As part of the ongoing work of the Torbay Arts in Schools Network, we are featuring a series of ‘Spotlight Interviews’ with key TASN partners.
Next up: Sarah Shoare, Customer Service Assistant – Paignton Library (Libraries Unlimited)
Question: Tell me a little bit about your role and what you do.
Paignton Library is a community hub within the town, providing a range of services for people of all ages and is run by the charity, Libraries Unlimited. As well as running many activities and events, Paignton Library supports the health and wellbeing of our community, by providing a free, welcoming and comfortable space for a range of activities.
My role involves assisting people with day-to-day enquiries about books, computer use, information signposting and running events. I also spend time planning children’s activities, class visits and fundraising ideas. We try and think of activities that are engaging, relevant and affordable for families.
Question: What’s something really exciting/successful that’s happened in the last 6 months?
We have recently started a Sensory Play session as we received a generous donation of items from Asda. It runs weekly through term time and has a simple theme each week with a variety of creative, musical, light and play activities.
At the end of each term, we run a Sensory Special which includes stories and singing as well. It is a lovely group that is attended by children with a wide variety of support networks who enjoy exploring together.
Question: Why are schools relationships important to you? How do the schools get involved?
One of our aims at Libraries Unlimited is to promote a love of reading. Schools visits are key to us reaching young people and families and promoting our services. Schools can either come into the library for a visit where we plan a session based on using the library or a topic they have been learning about. If easier we can go out to schools.
We often do annual assemblies to promote the Summer Reading Challenge. Schools are an excellent partner for us to utilise in spreading the message of both reading and being able to access a wealth of free reading material for families in the local area.
If you are a local school and would like to arrange a class visit to the library please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: Can you describe some ways that families with children & young people engage with your work?
We offer a range of activities for families, children and young people.
Our main focus during the week is groups for Early Years children so we have 3 Bounce and Rhyme sessions and Sensory Play on Tuesdays. These activities aim to promote social and language and communication skills.
We run a Summer Reading Challenge, over the summer months, encouraging a continuation of reading over the summer break, to enhance literacy levels and prevent the drop off of skills at this point. Through this, we collaborate with schools in the run up, run several free/ low cost activities per week to keep children entertained over the holidays, and provide children with prizes to continue their reading over the summer, to finish the challenge!
Our provisions for children and families provide families with a safe space to socialise and meet new people, learn via different means and discover new opportunities, experiencing new things together and building a bond right from day one.
Question: Going forward, what are your hopes and dreams in terms of engagement?
We hope that families continue to use us regularly and that we engage new families in the library too, targeting different areas of Paignton, which may have a low uptake of people using the library space. We know there is still a lot of incorrect preconceptions surrounding a library space, such as it is a place of strict silence etc., however, we would love to break those stereotypes and invite anyone and everyone to come along and enjoy the library space!
Stay up to date with Paignton Library and their amazing work here:
Paignton Library is a key partner of TASN.
Torbay Arts in Schools Network (TASN) is a collaborative and grassroots effort, comprised of 45 organisations, freelancers, and schools in the Torbay area.
The network serves as Torbay’s Cultural Education Partnership, providing shared regional advocacy, arts menus, creative resources, and arts outreach in partnership with area schools. What is a Local Cultural Education Partnership? Find out more here.
The group is action-driven, and meets fortnightly over Zoom to do shared activity planning. The network is currently chaired and coordinated by Erin Walcon, Co-Director, Doorstep Arts.
The network is open-door and new artists, arts orgs or school staff are always welcome to join –just email email@example.com to sign up to the mailing list.