Parent reading groups: Promoting adult literacy, wellbeing and reading role models

This article was first published in CILIP’s PMLG Access Journal Issue 7 2015. All rights @Knightystar (Stella Chevalier).


Carshalton%20Library%20pre%20school%20parents%20book%20groupParent reading groups: Promoting adult literacy, wellbeing and reading role models.

Reading groups for parents – benefitting parents and their families

There are many literacy initiatives emphasizing the importance of parents reading to their children daily. Whilst this is important for the child, what about the parents? Do they read themselves or even like reading?

In Higashino’s recent crime fiction book, Malice (pg 42), character Nonoguchi bemoans the lack of reading parents:

“…that the decline in reading among children was largely the fault of their parents. Parents these days don’t read books themselves, but they feel they should make their children read. Since they aren’t readers, however, they have no idea what to give their children….


A recent report from the National Literacy Trust highlights the importance of parents as reading role models to children, especially for children ages 7-15 “This survey highlights the continuing importance of parents in the life of children and teenagers. Parents are not only role models in a general sense but are also the prime figures who can inspire reading. Almost without exception, every breakdown of the data found that family members, normally parents, were the most likely role models for that group of children” (Clark, Osborne and Dugdale 2009)(1).

So why are public libraries not emphasizing the importance of reading for parents? Especially if evidence shows that they are the biggest role model to their children. Many parents want to relax at the end of a busy day and may feel they only have energy to sit in front of a screen. Yet the benefits of encouraging parents to regularly read are significant, especially for wellbeing. A recent study through the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of uninterrupted reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68% (2) With recent Reading Agency research (3) highlighting the wellbeing and educational benefits reading for pleasure brings.

A double whammy: encouraging parents to regularly read can improve their wellbeing, and indirectly support their children as reading role models into their teens.

Libraries offering support to parent-readers benefit the parents and indirectly in the longer term, their children. Parents visiting libraries with their preschool children for rhyme times and craft events discover that the library is a safe space in their community, providing young children with free educational support. So why not provide reading groups to these parents, who would benefit themselves by reading and also aid their children’s reading habits.

Parent book clubs run throughout UK public libraries in many forms including the Babes in Arms group run at Sanderstead Library through Croydon libraries and Books With Buggies run through Devon libraries.

In this article I will summarise the parent book club I formed at the London Borough of Sutton Library Service: The Preschool Parents Book Club.

This article includes points for consideration and useful tools that have assisted in allowing me to maintain a vibrant and lively reading group for parent of preschool aged children in the London Borough of Sutton that has been running now for over three years.

The formation of the preschool parents’ book club: A daytime book club

Caring for preschool children is a demanding around the clock job. Combining their care with juggling older children, jobs and busy lives, this specific reading group needed to fit in around those parental time constraints.

Our group started meeting once a month on a Friday morning. Following discussions with parents after library rhyme time, parents felt that Friday mornings were the least time-pressured morning of the week when the majority of interested parents could attend. The time 10.30 – 11.30am allowed parents to drop off school aged children off before coming to the club. It also allowed the meeting to take place before lunchtime and hungry children demands!

Whilst the club generally meets on the last Friday of every month, meetings avoid half terms and school holidays to cater for family commitments. Meeting dates are agreed 2-3 months ahead, with members notified of future dates through library events leaflets and social media sources such as the library’s facebook page and the book club’s specifically created goodreads site which members also join when they start the group. Virtual presence increases continuity for busy parents.

Two books at the ‘heart’ of the book club. Book 1: Quick Reads and short stories


To cater for varying levels of reading ability and time constraints, two books are available every month to read. Parents are asked to read at least one of the books for discussion at the next meeting.

One book is a normal book club sized text, however, differing from a normal book club, we also offer a second, short book, usually a quick read book that would take an average reader about 1 hour to complete, or a parent of a preschool child up to one month. This means that members attending the next meeting have read one book ready for discussion. This keeps book discussions at the heart of every meeting rather than it becoming a child focused playgroup set in the library. Our library service already has plenty of opportunities for parents to meet with other parents for child centred activities but this book club is special as it allows the parents some ‘me’ time to talk about books and keep them at the heart of the meeting and their own reading focused even with child related derailments.

For the first 6 months, the Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge (Now Reading Ahead) was used as a way to add incentive to parents to continue reading and keep coming to the first six meetings. It also meant that if they couldn’t finish a normal book-club sized read, they were not put off reading and could still finish a book to discuss at the next meeting. Ensuring a quick read book had been completed allowed parents to slowly get back into reading again.


Many members ‘broke-the-ice’ by discussing the quick read, highlighting that it was the first book many had completed since having their most recent child. A few members commented on how, by finishing a whole book, it has given them the confidence and desire to make time for reading again.


Giving members the choice of two books means that reading is also differentiated, working with parental time constraints and reader ability. Parents can therefore choose which book they want to read or feel they have time to complete for discussion at next month’s meeting.

Keeping books at the heart of this group also means that new members can join in at any time by collecting either both or one of the books they want ready for the next meeting.

Book 2: the normal sized book club book including new books, reviews and Cityread London

To keep parents interest, the longer book choice is chosen from a range of fiction genres and non-fiction books as a way of challenging the club members. These books are chosen to tie-in with current reading trends and include books recently turned into films, new book as offered to book groups through The Reading Agency Book Club Noticeboard, recent award winning books and for the last three years our March/April book has been the Cityread London book:

Author events

Author events usually run in the evening and for many parents, this opportunity cannot happen due to child care and juggling that busy life! Our group has managed to meet authors through literary links, including a day time visit from Sophie Hannah, a Zadie Smith book club event and organising a virtual Q & A session with author Katarina Bivald. Having read their books prior to these events members felt this was a special highlight and gave them the incentive to complete reading a longer book.

Virtual author visits works well with daytime reading groups, can be easy to arrange, convenient to both author and parent-reader and connects authors to their audience.


Social media tools supporting parent book clubs: Facebook, goodreads and The Reading Agency


Because children and best laid plans can go awry, a ‘virtual’ replica group runs via the goodreads social site to support the actual club. Our goodreads site is a closed group coordinated by the same facilitator as the actual group, allowing members to feel confident that they know the people interacting on this virtual site. It allows members to rate and review the books they have read, to explore further reading, especially if they like certain authors, take part in polls, and identify dates for future meetings and events. In short, it acts as a continual base to notify members and for members to notify the facilitator about the book club. Tools include reminders to members to reply if they can attend. As a facilitator, this is very useful as it allows me to order in the correct number of books prior to the meeting. It also allows members to notify if they are going to pick up the books later on.

The layout of the goodreads site is a useful continuity tool for parents. Being very visual and easy to follow, they are able to see from the first webpage future meetings dates and current books being read. They can also write reviews/ rate books that they might not have had time to talk about at the last meeting through being absent or time/child constraints.

To date, five members have taken time away from the club and returned to re-join the club. They were able to use this social media tool as a way of catching up where they left off.

Facebook – monthly updates and interactions

To promote the club to non-members and remind members of future events regular posts are mentioned on our library’s Facebook page too:

Slide16 (2)

The Reading Agency – Being a listed reading group on The Reading Agency’s ‘Find a reading group’ site, allows people to find us if new to the area. The site also give us access to a range of reading group offers to use in our group and a virtual space to log group book reviews.

Increased use of library resources, parents as role models and developing a family library routine

Members maintain that meetings are important to them as a way of allocating regular library time for their own reading. They confirmed that when they came for meetings they also explored the library for other books either before or after the meeting for themselves as well as their children. This means that the library becomes an important resource regularly visited by families with both children and parents moving more around the library and using more of its resources. Children coming to the meetings become familiar with the wider library surroundings than just the location of the children’s section.

This highlights that a parent-focused book group supports family reading and family library use.


The preschool parents’ book club was established to support parent readers with limited time constraints; to encourage their reading habit giving parents wellbeing benefits and displaying them as reading role models to their children.

Parent reading groups can run during the day, with the timing of the meetings considerate of parental pressures, such as other children, school holidays, school pick up and drop off times.

Offering parents the choice of two books, a longer and a shorter book each month gives parents choice regarding what book they feel they can read in consideration of their own time constraints, reading ability and book variety. It gives the member control of their own reading choice and keeps reading at the heart of the group: Members can all finish one book for future discussions. Books are discussed in consideration of other club members so as not to cause any ‘spoilers’ and to actively encourage parents to keep reading.

Regular meetings facilitated through social media tools keep parents up-to-date with book club information, supporting parents if they miss meetings, allowing continuity and support in their reading.

Encouraging parent readers to public libraries has many benefits including wellbeing by reducing stress, meeting other parents, exploring more of the resources available in their local library and the parents to become reading role models to their children. It can help reignite the reading habit that might have taken a backseat.

One parent recently commented:

I love coming to this group.. It enlivens my brain again to remember what I was once like; it’s stopping my brain from feeling full of cotton wool all the time”.

During the past 3 years over 25 members have registered with the preschool parents’ book club.

Members have left the group due to moving out of the area, going back to work or once their children have started at school.

5 members returned to meetings after an absence of more than 4 months, including 3 parents who returned after having another child.

Current members average around 6-7 people per meeting, sometimes with different members making up the groups compared with the previous month’s members.

Two members come into the London Borough of Sutton from neighbouring Boroughs to attend meetings.

One member said:

“There is nothing like this in our area and I keep telling people about this group. There should be more groups like this.

I couldn’t agree more.

There should.




  1. Reaching Out with Role Models. Role models and young people’s reading (Clark,C, Osborne, S.& Dugdale, G.) April 2009. National Literacy Trust.
  2. “Reading Can Help Reduce Stress” March 30th 2009. The Daily Telegraph
  3. Literature Review: The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment. BOP Consulting. The Reading Agency. June 2015

Thing 23 – yes Thing 23! Making It All Work Together

geralt9301pixabay Photo: public domain image/geralt/

Hooray for Hootsuite!

With all the social media and web tools being used by the same person/work place, social media management tools are an excellent way to view and manage through one provider. I have used Hootsuite at work over the past eight months and this allows me a convenient format to view the many social media feeds as well as get updated regarding comments that require response. This has been especially useful with a personal hootsuite when following the recent CILIP Conference virtually. Being unable to attend this conference but having Hootsuite open allowed me to view feeds to my twitter/Facebook feeds on one screen and respond accordingly.

As I have been using Hootsuite longer at work I will describe my experiences of using it in that capacity:

The most useful part to Hootsuite at work is its scheduling facility. This allows the writing of one post to be sent at a specific time and date in the future to all or some of your social media sites. At work, this means posting to Twitter and Facebook. As I have  limited work time available for social media activities and am not always near a computer or a smartphone, advance notice allows the scheduling of a range of posts for events ahead of time and often on days when I am not working, allowing me to feel in social media ‘control’. An example of this includes the four posts I was able to schedule (for a day when I wasn’t working) for last week’s National Poetry Day:

hootsuite scheduling (2)

Caution is required when using scheduling. Once or twice I have added posts on days when events have changed at the last minute, so definitely check  your ‘scheduling site’ on a regular basis to ensure what you are about to post is still relevant.  This problem has to some extent been rectified through checking the scheduling tab first thing in the morning to check what, if any, schedules are due to be posted that day, with certain posts being edited accordingly before the posting time!

Sometimes I find Hootsuite can ‘double post’ – this might be due to the way I have set up the dashboard, so might need to investigate the hootsuite settings. Recently, when viewing Hootsuite posts on the Twitter account, two posts rather than only one arrived, one, being my actual post (with picture) the other being a post saying ‘I have just uploaded a photo to my facebook page’. For Twitter followers, these posts must look impersonal and rather robotic and this might lead to less of a personal and inviting tone to our individual social media sites. I will need to look into rectifying this glitch. It also highlights that whilst allowing you an oversee to your social media tools, it is still important to actually log in at regular times to the individual social media accounts, to check what your followers are viewing, ensuring that your posts are presenting the message you posted in the way you want.

Wow – That’s the end of Rudai 23! I can’t believe it’s all over! What a fantastic course – a MASSIVE thanks to everyone running this course: Kristopher Meen, Mary Murray, Elizabeth Keane Kelly, Niamh O’Donovan, Michelle Breen, Christine Jordan, Siobhan McGuinness, Wayne Gibbons, Emmet Keoghan, Stephanie Ronan and bit thanks to Caroline Rowan who helpful comments on my blogposts have made me think deeper and made me keep on questioning.

You have all been marvellous. Until I can buy you a beer by way of thanks, I am sending you a virtual one – sláinte mhaith!

Thing 22: Mobile Things


 Photo: Jarmoluk/ Licence CC0 1.0

I thought I’d start my penultimate Rudai 23 task with a direct quote from Wayne Gibbon’s Thing 22 blog post:

The Office of Communications (OFCOM) recently described the United Kingdom as a “smartphone society”, where smartphones are now the most popular devices for going online, overtaking laptops which had been the most popular means up until 2014.

90% of people aged between 16 and 24 years  and 50% of people aged between 55 and 64 years own and use smartphones in the UK today.

These facts should be the starting point for mobile technology regarding how public library users engage in gaining their information. Using social media to promote library events through the facebook and twitter apps allow up to date information on events going on at the library to be promoted and although social media managers such as hootsuite assist in posting to all sites, this still takes time, so I can really see the potential of Beacons, allowing people passing on the off chance to be alerted to current events at the library such as story times and lunch time talks/concerts. If the beacon’s range extended just outside the library this might entice people in. It could also assist in alerting users, especially those incapacitated in some way, from making an unwanted journey, such as alerting users to bank holiday closures or the cancellation of a story time. This, would be very useful to users with a heavy child-laden buggy and would reduce the time getting the message ‘out’ through updating different social media status/updates and having to make/ put up physical posters in different locations over a large floor space! However, any additional signing up or tracking via a third party (in addition to joining the library) might put library users from engaging with the service. Beacons look like they will be the way forward and do offer public libraries a lot of potential – I am keen to see how these are utilised as part of the digital tools available to libraries over the forthcoming years.

I decided to see how the Gum app worked to complete the Option 1 task for Thing 22. I was interested to see what sort of comments had been left on the barcodes of the books at work: I downloaded the app and scanned a copy of Games of Thrones but sadly on this particular volume of the series no comments had been left, so I added my own:

gum1gum2 Photos: Knightystar. All Rights Reserved.

I can see that the Gum app could be used (if comments were deleted afterwards) as a useful way to offer library book reviews on books we stock/new books for users with this app – It could also be used on a temporary basis for putting ‘library trail’ clues onto books, especially if we are running a book ‘treasure hunt’ trail for National Libraries Day – it would certainly stop clues being ripped down! However, as there appears to be little to no moderation regarding types of comments left on the bar codes, it could be possible that unwanted comments are discovered, so this app, although promising, might require a certain a level of caution, so that comments seen are not seen as library-affiliated comments. I also wonder how long it will be until Goodreads have a similar app (maybe they do already?) allowing their reader to view reviews in a similar way. This would be a very useful tool for libraries when promoting book displays.

Mobile things, their longevity and how they all link together with other digital devices need to be considered in order to assist in creating a digital library strategy for vibrant, educational and enjoyable libraries of the future. It is for this reason that, having had a quick look, I can see how important 23 mobile things is – but I have a feeling we might be touching on this subject in the last (really? already!) podcast…

Thing 21: Creating Infographics

I love infographics and am always amazed at just how much information they can present on just one slide/piece of paper. One of my favourite is the Murder By Numbers Poirot Infographic used in the publicity campaign for the most recent Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, written by Sophie Hannah in 2014:

PoirotMMSHCB1 infographic

The clarity of the images, the amount of information (verified as accurate data as copyright of Agatha Christie Limited) not only serves to remind the viewer of how many different sources of death Poirot has dealt with ( and hence his rather large back catalogue of stories that everyone should go out and purchase!) it is also a very beautiful and as such, was used in promotional covers/ promotional bookmarks during the book launch.

So infographics have a very valuable use, for promotions and presentations with the potential of communicating a lot of statistics/information in a visual way, improving the transfer of information and knowledge through a very eye-catching visual medium making information more visually accessibly very quickly.

Creating an infographic

I have a very basic, minimal style when it comes to posters and displays and I knew I would continue in a similar style creating an infographic for Thing 21. This was a rather daunting prospect as I haven’t used these web tools before (although I haven’t attempted an infographic on powerpoint either!) This Rudai 23 course has given me the confidence to at least try a technology that I would otherwise have shied away from – so giving myself a couple of hours, I decided to ‘roll up my sleeves’ and get stuck in!

My first attempt is VERY simple, using age data from a recent pilot adult reading challenge I conducted. Whilst this data is limited (only focusing on sex and age group of participants) descriptions of the types of books participants had ‘read’ were mentioned by some, so whilst I was unable to quantify this data, infographics allowed me to display this information too.

This turned out to be really useful as it allowed me to display both quantitative and qualitative data in once place, summarising the main results of the pilot study and showing the whole picture for easy discussion at the next team meeting .

Making the infographic

I decided to make my first infographic using the free version of in order to save the document in both PDF and jpg formats for use in a wide range of situations.

I found the instructions relatively straight forward after watching the Vimeo infographic clip. It still took a while to get to grips with the format, so there was plenty of deleting and experimenting going on! The range of graphs, images and text choice is rather basic, so I can understand why people upgraded to the PRO level to get more choice, but the basic facilities allowed me to at least play around with the style to get a feel of making an infograph. When I have more time I will explore the pictochart  web tool too, to find which one I prefer.

The experience was totally different to making a poster or display as it wasn’t until I set out the data that I realised  I needed to work out how best to visualise this on the page to allow the information displayed to be clearly understood:

VERY basic using only one source of data from a recent library pilotTake 6 summary

This is very basic, and reflecting on what I have produced as my first infograph, I think I might have altered the presentation now as I am far from happy with it even though it displays all the information – I am not sure I used enough directional arrows to keep the eyes visually following the direction of the data.  ‘Thing 21’ has highlighted the benefits of incorporating infographics into presentations, posters and displays as they are an excellent way (when they are made well!), of  conveying a lot of data visually in one space. This would certainly come in handy as a form of presentation at future meetings and for use as posters for displays such as National Libraries Day and in library advocacy work, highlighting the different ways the different number of people in our community use the library.

The web tools for creating infographics certainly had a versatility that I enjoyed using, but as both web tools were online with limited graphics (unless you upgrade) I think for now, I will re-evaluate how I can use powerpoint for infographics; mainly because I have been using powerpoint for years, I am comfy in creating documents quickly using their facilities plus they have a wide range of text, shapes that I can use without having to pay for upgrades. Also, with current financial pressures I’m not sure I can support additional web tool costs unless there was a specific campaign in which a lot of data was to be used and needed conveying through using these web tools – Oh powerpoint! How can I have overlooked your infographic powers! Something I aim to rectify in the future!

Thing 20: Presentations

Evidence 2.a Preschool Parents Bookclub presentation updated2015        Slide 1

I was asked by my line manager to give a presentation on the parent book club I set up and run on the 18th June 2013 as part of Stellar Libraries Swap Shop at Finsbury Park Library, held to share ideas and case studies for library staff responsible for reader development.

As the information in these slides is now over three years old, and I have written a more up to date an article on this (PMLG Access Journal ISSUE 7 Autumn 2015).

I will include some of these slides as photographs to give a flavour of the presentation by way of illustrating my specific experience of giving a presentation using slides.

Presentation considerations

I knew I would be presenting a case study that I had initiated and set up and as such I was passionate about telling its story. This really assisted me in feeling confident from the start that I could complete a relatively successful presentation despite my reservations of standing up and talking in a public arena. Time constraints and the audience were bigger factors in making my presentation successful at getting across my message and I knew I would have to overcome problems I had with these prior to making my slides and forming my presentation.


Initially I felt daunted by the prospect as I knew the audience would consist of peers. Knowing that they were attending this meeting because they dealt with reader development in public libraries allowed me to focus the presentation on specifics that would be of interest to the audience, such as funding, logistics and the benefits of/successfully replicating a similar project.


Time constraints was my other concern. I knew I had a 20 minute presentation slot plus questions and answers and I wanted to include slides that clearly got across the point I was trying to make within that time frame.

Although I had a case study as the main ‘story’ of my presentation, I needed the slides to tell that story but include the important points that my audience might be able to utilise. I ended up with around 20 slides (showing one slide every minute should I need to), these were mainly pictures/screen grabs from social media or the virtual book site with a small amount of relevant accompanying text important to the presentation/ flow of the story. I limited the amount of text included in the slides to only what I felt was relevant. I wanted my slides to be engaging and factual, especially so because my timeslot was just before a break and I didn’t want the audience losing interest half way through!

Time also included pace at which I speak! When I get nervous, I know I ramble very quickly and mumble and this whole presentation could have been over with in 5 minutes with the audience not having heard anything I had said!.  To allow me to feel more confident, I ended up scripting my presentation and practicing it (with notes on when to change slides) and time myself – It was important for me in this time, not to just rattle through the presentation, but to include pauses, which not only slowed down my presentation, but allowed me to take a few deep breaths and calm down! I ended up practicing my speech so that I knew it inside out. This helped with allowing me to relax when I was on the stage and knowing which slide to click next. It also gave me confidence that I knew where I could locate certain slides if they were mentioned in the Q&A session at the end for an easy flow of communication between the audience.

Slide set out

I tried to make my slides clear and attractive for the audience to view. Because my presentation dealt with a book club that had virtual elements to it, I ensured that when I discussed the virtual part to the book club, all these slides were set out looking the same (all containing the goodreads logo in the top right hand corner, so as to visually differentiate the slides from the non-virtual content of the presentation. See slides below:)

Slide 13 and 15 displaying specific screengrab information to support information in presentation


The slides were divided into clear sections that flowed. As my presentation concerned a case study I was able to structure the presentation and slides to include an introduction, aims of the case study followed by  thoughts on the case study and a concluding summary. I needed to ensure that I had enough time to cover all my points, and most importantly, have enough time at the end for questions and answers

Slide16 Slide 16 Using photos, screengrab and  limited supporting text

Knowing my own weaknesses regarding giving presentations (nerves, not liking to be in front of a large audience), It was important for me to feel as calm and  in as  much control as possible.

Repeated practice of the presentation was important to me and I think the key to me enjoying facilitating the presentation. Prior to the day I even repeated the presentation a few times in front of the mirror to focus on how I would appear to my audience as I wanted to ensure that my posture was friendly and engaging and therefore the focus was on my slides and my accompanying words rather than my awkwardness up on the stage. During the presentation I made sure I moved about on the stage and made (albeit fleeting) eye contact with my audience (event though for the most part I was talking to the blank wall at the back of the room that I pretended was my friend in the pub!) to allow me to engage with my audience as much as possible.

Overall the practice gave me more confidence and this made giving the presentation a more enjoyable for myself. I will attempt to use a similar method in future presentations ( and hope that I’m given enough time to practice beforehand)

What I have not shown is that my final slide that remained on screen contained my contact details and information to allow audience members that didn’t want to ask questions at the time, a way to contact me afterwards. This was useful as I gained 2 enquiring emails a few days after my presentation was given.

Thing 19: The Legal Side of Things


Thing 19 comes aptly for me on the heels of my Thing 18 blog, especially after finding my own library service had differing levels of protection on their Flickr images be they from the library (all rights reserved) or the archive (Creative Commons Licence, some rights reserved).

Photo of Miss Biddulph from The Past on Glass at Sutton Archives CC BY-NC 2.0

I will need to investigating this topic in greater detail through the useful links Caroline mentions in the Thing 19 post in order to find out the reasons why there are different levels of protection within my workplace on their photographs on Flickr. This is possibly linked to the different roles the photographs have. Since Thing 18 I have discovered that people who initially set up the Library Flickr account (All Rights reserved) have left the service and the photos were believed to be for official publicity use. The Archives (Creative Commons Licence, Some Rights Reserved) allow for some access to their photos. I am yet to find answers to this question, so will investigate and update this blog when I discover more!

Learning from my own mistake!

Due to a misunderstanding, I have personally dealt with seeing my own photos copyrighted under someone else’s name, from which they have been able to gain financial revenue. This situation has since been rectified, but has made me acutely aware about the photos I put up on my own blog or indeed use at work, to ensure that the Creative Commons licence is taken into account, and that learning through my own experience I give others the appropriate recognition for their work. I try to ensure that the source of my photo/information is easy to find, and include hyperlinked text close to the source of the material I have used to allow readers access to the original site I got the photo/material from as well as link to the appropriate Creative Commons licence deed.

This has made me very apprehensive about using photos from other sources, so if I am in any doubt about an image, I tend to use my own photos and steer well clear of using anyone elses! I realise that understanding more about the legal side of things will give me more confidence in using and acknowledging others work, which in turn will allow an improved transfer of information and ideas (as well as make for more interesting blog posts)

I have a great deal to learn on this subject, but discovering sites offering materials under public domain may be a way forward in gaining confidence with increasing the number of photos and materials I use in my blog.

Further investigation is required!

All photos (unless stated) come from the British Library Flickr Public Domain photos

Thing 18 Communicating through Photographs or A Picture is Worth a Thousand Retweets

Sharing Jodi's Library Poem from Flickr

Sharing Jodi’s Library Poem taken close to my library from Flickr

Poem Pavement near Sutton Library by Jodi CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


I was able to locate that my library did have a presence on Flickr which included a selection of photos – all of which were under copyright, so I am unable to share any of those photos here. It was of interest to me that my library service has had this account, consisting of 40 photos taken in 2009. No further photos appear to have been added since which leads me to believe this was set up by staff members that have since left the service. I am not sure the specific reason the library no longer appears to use their Flickr account unless this was in agreement with Sutton Council social media policy. I will need to investigate further.

Having a Flickr account that was more  up-to-date and interactive would be an excellent way of visually collating all our activities (such as summer reading challenge photos) quickly and efficiently, which we could then publicize through our other social media pages. Dublin City Library’s Photostream shows this very well and on one screen you get the sense of a dynamic buzzing library service.

Whilst the library doesn’t appear to use Flickr at present, our Archive Service has a very active Flickr account, through which it visually record it’s Past on Glass project


Their Flickr account allows a degree of sharing of these historically interesting photos taken by David Knights-Whittome (1876 – 1943) using the Creative Commons Licence  and includes a photos showing Carshalton Convent (St Philomena’s School), Cycle Proficiency, 8 Jul 1907

Carshalton Convent (St Philomena's School), Cycle Proficiency, 8 Jul 1907

Carshalton Convent (St Philomena’s School), Cycle Proficiency, 8 Jul 1907

The Past on Glass at Sutton Archives CC BY-NC 2.0

Displaying their Flickr account  through their interesting and active blog, our archive department are publicising their work to a wide audience, bringing local history to life whilst at the same time promoting their varied work and preserving this interesting and delicate archive.


Compared to Flickr that is great for embedding into blog posts or for the more professional photographs, Instagram seems a more instant visual media for getting information quickly to followers, promoting participation. It is a much quicker way of getting the images  ‘up and out there’ through twitter and facebook. It would allow us to snap some wonderful shots showing our ‘behind-the-scenes’ work as and when things happened and for us to interact and participate with our users quickly through visual means. For example, when we run book events and have copies of books to give away or to enter competitions or during live events such as concerts or performances to be able to link and promote quickly and effectively allowing direct participation from our library users.

I did a similar thing with the arrival of ‘Go Set A Watchman’ earlier this year but it took me a while during my own time to save the photo from my phone, to upload via the computer to the various library twitter and facebook feeds and it generated a very high rate of views, so to be able to do this quickly through an instagram account linked to our social media feeds, we could attract more followers and more virtual participation as and when things happen.

Again, discussion as to the social media policy used would be necessary in order to consider starting a library instagram account.

I will link the wonderful British Library Instagram account displaying just how powerful it is to have a visual account of what amazing things go on at your library