#ThanksToYou we can bring this amazing building back to life in our community.
From 3rd-9th December, National Lottery players enjoyed free entry to a range of sites across the country to celebrate their support for Lottery funded projects. Although we can't open our doors just yet, we made this video to give you a sneak peek inside The Old Library and say thank you on behalf of all the people who will benefit from it.
#ThanksToYou we can bring this amazing building back to life in our community.
Wednesday 5th December was International Volunteer Day and we celebrated with some of our amazing volunteers over tea and cake. As we approach the end of the year, we wanted to look back and say thank you for all the help we’ve received in 2018:
• Since June, we’ve received almost 200 hours in voluntary help and 20 new people have supported The Old Library project through activities such as clearing The Old Library grounds, recording graffiti on the back of the building & promoting the project at various events.
• We also have five trustees who help to look after Lister Steps all year round, with two more applicant trustees in the pipeline. Two of our trustees have been with Lister Steps since the very start and have given so much in terms of their expertise and undying commitment.
• One of our childcare volunteers, Victoria, has been with us for 17 years and was presented with an award last year to celebrate her amazing commitment and work ethic. We’re proud to welcome volunteers with all abilities and partner with North West Community services to allow adults with additional needs opportunities to gain valuable work experience.
• With our volunteers’ help, we’ve reached almost 500 people through our project events & activities throughout 2018.
Construction work is due to start early next year and we’re looking forward to welcoming new faces to our volunteer team, helping us to reach more people in our local community and spreading the word about how everyone can get involved with The Old Library project.
If you’re looking for a new challenge in 2019 or want to meet new people and learn new skills, keep an eye on our volunteering page for opportunities throughout the year!
We were recently shortlisted in the Marks & Spencer and Power to Change Liverpool Community Business Challenge. Our Project Champion volunteer Andrew describes what happened at the celebration event held at The Florrie on 1st November.
The autumn sun was shining, deflecting yellows and reds from the leaves, some still clinging on to their life source, others now forming part of an annual natural carpet, yet it was a crisp morning as the Lister Steps delegation, led by the tireless Gaynor Williams, set off en route to the Florrie. Supported by trustees Gayle and Julie, Lister Steps management in the form of Chris and Michelle, and our volunteer Champions, Azuka and Andrew, there was a strong supporting cast aiming to win financial and business support to take the Lister Steps brand forward to a bigger, brighter and better future.
As each shortlisted group began literally to set out their stall, two things became apparent: Firstly, there was an air of mutual respect and shared pride between seven hardworking groups, different branches of the same tree, one of support and community in Liverpool. Secondly, it was clear that the competition was very, very strong.
As the atmosphere grew, representatives from Power to Change and M&S, along with members of the public, quizzed each group on their goals and progress. There was a growing buzz inside the amazing space of the Florrie hall as the Lister Steps representatives engaged with all comers, explaining the plans to leave the portacabins behind and expand into the old library site to continue to provide excellent childcare services but also to reach out to the whole community of all ages.
Then it was time for the formalities. Once the introductory speeches, surely designed to heighten the tension, were out of the way, each organisation presented their pitch. And what a variety we were treated to: Song, beer, history and even pies all found a place as the groups put their best foot forward. And so, it came to Gaynor. Clear, precise and concise, highlighting the positive lasting effect Lister Steps has had on parents and children alike throughout its history, Gaynor made a very strong case for the Lister Steps brand and the plans for re-modelling that brand as we enter a new era.
The pause for lunch, courtesy of M&S, was a last chance for best wishes to be shared around the room, and to try to hide the nerves however possible. Our work was done, and the almost impossible decision now lay in the hands of the judges. Out of the shortlisted 7, only 5 would were to be chosen. Just 2 of the finalists would be leaving empty-handed.
The task of announcing the results befell Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change, and Chair of the judging panel. Glasses of fizz were handed round in anticipation of a, hopefully, triumphant toast. The gym fell silent as we all held our breath. Vidhya began to speak, the tension reached its crescendo, she confessed to underestimating the level of the finalists. Then, to the surprise and delight of all present, she announced the panel had decided it had to break its own rules and reward all 7 groups with £10,000 and invaluable business support. Everyone’s a winner! A fair decision and one which we all celebrated as one. Congratulations all round and many happy faces as official, and some unofficial, photos were taken.
It was a great day, and an honour to share the room with so many inspiring people. All the branches of that community tree grew a little more today, some inter-twining, but all rising from the same roots, from the earth in Liverpool, and our common spirit to support others. As we set off back to base and towards the setting late afternoon sun, it was impossible not to feel proud of Lister Steps, The Old Library Project, Gaynor, Olivia, and all those involved, safe in the knowledge that what we are doing is great, and we are doing it well.
“Today’s showcase event has provided a real insight into the collaborative, creative projects with people at their heart that exist in Liverpool. The visible way in which the community businesses have supported each other through the whole programme reaffirmed that they were all winners and incredible assets to Liverpool.” Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change.
The Community Business programme has been piloted in the Liverpool City Region in 2018, as part of M&S’s Community Transformation Programme, in collaboration with Power to Change. The retailer is currently trialling a range of actions in Liverpool to help tackle the issues that matter most to communities – such as unemployment, skill shortages, loneliness, mental health and wellbeing.
The theme for this year’s National Poetry Day was ‘Change’ so it seemed fitting to celebrate by thinking about the changes ahead on The Old Library project. We partnered up with Pauline Rowe from North End Writers to run workshops for the Year 4 and 5 classes at one of our local schools, St Anne Stanley. Alongside working on well-being projects with North End Writers, Pauline is Writer-in-Residence at The Open Eye Gallery and Poet-in-Residence at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust so we were thrilled to have her help on this project.
Each session was different which gave us the chance to explore lots of ideas with the children. Our first year 4 class closed their eyes to read a poem about The Old Library which Pauline had written especially for them. The children wrote down the pictures that had come to mind in their imagination whilst listening to the poem and Pauline joined these ideas together to make a wonderful class poem about the spirit of The Old Library.
Our second year 4 class thought about the theme of change and how things change all around them in their everyday lives, using their ideas to create acrostic poems. When it came to the group poem, there was a 50/50 vote for whether we should write a rhyming poem or a free-verse poem…so we came up with both! The class looked to the future with rhymes about what they’ll do in The Old Library and similes to describe how the new building will make them feel.
Gaynor and Olivia had visited the year 5 classes to talk about The Old Library project last year so they knew all about our plans. With one class, we looked back in time and used a photograph of Lister School students in 1934 to imagine life when the library was open. Their poems explored how the new building will have changed and what those children might think if they could visit The Old Library in 2020. Our final year 5 class came up with the idea of using personification to think about the library and came up with ideas about how the building might feel since it was closed down. We combined all their ideas together to create an atmospheric group poem that reflects on The Old Library in its current state.
It was jam-packed day and each session was different, with lots of interesting and thoughtful ideas from the children. A big thank you to Pauline who did an excellent job of proving that everyone can be a poet just by using their imagination and words to express themselves. It was a great way to celebrate National Poetry Day and we’ve come away with so many wonderful creations from the children which we hope to use in imaginative ways throughout the project.
Thanks to Miss Prior in Year 4 for helping us organise the day and we’re looking forward to doing more with St Anne Stanley in the future. If you know another local school that would be interested in The Old Library project activities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to get you involved.
Find out first-hand what our volunteers have been up to over the last few weeks on our building recording project with Museum of Liverpool. Sharon Matthews explains all…
Do you remember the TV programme ‘Time Team’ hosted by Tony Robinson? Well I do, and I was always fascinated by what the time team got up to and what was found during the dig. I’m also interested in how old buildings can be regenerated and given new life with a new use. So volunteering at Lister Steps was a great fit for my interests, while being ‘in between jobs’.
I signed up to be a volunteer to help record the building before any of the changes start happening and was invited to an afternoon session to hear all about the Old Library and the Lister Steps project. Our first day was on 11th September, there were four of us volunteers and we were introduced to the archaeology team from the Museum of Liverpool. They showed us one of the walls that needed recording, and to my surprise it a wall full of graffiti! It was explained that archaeology wasn’t just about what’s under the ground, but also above. In fact archaeologists are interested in anything that’s historical, social and culturally significant.
Using a scale of 1:20 we were shown the painstaking method of measuring and recording on graph paper the multiple layers of graffiti we could see on the wall. It’s the same method that’s used during an archaeological dig. Even though it was only graffiti, I felt a bit of pressure to be as accurate as possible, as I knew this was going to be a historical record. It took me and my partner Ellen 4 hours to record the large white piece of graffiti.
On 15th September, I attended Lister Steps' first Heritage Open Day event. Vanessa, who is one of the archaeologists, explained some of the artefacts that had been found in dig sites around the Liverpool area. She wanted to show the visitors what might be found during the dig that will be taking place at the library next year...Time Team here I come! It was lovely to meet some of the visitors who were sharing their memories of the Old Library.
My final day of volunteering was on Wednesday 19th September. This is when I got an extra chance to glimpse into the life of an archaeologist. We were shown software that they use to turn the scaled pencil drawing into a digitised image which is then used to put into a project catalogue at the end. Clare, from the Museum of Liverpool, did all the technical stuff for me and I just did the nice bit, digitally drawing over the original work. This image shows what I did on the day, but it still needs the other layers adding, and it was undecided whether to change the colours to make them more representative of the actual colours.
So, what did I get out of my volunteering experience? I got to meet new people; I got to find out more about the project (it’s so much better being involved); I got to learn new skills and brush up on my maths; I got an insight into the work of an archaeologist...and although it was too early for the ‘Time Team’ experience, I’m certainly looking forward to the dig next year.
I’d encourage anyone interested to get involved, Olivia and her team are very welcoming.
On Saturday 15th September, we ran our first ever Heritage Open Days event, linking into a national network of heritage sites and organisations who opened their doors to visitors for free across two weeks in September.
Visitors were able to look around the grounds of The Old Library and get up close to the building with our Conservation Architect Alan Gardner, who gave some really interesting talks about the history of the building and its key architectural features. We then encouraged people to follow our blue chalk arrows round the corner to Lister Steps nursery where we were joined by some of the teams helping us throughout the project.
Our design team from OMI Architects talked people through the plans for the building and created an interactive ‘fly-through’ of the interior, giving visitors an idea of how the finished building might look.
Periscope CIC, who are helping to document and film the project as it progresses, were on hand to talk about our community journalism training programme next year and showed off some of the work they’ve produced on similar projects.
The community archaeology team from the Museum of Liverpool and our building recording volunteers revealed the multiple layers of graffiti they recorded on the building last week and got hands on with some finds from previous archaeological digs; this gave visitors a flavour of what we could find when we run our own dig in the grounds of The Old Library next year!
Overall, we had 185 visitors throughout the day which is an amazing turnout. Lots of people signed up to hear more about our upcoming volunteering opportunities and added their fond memories to our Memory Line (we’ll share some of these soon). Everyone was so supportive of the project and it was really encouraging to hear that so many people are looking forward to using the building once again. Thank you to everyone who came along, especially our volunteers Azuka & Andrew, who were on hand to welcome people at the library, and Anthony who was busy snapping photographs throughout the day.
We’re hoping this is the first of many successful Heritage Open Days events for The Old Library!
This week we’ve been at hard work at The Old Library getting the grounds ready for our upcoming activities and events. With our archaeology volunteers and the Museum of Liverpool team on site soon to carry out external building recording, we needed to make sure they could access the outside of the building. We also wanted to make everything is safe for visitors to our Heritage Open Day event where our design team will be running guided tours around the grounds.
After 12 years with no gardener, the grounds were very overgrown so we had our work cut out. Luckily we enlisted the help of our amazing volunteers, some of whom do similar work in Newsham Park on a regular basis, and they joined us for a walk-around where we came up our plan of attack. Then earlier this week, Don, Denise, Vinny, Karen, Mark & Laura arrived armed with shovels, loppers, wheelbarrows, litter-pickers, rakes and elbow grease to get stuck in.
It took a full day and a half but by the end the sun came out and we had managed to clear some good spaces round the front and back of the building by strimming weeds & cutting down bushes. We also showed The Old Library some love after clearing the drive and picking up at least 15 bags of litter!
It was a fab team effort and we are so thankful for the help of our volunteers, we simply couldn’t have done it without them. If you’d like to come along and admire their efforts, our Heritage Open Day event will run on Saturday 15th September from 10am to 3pm!
Over the last few weeks, the children from our Lister Steps summer Play Scheme have been helping to create content for a time capsule display. The idea is that we can use what they’ve produced as part of our heritage interpretation in The Old Library once the building is finished, showing what life is like for children today compared to back in 1905 when the library first opened.
The children have drawn self portraits and made lists of their favourite foods, places & things to do, as well as making collages of the kind of toys they like to play with. They also looked at postcards from 1900 which were produced for the World Exhibition in Paris and displayed the artists’ predictions of what the world would be like in 2000. Although some were quite far off the mark, such as underwater whale buses and flying postmen, others have become a reality including machines that can sweep the floor (vacuum cleaners) and houses on wheels (caravans) . The children then created their own predictions of the future which included some equally outlandish and also perceptive ideas, ranging from jelly trampolines and flying armchairs to no more homelessness and sustainable energy.
Thank you to the children for helping out with The Old Library project and hopefully we can keep adding to our time capsule content over the next 18 months.
One of our partner organisations, Placed, invited us to get involved with their pop-up event ‘Ed’s Place’ this September. Over four weeks, Placed will be based in the old George Henry Lee building to provide a creative space for people, decision makers and developers to come together and share ideas about how our city centre can be a better place for everyone. There will be a programme of workshops, events and exhibitions focused on thinking about how Liverpool city centre could be reimagined and revived, including future uses for empty shops and greener outdoor spaces.
Last night we went along to a workshop with Placed & the University of Liverpool to get the ball rolling on some of these ideas. We were joined by others who have worked on regeneration and community projects across the city, such as Welsh Streets and Homebaked, to start coming up with some ideas for a new vision for our city centre. During the discussion, Atul Bansal illustrated these suggestions to create a visual map from Bold Street down to Derby Square, which will be on display in Ed’s Place once it opens to get people talking and thinking about possibilities for the future. It was a great evening and we were really pleased to be part of the conversation about how regeneration can have a positive impact for people living and working in the local area.
Ed’s Place will be open from Thursday 28th August until Sunday 23rd September and you can find out more on the Placed website. We’ll be helping out at the George Henry Lee building for a few days and possibly running our own workshop so watch this space for more news and make sure you come down to have your say on the future of our city.