Category Archives: Activities

Simplified Dungeons & Dragons

Over the past few years I have spoken to a number of D&D and gaming fans that work in Libraries, without exception they have stated that they would love to set up gaming sessions in Libraries, the only problem they have encountered is the timescales involved in setting up and running campaigns.

Now thanks to BoingBoing I have found a website that has provided a ‘how to’ guide on running a D&D introductory campaign for eight year olds. The campaign can be tweaked for older players in libraries but overall the simplified rules and character creation makes it easier to start with beginners.

2) Kids chose which color dice they want and which miniature will be their hero, both of which they got to keep as “goodie bags” from the party. We didn’t have them do any further character creation (all heroes had the same stats behind the screen) except for name. Lots of the kids who hadn’t played before had problems coming up with a name, so I asked if they wanted to roll for one. I didn’t actually have a table, I just used the time they were rolling the dice to think them up.

3) The scenario was that the heroes set forth from their stronghold to explore the surrounding wilderness in search of magical items to claim and Pokemon to capture. We had the kids construct the wilderness using Heroscape hexes, and the stronghold using wooden Kapla blocks

The campaign was played over two and a half hours. For full details go here:

What Made for a Successful D&D Birthday Party

Library Protest sign making 101

I have been speaking to a number of library workers recently who are being affected by the upcoming cuts, I am one of them! There are a number of marches and protests planned across the UK and it will be a shame if Libraries are left out of the push for social justice, so I have put together a basic how to guide on making protest signs. This can also be used as a practical workshop for young people who feel they may want to protest.

It is also good for Friends of Library Groups that may wish to protest branch closures on a Local Authority level.

Materials:

  • Poster boards (A3)
  • Ruler
  • Marker pens / Paint
  • Stencils
  • Pencils
  • Handles
  • Stapler
  • Glue
  • Duct tape

Select a thick board that won’t easily bend or tear in strong winds. Also, select a board that’s white – or, if choosing coloured board, make sure it is a light colour that won’t distract from the message.

Writing the message:

  • You will need a pencil, a ruler and a thick black marker for this part, especially if you don’t have stencils.
  • Using the ruler, measure the board and letter size – you do not want to start and then run out of space.
  • Using the pencil, lightly trace out the letters of the slogan, make them as large as you can (so that the slogan is legible from a distance)
  • Once you have a design you’re satisfied with, use your marker to outline the letters.
  • If there is a particular word you want to emphasise, consider adding colour. Red will make it stand out and look dramatic, but outline the word in black so it’s readable.

There is a how to construct a stencil guide at the bottom of the article.

Constructing your sign

Use glue to attach the sign to the handle and then use a staple gun for additional strength, for the paranoid you can use tape to make sure the sign will stay attached to the handle. If you use wood for the handle it may be advisable to wrap the end you hold in take so you do not get splinters.

Hold your poster up with both hands where people can see it. It is, of course, make sure it is right side up! Alternatively you can attach a handle to your sign.

Slogans

These should be clear, concise, and readable – remember that people will only have a few seconds to read your message, by all means have some leaflets to hand out as well detailing your views.  Humorous slogans can work well, as do images.

For example:

We will not be shhhhhh’ed!

Close Tax Loopholes Not Libraries!

Making a stencil

  • Come up with a design – it is best to do this once you have measured the board as you may end up with letters that are too large or small for the size of the board.
  • It is important to remember that you cannot have ‘islands’ such as the middle of an O or R. You can use straight lines to connect the islands.
  • Transfer your designs to a piece of cardboard (cereal boxes can be used to make stencils). You can also draw out your designs on paper and then photocopy them on to thinner pieces of board.
  • Use a sharp craft knife to cut out the design. Blunt blades can rip the board wasting your work.
  • Spray-paint works best with cardboard stencils, you can also use acrylic paint and dab it through the stencil using a sponge or brush.
  • Remember to wipe excess paint off the stencil as this will help it to last longer.

Toshokan Senso (Library Wars)

In a slightly different timeline than ours, the explosion of information and misinformation came to be considered a direct threat to society. In a daring decision, it was decided to create a new government agency dedicated solely to information management. Some thirty years later, in 2019, the government still monitors and controls information, suppressing anything they find undesirable, but standing against their abuses of power are the libraries, with their special agents called ‘the book soldiers.’

This all sounds really familiar! Suppressing information, cutting access to books and people think it only happens in fiction! Guess not – who knew that manga could foretell the future?

I like the idea of being a Book Soldier, the first shots in defending Libraries and access to books are being fired as we speak. Do we as librarians that work with young people have a duty to educate our Teens on how to protest the cutting of the EMA, provision of addresses of MPs, during the reading groups and activity sessions should we be able to run letter writing workshops to Parliament to protest the cuts. I am working on a how-to create a ‘zine programme that I will post up here soon, maybe even a workshop on protest sign making.

The youth are already rising up, I think we have a responsibility to guide them on how to do it safely (and legally)!

You can grab Library Wars from Amazon here or ask at you rlocal comic or speciality bookshop.

The Making Of ‘Grandville’ And The Anthropomorphic Tradition – a talk by Bryan Talbot

Bryan Talbot is the award-winning creator of The Tale of One Bad Rat, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Alice in Sunderland and more recently Grandville – a graphic novel which is a Victoriana/Art Nouveau steampunk tale of murder and intrigue (with added badger). He has also illustrated many other graphic novels including Slaine, Nemesis the Warlock, Sandman, Hellblazer and Teknophage.

Mr Talbot has a talk he can give for older audiences, called ‘The Making Of ‘Grandville’ And The Anthropomorphic Tradition’.

Bryan can be contacted for more info via… bryantalbot at btinternet dot com

Library Myth Busters

This is an idea I have been working on that can be run with a Reading Group and also for breaking the ice for new users in the Library:

This event can be run by following the Myth Busters format of having small teams investigating various Library Myths and then presenting their findings to the entire Reading Group. If permission can be obtained for filming, a short DVD could be made of the proceedings. This could tie into a larger media and film-making programme that can be run over half-term or summer holidays. It is fun and educational – teenagers learn how the library works and what the staff do all day as well as debunking misconceptions they may have on what goes on in libraries.

Here are a a list of library myths that can either be debunked or confirmed:

  • Librarians have lots of time to read on the job
  • All librarians are fast readers
  • Public libraries are only busy during the school year
  • Public libraries are only busy during summer holidays
  • Libraries are used only by those who cannot afford to buy their own books.
  • Librarians have no stress
  • Librarians have read every book in the library.
  • Librarians know the answer to everything
  • Everyone who works in the library is a librarian
  • Libraries are just about getting books
  • Libraries aren’t necessary because everything’s available on the internet
  • Libraries have plenty of money because they get so many donated books and charge so much in fines
  • The librarian can be held responsible for everything that kids check out because they work for the government and must protect young people from bad things
  • School libraries aren’t needed because kids can get everything they want at the public library or online
  • Librarians wear their hair in buns, have wire-rimmed glasses, and say shhhhh! all the time
  • Librarians only issue books
  • Everything in the library is free
  • You have to know Dewey to use the library
  • Libraries are serious and quiet all the time
  • It is difficult to get a library card
  • Libraries are for English readers only

The list is by no means complete and if anyone would like to add library myths in the comments you are most welcome.

HeadSpace Efford

Create a Comic project
HeadSpace Efford took part in this online Manga storyboard activity in preparation for their first ever Manga RE-con at Waterstone’s in Plymouth. The theory behind the activity is that young people who are interested in Manga but unable to draw to a high standard can take part in constructing their own Manga storyboard. The site also provides similar pre-designed graphic novel templates and blank comic strips for young people who are talented artists. All this can be found on the Create a Comic Project website.

“The Create a Comic Project (CCP) is a youth literacy activity that uses comics to promote creative writing. The CCP uses two kinds of templates for instruction: blank panels, allowing kids to draw their own, and pre-drawn comics with the original dialogue bubbles blanked out. Pre-drawn templates use art from comics all across the web, representing a broad swath of the online cartooning community. The CCP is arguably the single largest multi-comic educational collaboration of its kind.

This website is dedicated to hosting the creations of the students who participated in the CCP. Both original and “remixed” comics are posted here for all to see. Every comic here is the work of one or more children. While I provided guidance and technical knowledge (what a dialogue bubble is, how to read expressions, etc.), I was always careful not to tell the kids what to write. So each comic posted here is the free and open creation of a young mind.”

The group really enjoyed coming up with their own stories and reading them aloud to each other. As with most projects that involve young people they are keen to come up with something with a professional finish. We were able to print their designs in colour for them to take home.

Meet Mangako!
DSCF3875
HeadSpace Efford launched their very own Manga group, hosted by Abi our resident Manga enthusiast. Abi came up with the plan for launch party, prepared the activities, made cakes, designed posters and promoted the group at the Manga RE-con event. The group is made up of four new HeadSpace members and three existing members who love all things Manga.
HeadSpace 034
It was a great to meet new members at the launch and everyone enjoyed learning to speak some Japanese, trying Japanese food and even listening to Disney songs in Japanese.
HeadSpace 035
Mangako meet on a fortnightly basis during HeadSpace time and in the next few weeks will be coming up with their own design for a Manga library card, performing a Manga sketch and sharing their favourite Anime.

To keep up with all our activities follow us on Twitter and check out the HeadSpace blog, written by young people for young people.


Article & photos provided by Superlibrarian Emma Sherriff of Plymouth Library Service

Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga

The brilliant Barry Lyga is running a competition ahead of the release of his new book Goth Girl Rising. You have to create a video trailer for one of his books, upload it onto Youtube, Myspace Video or anywhere you can host a video and send him the link.

Full competition details are here

This is worth promoting to any Teens who frequent the Library where you work, it could even be good for a Teen Group Library Project! Be quick you only have until the end of August!

It is easy – and to prove this I have entered the competition. My trailer is below!

ToshoCON

In Japanese the word for ‘Library’ is Toshokan.

In the UK over the past few years interest in manga and anime has grown (and grown and grown). The number of events and conventions around the country, including Kitacon, the MCM Expos in London and the Midlands, Auchinawa, EirtaKon and Fuyucon. This list is not exhaustive but just to illustrate that there are Conventions occurring all over the UK and now is the perfect time for Libraries to start thinking about staging an event or series of events.

Due to the fact that we are dispersed across the country it will be next to impossible to gather us all in one or two locations my idea is for as many libraries as possible to run events over several days and hopefully link up over the internet with videocasting of events and online chats. This can raise the profile of Libraries as places that run events that appeal to young people (and not so young people judging by the wide range of ages I have seen at other conventions).

All ideas welcome via e-mail or comments

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Read the full-text of Coraline online (including Dave McKean’s illustrations).

A discussion guide for Coraline is available here if you would like to discuss it in a reading group.

Tintin at 80

Tintin & Snowy

Tintin & Snowy

This Saturday the 10th January marks the 80th anniversary of Tintin‘s first appearance in Le Petit Vingtième.

Tintin has remained consistently popular with children, teens and adults for the past 80 years. The 80th anniversary comes amidst news that the long-awaited Tintin film (to be directed by Steven Spielberg and a script written by Doctor Who scribe Steven Moffat) is due to be released in 2010.

While the filming is only due to start in February, the film once released may be used as a taster of Tintin to get reluctant readers interested in trying the books themselves.