Libraries Make A Difference

Delivering Portsmouth Library and Archive Service
April-June 2021

Libraries reopened on 12th April

All Portsmouth Libraries were delighted to open their doors and welcome the public back for browsing on 12th April. During the January-April closures the libraries were open for click and collect and essential IT use only so it was great to be able to open up more services in the second week of the Easter holidays.

Central Library decorated the children’s library with a circus theme for the occasion with vintage circus posters from the city’s Archive Collection included.
Carnegie Library staff also refreshed its displays with a wonderful sunflower display and new book displays.
We received some lovely feedback on Facebook from residents happy to be back in the library:
“We had a great time visiting as a family today in North End, taking home 6 children’s books. Two very happy little girls”.

Michael Morpurgo: The Boy Giant:
This is an initiative that I am so pleased to be a part of. It’s through books and libraries that many of us first meet these people, and first discover that they are simply the same as us and that we need each other. Michael Morpurgo

3,000 schoolchildren will be taking part in a ‘Big City Read’ during the second half of the summer term, reading ‘Boy Giant’ by Michael Morpurgo.

Boy Giant is inspired by the classic story of Gulliver’s Travels as the main character Omar and his mother are forced to leave their home in Afghanistan and travel across the sea to Europe.

33 Portsmouth schools have signed up for the initiative where they will each gift a copy of the hardback edition to their year six pupils and encourage them to read and discuss the book. In July, they will take part in an exclusive live webinar with Michael.

Pupils will be encouraged to explore the themes of the book which focus on refuge, war, kindness and hope. This links with Portsmouth’s status as a City of Sanctuary; a pledge from 141 organisations in the city to offer safety and sanctuary to anyone fleeing violence and persecution and those who are vulnerable and isolated.

Michael said: “We think that there are about 60 million refugees in this world of ours and some will end up on our shores. What’s important is that they are welcomed as fellow human beings, not as refugees, that we acknowledge the sacrifices they have made just to get here. That is why I wrote Boy Giant and many other books that are about those children who most need family, a future and safety. Portsmouth looks out to the world. We think of all the people who sailed the seas over the centuries from Portsmouth and found new worlds, and we think of all the people who sailed the seas and found new homes here with us”

Alongside the Big City Read, a large sand sculpture of the Boy Giant is on loan to Portsmouth Central Library over the summer for public viewing. Pupils and their families are encouraged to visit the library and take a selfie with the Giant. Board versions will also appear in local branch libraries.