Tuesday July 14th- Today we ventured into London Proper to visit the Library at the Barbican. The Barbican is Europe's largest multi-arts venue, it holds a conference center, several apartment complexes, a library, movie theaters and various restaurants. It is also the home to the London Symphony Orchestra. For a majority of its long life, the Barbican was not been a place one wished to associate him/herself with, recently, however, that has all changed. Originally built by the Romans to protect their land, it was home to many thieves in the 16th century, and after that was designated a place for "non-conformists". Over the centuries the Barbican saw thousands of deaths due to plague and the Great Fire of London, and during WWII much of the Barbican was destroyed during the bombings.
Over the past few decades, the Barbican has been built up to be the beautiful cultural center it is today. In the summer rooftops and balconies of the flats host beautiful flowers and music can often be heard throughout the grounds.
Of course the aspect of the Barbican that I found most interesting was the Children's Services section of the Library. Upon arrival readers are greeted by a colorful bulletin board full of information and familiar picturebook characters (pictured above). During our visit we caught the librarian and her assistants fervently preparing for the national summer reading program. This years theme centers around fantasy and is titled "Quest Seekers", the program sounded fascinating, and quite similar to programs I've encountered in the States. The students receive a kit when they sign up to participate in the program and are rewarded with small prizes and stickers as they progress through their reading. The Barbican expects at least 350 participants this year. With all of the festive decorations around the room it seems impossible not to be excited about this program and subsequently, summer reading. Once inside patrons encounter a large dragon painted on the window of the children's room, throughout the summer children will notate their completed summer reading on the dragon's "scales". It looks like it will be a fun and exciting summer for the patrons of the Barbican Children's Library. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable visit.