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Feedback on Access2books by West Sussex Libraries

(September 20, 2013)

West Sussex Libraries – comments and feedback to Access2books 20th September 2013

Comments from: Russell Allen, Fran Trimming, Kerry Brookes, Natalie Ismail, Cara Lambert, Laura Sauvary, Frances Maloney, Kim Tucker, Jackie Manners.

General comments:

We initially bought a small number of Access2books titles for our four largest libraries. They were well received by Children’s Librarians, library staff, families and other groups such as nurseries and Children and Family Centres.

We then had the opportunity to make the collection larger and spent money on putting titles into the 12 largest libraries in the County (out of a total of 36). Although not every library has the books, they are available to order from any library (or online) free of charge, to be collected from your local library. The largest libraries obviously have more space and suitable shelving to house the collections, although there are sometimes not any on the shelves as they are all on loan.

Children’s Librarians are promoting the books when they make outreach visits to playgroups, Children and Family centres and other groups. They are also being used and promoted by the Bookbus staff who visit settings daily and they are used in library toddler time and other relevant sessions. We also show the books when we run our ‘Delivering the Service’ training sessions for new staff.

Specific comments:

Frances: A visually impaired reader from Worthing with three small children commented how delighted she was to be able to share books with her children. She was particularly excited by Elmer as previously she could not access it at all because of the positioning of the typeface on the background.

A braille teacher at Worthing was very pleased to see the books, but commented that the spacing of the braille was more suited to adults than children. Eileen explained about the spacing and we wondered if the wider 1.5 spacing might be available for shorter texts such as Monkey and Me and Dear Zoo for less advanced readers.

Laura: A student in Worthing who is learning braille has borrowed the books as they are nice and simple.

Laura also feels that the books are visually nice and simple and therefore ideal to share at Toddler Time in the library (NB in West Sussex we offer a variety of free events for under fives which anyone can come to. Baby Rhyme time is for babies, usually up to 18 months and is a session with rhymes and songs; Toddler Time is for slightly older children and will include more action and joining in songs and usually a short story; Storytime is for children age 3+ and is more traditional stories and perhaps a song or two). Using the books in these sessions has several benefits: modelling and promoting a specialist resource, making use of the resource as a tool for all and making another link between visual images, written word, sounds and spoken words.

We then all discussed the importance of songs and rhymes in language acquisition and how we are using images to prompt children to know what song we are singing next. Frances told us about the boy who is visually impaired who goes to a rhyme time. He always likes to look closely at the pictures to give a cue to the next song. When it is a big red bus picture, he knows the next song will be ‘The wheels on the bus’ and is enormously excited! This led us to talk about the possibility of having a rhyme/song title in the Access2 books range.

Kim: A family at Crawley had been going to the RNIB for books as the library did not hold any stock with big enough print. They are now of course happily using the giant print Access2books titles.

Natalie: Groups sometimes want to use the books, even if they do not have any members who they know of who are visually impaired. For example one of the Children and Family Centres is having an RNIB day in October and have borrowed some titles as part of their display.

We also know that other groups often ask for examples of braille. Brownies and cubs have a readers badge and also a communications badge and may do other activities which need them to consider different ways of reading. Schools sometimes do something similar.

Natalie has found that the books are very popular in Horsham library (one of the busiest children’s libraries in the County) and are always on loan. However they may be borrowed by all types of reader and for different reasons. We now have self-service kiosks in all of our libraries, so we would not talk to every reader and discover if they had a particular need.

Fran: The books are great to take out on visits to pre-schools and nurseries as this is a time when we can promote types of stock to staff from the setting and also demonstrate how they are used. Some settings may have a child with a visual impairment (known about or still undiscovered) and may not know about all of the resources available. Other settings welcome the variety of resources as it helps them to embrace accessibility and positive images – always a good idea, but good for Ofsted as well! We also have a selection of Bag Books stories which we use in the same way.

Kerry: The Children and Family Centre in Bognor is setting up a group called Theraplay for children with special needs. Kerry has already worked with them using the Bag Books stories and has also been able to show and promote the Access2books titles which everyone loved.

Bookbus: We have two bookbuses which visit playgroups, pre-schools and other settings in specifically targeted areas. These are often areas where families and also the staff in the settings may need extra support. They have a number of children who have a visual impairment and can lend the books to the setting for their use. They can also borrow more titles for the group to borrow and can also demonstrate to staff how to share the books with their children.


Other possible titles:

We talked about other titles which could be popular in the range. The idea of non-fiction was attractive – we suggested mini-beasts, dinosaurs and trucks as possibilities. Eileen is looking for titles to celebrated festivals to sit alongside Dear Santa.  Kim suggested ‘Sweet dates to eat’ and there is a whole series by the same author Jonny Zucker, published by Frances Lincoln, with titles including

Sweet dates to eat: a Ramadan and Eid story

Lighting a lamp: a Divali story

Four special questions: a Passover story


There is also Samira’s Eid by Nasreen Aktar.

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