Level Up at Wester Hailes

lvlup5Level Up launched last year in Wester Hailes Library as a way to tackle low levels of reading among teenagers using the library. The library adopted an innovative approach to try to boost the reading habits among this group which tied reading into the more familiar territory of computer games.

We caught up with the level uppers at their AGM (yep, they take this seriously) as they plan the year ahead. A group of around 14 teenagers sit enthusiastically pitching ideas to Library Officer Tony Stewart for future activities and reward nights which include games tournaments, minecraft sessions to pizza nights and archery. The caveat being these must be earned through the accumulation of xp points they gain from reading.

lvlUp2Tony explains: “We brought  these two worlds together and in order to keep it as a group we made it weekly and based it around interesting activities for them to do and at the same time encourage them to take out books.  Gaining XP points as they take out books then creates a sense of achievement through reading.”

“The XP awarded to a book is based simply on how long the book is. Each list includes   5 short books/graphic novels, some of which are dyslexic friendly, and 5 longer books. This is to give those who have issues with reading the option of an easier read. Reading the shorter books means reading more books to reach the level cap but this adds to the sense of achievement in completing the level, encouraging them to try a longer book in the next.”

Like any game Level Up starts on “LvL1″. This consists of a list of 10 books, each with its own amount of XP reward. Once the player reaches the 1000 XP cap they can then move onto “LvL2” which has its own list of books and so on. Along the way the readers are given stickers to add to their reading journal to document their journey.

lvlUp4Tony says this approach has made a real difference: “We have seen higher borrowing levels in all the kids who take part and greater self-confidence and more enthusiasm for the library in general.”

“They all seem to have a feeling of ownership for the group as well which is one of the things we aimed to achieve. This has bonded the group quite tightly together.  They come to the weekly meetings now and take part in activities and now all leave with a few books tucked under their arms to get their xp points.

We have some who aren’t confident readers who are taking out books. They aren’t taking out tonnes or reading them all but even if they read a few I feel it makes a difference and we are making some progress.”

Everyone is also encouraged to share their new love of reading and discuss what they’ve been reading. This can take place during one of their weekly sessions or through a micro book review which they post to the Level Up twitter feed.  During our visit everyone is busy writing a love letter to the library, an event promoted as part of Book Week Scotland.

LevelUP Letters

Some of the boys taking part are happy to point out the benefits of the group:

Alex: I’ve been doing this for over a year. It’s great taking part in all the activities and games. I like building up my points and collecting the stickers and achievements for reading. It’s  good to come along to a group where you are rewarded for learning.

Daniel: You get different points for different books so there’s always something you can find to suit you. I’m currently on 595 xp.  I definitely take out more books now and where I never used to read much before and now sit at home and read for ages.

With the future year getting planned out so diligently it looks like Level Up has become a firm fixture in the regular events at Wester Hailes calendar and  is likely to expand out to some of the other libraries in the city.  If you are interested in taking part, ask in your local library for more details.

Follow Level Up and read reviews on twitter: @LVLUPxp

Calling all book groups!

The latest additions to our book group collections are guaranteed to stimulate lots of thought, discussion, and debate.

You can borrow up to 15 copies of any of the titles below for your book group to borrow for up to 6 weeks at a time. Find out how – and download the complete list featuring more than 200 other titles – here.

A Girl is a half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Experimental, award-winning insight into a young woman’s relationship with her severely brain-damaged brother.

Look Who’s Back by Timor Vermes
Berlin, 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of ground, alive and well.

The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne
A Moroccan holiday goes horribly wrong.

Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding
Story of the British War Crimes Investigation Team and the hunt for the senior Nazi officials responsible for the atrocities of Auschwitz.

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Life below stairs in Georgian England.

Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healy
A mystery story with a difference, narrated by a ninety-year old with dementia.

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
Desire turns to dangerous obsession during a family holiday.

All the Birds Singing by Evie Wyld
Something is killing the sheep, but what is it? There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and man, and rumours of an obscure, formidable beast.

The Circle by Dave Eggers
Mae Holland is hired to work for the world’s most powerful internet company. But a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

World War One Fiction (available from September)
15 individual titles. Choose one each then share your reading experiences with the rest of your group.

World War One Non- Fiction (available from September)
15 individual titles including histories, biographies and classics. Choose one each then share your reading experiences with the rest of your group.

Join the Big Library Read

Join the biggest book group in the world and take part in the Overdrive Big Library Read!

All library members will be able to borrow and read the eBook, A Pedigree to Die For by Laurien Berenson, from the 3rd-18th June by visiting  our Overdrive site.

This unusual mystery novel is set in the cut-throat world of dog shows! The apparent heart attack that killed kennel owner Max Turnbull looks suspiciously like foul play as his prize winning pedigree poodle is also now missing. Melanie Travis is talked into investigating her uncle’s death so poses as a poodle breeder. She soon discovers, in the championship dog world, the instinct for survival, and winning, can prove fatal.

During the Big Library Read there is unlimited simultaneous access to this title. Why not get together with your friends or family and have a mini book group. Overdrive ebooks can be read on a wide range of computers, tablets, mobile phones and ebook readers (see Overdrive information page for more details).

 

Book group for parents with young children launches at Oxgangs Library

babyOxgangsOxgangs Library have just launched a new book group aimed at parents with young babies.  If you’ve been held back from attending a book group because of childcare arrangements then this book group could be exactly what you are looking for.

Come along to Oxgangs Library and meet like minded parents have a chat about books and reading. These friendly fun sessions will include short stories, poetry and short readings. There also be time to share books and rhymes with baby too.

Forthcoming sessions will take place on March 17 and 31, April 28 and May 12.

For more information email Carol Marr at Oxgangs Library or phone 0131 529 5546.

How libraries help learners

This week is Adult Learners’ Week. What’s it all about?

Adult Learners’ Week is a national celebration of the benefits of lifelong learning. We’re getting involved with writing workshops, singing, cooking, and facebook sessions – for details see our events calendar.

But why are libraries getting involved?

Public libraries have always been a source of information, knowledge and culture for all. They are spaces where anyone can go without feeling pressure to buy anything, and without feeling judged for what items they want to read.

Library services are crucial to adults who wish learn at whatever level, be it to improve their literacy or embark on a research project, through formal schemes or simply for the pleasure of learning something new.

Any individual can borrow any item they need, at no (or very little) immediate cost – especially relevant at a time when many people have less disposable income.

Also, for many adult learners, schools are associated with negative learning experiences whereas libraries are often viewed as more neutral spaces and therefore perhaps more conducive to adults wanting to learn.

So what do libraries do to support adult learners?

Lots! Here are just a few examples:

Our fantastic  Edinburgh Reads programme of events offers opportunities for adults to interact with authors and topics in an informal and stimulating way.

Some authors have engaged specifically with adults discovering reading for the first time. For example, crime writer Lin Anderson’s short novel Blood Red Roses, published specifically with emergent readers in mind, was read by several adult literacy groups in central Edinburgh who met the author for a chat over coffee and cake. This provided a real opportunity for personal growth in confidence and enjoyment of reading.

The annual ‘Six Book Challenge’ provides another way of supporting and encouraging emergent readers to discover the joy and satisfaction of reading for pleasure.

Since doing the  Challenge I have seen my reading get better. I am on my fourth book and did not read much before.’ (Sue)

I like to read to my children now, we help each other.‘(Chris)

Perhaps one of  the most popular ways Edinburgh  Libraries support adult learners is through our LearnIT Project. For complete beginners, we provide free informal and very supportive support in using computers. Adults can attend classes, pop into a drop- in LearnIT Lab, or meet with a volunteer IT Buddy for one to one tuition.

I was thrilled to be able to buy a washing machine online for nearly  £70 less than in the shops!’ Joan, LearnIT student.

And of course, our growing library of online learning resources provide support to adults learning at home or on the move.

Happy Adult Learners’ Week!

New titles to borrow for your book group

deadman's pedalBook groups in Edinburgh now have an even greater choice of free books to borrow as we’ve extended our list of book group collections to include 173 titles.

New additions like Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Are you my mother? and John O’Farrell’s The man who forgot his wife have generated strong reactions from critics and are sure to do so among book groups as well. Throw in a few classics, some thought-provoking non-fiction and the cream of contemporary Scottish novelists and you’ve got the perfect mix of books for your group to read, debate and discuss.

And you can join in the conversation right here right now, on Tales of One City.

Each title on our list of books for book groups has a link to a page where you can see what other readers thought of the book as well as submit your own thoughts and opinions.

So whether you want to stick up for The Elegance of the Hedgehog, share your thoughts on Mr Chartwell or join the Shirley Jackson love-in … you can do so now.

How to borrow books for your book group

If you’re a member of a book group in Edinburgh you can borrow up to fifteen copies of a particular book for your book group to use for 6 weeks. It’s so easy, and even better, it’s all free!

Here’s how:

  • Choose a person from your bookgroup to join as a Library Book Group member.
  • Get a Book Group ticket at your nearest library.
  • Choose the book you’d like to read – take your pick from these titles
  • Call 0131 242 8046 or email annie.bell@edinburgh.gov.uk to book the collection.
  • Pick up and return collections to your nearest library.

If you already have a library card you can still use it for your own personal reading. The book group ticket is an extra card for borrowing multiple copies of the same book.

The Big Book Group Quiz is BACK!

It’s on! In association with Blackwell’s Bookshop we’re looking for the smartest book group in town. Could it be yours? And even if it’s not, we guarantee fun fun fun finding out.

Register your team of five bookish quizzers and maybe you’ll be the ones to take the title from reigning champs Portobello Book Group.

The quiz takes place at Central Library on Thursday 13th December, 6.30 – 7.45pm – so why not make it your book group’s Christmas night out? Call 0131 242 8046 or email annie.bell@edinburgh.gov.uk reserve your team’s place. If you’re struggling to get five people don’t worry, we’ll get you sorted out with a team.

Finally, just to get you in training, who said “A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke?” (Here’s a clue. It was a man…)