cake; artist Alice Kettle with Carmel Gillies; Cllr Roy Perry

The arriving delegates in the Performance Hall were greeted by the Friends of Winchester Chamber Orchestra’s beautiful classical melodies, while a range of partners and events organisers were on display around the room. The guests were then offered guided tours of the building, providing a sense of all the diverse features the Centre offers.

Back in the hall, our Head of Libraries and Registration Services Sara Teers opened the ceremony, introducing The County Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, Councillor Andrew Gibson. His speech congratulated the building on all its successes:

“Winchester Discovery Centre was one of our first libraries where we blended strong library traditions with modern facilities such as a performance hall, art gallery and café to transform it into a real community hub.
“A key part of this success is down to the award-winning redesign by our in-house Property Services team, establishing the Discovery Centre as a versatile space and flagship venue. The popularity of the Discovery Centre is far greater than we’d dared to imagine – welcoming visitors of all ages for reading, learning, family activities and cultural events.
“My thanks go to all of our visitors, dedicated staff and volunteers who have contributed to its success – here’s to the next ten years.”

The Leader of the Council, Cllr Roy Perry, then presented a gift made by local artist Alice Kettle to Carmel Gillies, wife of the late architect Alec Gillies who was a prominent designer of the building. Cllr Gibson then returmed to present the winner of the Discovery Centre’s Christmas Card Competition, Isabella Creagh (pictured above & below on the far left). The WDC10 cake was then cut by Isabella as the ceremony came to a close.

Above: Dignitaries from left to right: Isabella Creagh, Cllr Andrew Gibson, Carmel Gillies, Alice Kettle, Cllr Roy Perry.

In the ‘Celebration of 10 Years’  stop-motion footage that played behind the podium throughout, it proudly declared the 500,000 people per year that have passed through the Discovery Centre’s doors in every one of those 10 successful years. What a way to welcome some of those people back over the weekend, and acknowledge those that began the Centre’s journey throughout that time. We now anticipate more successes in the next 10 years!

Associated partners and organisations:

Hampshire Cultural Trust
Winchester Science Centre
Winchester Community First
Alice Kettle
Richard Hardie
Art Talk, running FREE family craft workshops
James Bruton
Winchester Fusion Choir
Winchester Churches Nightshelter
Winchester Action on Climate Change
Pillars of Parenting
Home Library Service
King Alfred Buses
Speaking Volumes and Crime Reading library book groups
Winchester Chamber Orchestra

Raffle sponsors:

  • Porterhouse Steakhouse
  • Wilds Sports
  • Sarah Bennett hair products
  • Arcana Hair
  • Koh Thai Winchester
  • The Consortium
  • Brasserie Blanc
  • Theatre Royal Winchester
  • Greens Wine Bar
  • Dim T Winchester


Winchester Science Festival 2017

Winchester Discovery Centre hosted Winchester Science Festival over the weekend, the working project of the not-for-profit organisation Winchester Science Foundation. Over three days people of all ages interacted with fun science demonstrations, information stands and a varied programme of science talks. Our libraries’ fine selections of scientific books e-books and e-magazines had never been more popular!

Now in its sixth year, Winchester Science Festival seeks to inform, engage and entertain the general public with fun and cutting edge science communication and education. A big focus of the festival is to inspire young minds so Friday is Families Day, where this focus takes priority, while throughout the weekend under-19s have free entry to all talks. Winchester Discovery Centre staff enjoyed the science and technology choices for young summer reads!

The festival is also a site for Hampshire-based scientific and technological services and institutions to promote themselves and the world-leading ingenuity right on our doorstep. Representatives provided a range of fun demonstrations and interactive exhibits, including chemical science experiments, dry ice, and electrical demonstrations as well as a volcano-shaped pinball feature demonstrating the potential of stem cells in healthcare. Mini Professors, who run classes in Winchester and Basingstoke Discovery Centres, also promoted the fun science offers even at preschool age.

The weekend opened with 3 sold-out events on Friday. Dr Ben Littlefield’s Festival Opener demonstrations of the explosive chemical processes of life – with audience participation, but not to be tried at home! Science presenter and rapper Jon Chase continued the high energy performance, the audience joined in with his fun and fact-filled raps to explore some of the norms and extremes of the solar system.

On Saturday the wet weather arrived, but the Discovery Centre provided the perfect option to see the festival and continue with Summer Reading Challenge 2017! And there’s still time to sign up at your local library and get started.

The Animal Agents theme was extended to science with Dr Seshadri Nadathur’s ‘A Cosmic Detective Story’, looking to the night sky to be a cosmic detective yourself. Dr Lucie Green, the first female presenter of the BBC’s Sky At Night series and leading solar scientist, described ‘Our Brilliant Sun’ as we know it and as we may come to know it with future space missions. On Sunday Carrie Anne Philbin from the Raspberry Pi Foundation spoke about Digital Making: Creativity and project-based learning with Raspberry Pi, which related heavily to Hampshire Libraries’ upcoming projects and courses in two branch Makery studios.

This was the perfect reminder that the Hampshire library-based science and technology fun continues throughout the summer and beyond. Follow Fleet and Fareham’s Makery pages and sign up at http://unbouncepages.com/the-makery/ to find out more.


Featured image credit: Dave Hughes, Hampshire Skeptics.