St Helens Libraries use Arts Award to enhance their Reading Hack offer. Kathryn Boothroyd explained how it works:
Working with Arts Award
Arts Award inspires children and young people to grow their arts and leadership talents. The award is offered at four levels: Discover, Explore, Bronze and Silver. Six Community Library Officers and one Senior Library Assistant in St Helens have been trained as Arts Award advisors, so all young people who take part in Reading Hack also have the chance to undertake Bronze and Silver Arts Award alongside it.
Arts and culture in St Helens
Due to the Cultural Hubs Arts in Libraries programme, young people in St Helens have been given fantastic opportunities to attend art performances and workshops and gain the evidence needed to qualify for Arts Award. In addition, those involved in Reading Hack have organised some fantastic events in the library spaces, including a Mad Hackers Tea Party, a Holocaust commemoration and the very first multi-faith event at Central Library, all of which can count towards Arts Award.
Young People's Thoughts
As evidence for her Arts Award, Reading Hacker Natalie wrote her own children's story and delivered it at one of her library's Read and Rhyme times. She says:
"From a young age, I have always been a member of my local library service and visited frequently to choose new books and use their facilities. As I got older and joined high school, I noticed less and less people around my age in libraries, despite the youth-friendly facilities, like computers, video games and clubs.
When I left high school I was able to volunteer with other Reading Hacks to help out with the Summer Reading Challenge, and work towards Arts Award at the same time. Throughout that summer I was heavily involved with my local library; preparing Summer Reading Challenge packs, creating displays, setting up events and activities, reading to the children, and starting my Bronze Arts Award with my adviser, who was a member of the library staff.
Since then, although I no longer volunteer in the library, I have completed and achieved my Bronze Arts Award, and am now working towards my Silver. The skills I have gained and developed have helped me throughout my college studies, and have allowed me to gain a place at university.
The Library Service provides so many opportunities for young people; the Arts Award, volunteering, Summer Reading Challenges, Cultural Hubs, and are always looking for new ways to get young people back into libraries. It's so lovely to visit my local library and see more and more people of my age enjoying what they have to offer!"_
Challenges and Achievements
Arts Award has given St Helens Libraries the opportunity to offer a respected and meaningful award to young people, which enhances our Reading Hack offer. The awards are work-intensive for staff, and so we focus on making sure that library staff can take their time guiding young people through the process, rather than getting high numbers of young people through.
Kate Jones (Community Library Officer) says the following:
"As a Community Library Officer I have been able to work with young people to encourage and grow their knowledge around the Arts... Young people have so much to offer and it's great to build strong links with individuals. I continue to find this aspect of my job both interesting and rewarding!"
Currently there are several young people going through the Bronze and Silver award process. A recruitment drive for Reading Hack linked to our Book Awards will be organised in the autumn with the intention of offering Arts Award as a means of ensuring young people know that their time spent in libraries will be enjoyable, creative and accredited.