Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

We just finished Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. Yaa is Ghanaian American, born in Ghana, brought up in the USA. This is her second book.

Most of the group enjoyed the read, and even those who were less enthusiastic still found something to admire in it. It is an easy read – and the short chapters were a definite plus!
It covers many themes, ranging from drug addiction, the challenges of assimilation in a different culture, racism, prejudice, mental health, religion, friendships, neuroscience and “fitting in”. Some thought there were too many strands to the novel and that it attempted too much. Others found lots to enjoy in the exploration of these themes and were encouraged to try the novelist’s first book, Homecoming. Overall, it was a positive, thumbs-up for Transcendent Kingdom.

Most of us got our copies from West End Lane Books, and we thank them for ordering it in for us.

Next month’s read could not be more different. We’re onto Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. It will be a re-read for some, but new to many.

Happy Birthday, Willesden Green Pop-Up!

It’s the second birthday of our pop-up library at Willesden Green Station. Yes, it’s been two whole years since TfL allowed us to install our shelves and publicity materials at the station. In that time, we estimate we’ve placed over 1000 books. The library gets an approximately 500 visits a week, which is pretty amazing. Most of the stock is provided by Sonja, who also houses our larger collection of around 15,000 books in her garage, and has done for the last four years. The stock is topped up by donations to Sonja (who can also arrange to collect books locally), and by kind and generous supporters who drop books off on their way through the library.

In the time since the Willesden Green pop up was established, two more outposts have sprung up – one in Cricklewood Thameslink station forecourt, and the other in Kilburn Station. Both are restocked by volunteers, and are also very busy and much appreciated by visitors.

Recently, we’ve noticed that replenished stock has been cleared out very quickly – possibly by people not borrowing the books to read, but taking them to sell. There’s not a lot we can do about this, as the books are open access, but if you spot this kind of thing happening, please let the station staff know. Be assured that no-one from the library organisation will ever clear books out of the pop up libraries – we have enough books to stock our library when it finally opens, honest!

In order to help reduce theft, we’re thinking of introducing a stickering system, to make the books less saleable, but this will be labour intensive. If you’ve a better idea, please share! We really want the library to carry on, even after the permanent library is restored opposite Gladstone Park as we know it’s very much valued by residents and commuters. Please help us by continuing to borrow and return books and keeping your library alive.

American School in London Generously Supports Cricklewood Library

The American School in London has been a very generous supporter of our efforts to re-launch the new Cricklewood Library. We wish to specifically thank Joanne Morris (Lower School Librarian) and Karen Field (Head Librarian) for the donation of many quality books and resources that will benefit library patrons of all ages. These materials are either duplicates, donations they do not require or resources that are no longer needed in the school libraries and include many current titles in very good condition.

In addition, we wish to thank Brandon Block, Director of Service Learning, who has shown great interest and support and is looking for ways that the ASL service learning programmes could be of help to Cricklewood Library. In the past ASL volunteer students, families and staff have participated in Community Service Days when they painted, installed shelving and helped to maintain the outside of the old library. ASL Parents Melissa Janssen and Lisa Kolaja, Coordinators of The Friends of the Libraries at ASL, have also expressed interest in identifying ways that they can support Cricklewood Library.

One of the most significant contributions has come in the form of IT equipment that is no longer needed at ASL but will be of tremendous use to the Library. These desktop computers and laptops will be used at the circulation desk for the library management systems, and also by library patrons. We would like to give a special word of thanks to Ash Lazar, Technology Manager, and Russell Layton, former Director of Technology, who have made possible the donation of this useful IT equipment.

In-kind support and donations such as these items gifted by the American School in London, a UK charitable institution in its own right, will enable Cricklewood Library to become a vibrant and state-of-the-art centre for all of the community. We welcome and look forward to further collaboration with the ASL community.

These donations have been made possible by a member of the Friends of Cricklewood Library who has used his contacts at ASL to help to facilitate these donations. We hope that other supporters of the Friends of Cricklewood Library will consider how their personal knowledge and professional relationships might benefit the new library.