28 November 2016

What’s on at the library?

I’ve volunteered at the Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library twice now and I have to say the experience has been every bit as lovely as I’d hoped it would be. Thank you to the rest of the team for being so welcoming and accommodating, it’s been great working with you all. One of my favourite things about volunteering here is seeing everyone’s reactions as they discover its existence for the first time. Seeing so many smiles, lit-up eyes and genuinely excited faces has really cheered me up and made the experience so worthwhile and so too has been having the chance to talk to new people as they share such interesting stories about their lives, cultures and language-learning journey. I’m looking forward to meeting many more people very soon, as the library will be hosting something for everyone in the next few weeks.

The Italian and French conversations groups on Fridays are suspended during December. Watch this space or our Facebook page for news of when it will begin again in January. The French language groups on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will also pause in December - for more information write to frenchonthetyne@yahoo.co.uk
We have our monthly parent and baby event, Rainbow Babies taking place on Saturday 3rd December. Rainbow Babies is open to all LGBTQ parents and their little ones between 11am and 2pm. It’s the perfect opportunity to take some time out with your kids to relax with a nice cup of tea, play, meet other parents and make new friends.

On Saturday 10th December 5pm-7pm, the library will play host to a public meeting held by The Migration and Asylum Justice Forum. The organisation works hard campaigning for jobs, employment rights, housing and healthcare for migrants and refugees and would welcome your support and views. The meetings are a great opportunity to get your voice heard, with Saturday’s meeting focusing on current governmental policies towards immigration and healthcare.

Christmas festivities will take place on 17th December as we will be having a children’s party from 2pm-5pm. Join us with your family as we bring wordy cheer to Newcastle with a sprinkling of snowflakes and of course a few fairy lights.There will be fun and games with poetic words in a variety of languages. Who knows - there might even be cake!
Finally, we will be closed over the Christmas period between Saturday 24th December and 2nd January and normal service will resume on Tuesday 3rd January 2017. We have many more events coming soon in the New Year and we’d love to see you there. I really hope one of our events interests you. Don’t forget you’re always welcome to come in to browse and chat. Membership and full access to our fantastic array of books resources for a whole year is a mere £5 and the more members we have, the merrier!

Emma Collingwood

15 November 2016

First Impressions

Discovering Newcastle’s own multilingual library was a pleasant surprise and as someone with an interest in languages who loves a good library, I only wish I’d discovered it sooner. Hidden away on the top floor of Eldon Garden, The Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library seems a world away from a busy Saturday on Northumberland Street and the shops below as the countdown to Christmas commences and I was thankful for its peaceful ambiance. 

My first visit was only supposed to be a look round (honest!) but I was definitely drawn in and found myself saying “I’d like to volunteer” almost straight away. The room itself is decorated beautifully and is definitely an instant calming influence. However, what is more impressive is the 7000 books in over 65 languages (and counting) that have been given a new home there. 
The library has books and resources for language learners and enthusiasts of all levels and the regular story time events and selection of children’s books mean that even the youngest linguists won’t miss out. 

I start volunteering tomorrow so I’ll have finished my first day volunteering by the time this appears on the blog. I should say at this point that this is my first ever blog post. I haven’t written much other than university assignments for what feels like a long time, so please be nice. I’m very much looking forward to my first day and I’ll be sure to update you all soon on how it went. In the meantime, here are some testimonials from some friendly Facebook users. I hope they persuade you to pay us a visit or even a return visit very soon. 
I stumbled across this hidden gem by pure chance today... It certainly seems like a very precious place which I am pleased to now be aware of... I will spread the word about the many words tucked away in this novel little nook.”

Fantastic resource in the heart of Newcastle where a warm welcome and a wide range of literature in many languages awaits!”

This is a really lovely space to enjoy books of different languages and cultures. It's great to have such a unique initiative here in Newcastle. This is a must visit for language lovers.”

The Library is a lovely, charming place. I am so grateful for such places in Newcastle, this one made me eventually truly get to like the city!”

An amazing resource for lucky people in and around Newcastle. I love it!”

I’m looking forward to meeting the library’s regular visitors as well as some new faces, so please come and check out the books and resources available at The Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library*.
*Pun 100% intended! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Emma Collingwood
14 November 2016

1 May 2016

Crystallization Day

On 28 April, our Patron (yes I DO want to use a capital letter as his endorsement is so important to us) David Crystal came to give a talk at the Multilingual Library. It is printed here with his permission. It does not reflect some of the very complimentary things he said about the library, but once we upload the video, you will be able to hear that as well. 

Why multilingual libraries matter

I spy, with my little eye, two words beginning with ... L.
It's a languages library.

L proves to be an interesting letter in English, because it introduces so many words strongly associated with the venture you have launched here: Literature. Languages. Living. Loving. Lending. Learning. Leisure. Legacy ...
How best to capture the spirit, the ethos, the value of libraries? Over the centuries, people have marvelled at them. They have been called a temple, a refuge, a second home, a leisure centre, a discovery channel, an advice bureau. It is a place where you can sit and draw the shelves around you like a warm cloak. When we gain a library we gain a source of wellbeing. The inscription over the door of the library at the ancient city of Thebes read (in classical Greek): 'The medicine chest of the soul'.
The lauding of libraries crosses centuries and cultures. First and foremost they are seen as repositories of knowledge, windows into history. 'A great library', said Canadian scientist George Mercer Dawson (1849-1901), 'contains the diary of the human race.' And especially when it is multilingual. 
The metaphor of a library as a treasure trove is a recurrent figure. Let's bring together some famous personalities, and see what they have to say. Here is British poet and journalist John Alfred Langford (1823-1903): 'The only true equalisers in the world are books; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library.' And Malcolm Forbes (1919-90), the publisher of Forbes magazine, is in no doubt about the appropriateness of the wealth metaphor: 'The richest person in the world - in fact all the riches in the world - couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.' And this is writer Germaine Greer (1939- ): 'libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy'. For Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) it transcends life itself: 'I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library'.
I like the reservoir metaphor - a library as a source of knowledge, waiting for us to simply turn on a tap. Like water, libraries are essential to our wellbeing, whatever our language background. As the American social reformer Henry Ward Beecher (1813-87) said, 'A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.' It is a means of self-improvement, of advancement. Or, as poet and humorist Richard Armour (1906-89) put it in 1954:
Here is where people, / One frequently finds,
Lower their voices / And raise their minds.
And it brings together people from all walks of life.
Listen to the claim made by American cardinal Terence Cooke (1921-83): 'America's greatness is not only recorded in books, but it is also dependent upon each and every citizen being able to utilize public libraries.' Listen to American astronomer Carl Sagan:
The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.
Listen to science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov (1920-92):
I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.
Have you noticed? I've just quoted from a Roman Catholic cardinal, a scientist, and a science fiction novelist. All sending out the same message. There can be few subjects like libraries to unite such disparate and distinguished minds. 
As the British politician Augustine Birrell (1850-1933) once said: 'Libraries are not made; they grow.' That takes time. Behind each library, no matter how small, is a history of growth, watered by the professionalism of the library's caretakers and the enthusiasm of its readers. It is not an enterprise that can be measured by numbers. It is quality that counts, not quantity. No political body should fall into the trap of judging the success of a library solely in terms of the number of its visitors. That lone reader in the corner: who knows what personal potential will be realized in the future because of today's library experience? As American poet Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) said: 'What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else - is the fact that it exists.' If it exists, it will be used. And French writer Victor Hugo (1802-85) sums it up: 'A library implies an act of faith'.
And a multilingual library most of all, because of all the benefits that knowing more than one language can bring.

Bilingual benefits
It's normal to be bilingual. When we look around the globe, we find that three-quarters of the world’s population use at least two languages in their everyday lives, and half use at least three. Only a few nations - chiefly those who once had powerful colonies - have stayed monolingual. To be bilingual is the usual human condition.

You will still meet people who hold old-fashioned beliefs about bilingualism. You might hear somebody say that trying to speak more than one language will make your brain tired. Or that the two languages will get mixed up. Or that knowing two languages will slow you down when you're doing your schoolwork.

None of these beliefs are true. The brain has over 100 billion connections (called neurons) that it uses to receive, store, and send information. A language doesn't take up much of that brain space. People who speak languages like English and Spanish use only a few dozen sounds, a few thousand ways of making sentences, and a vocabulary of a few tens of thousand words. That might seem like a lot, but the brain handles it all easily. The evidence lies in the millions of people around the world who speak three, four, or five languages in their everyday lives without any trouble at all. And then there are the super-language-learners, who can handle twenty or thirty languages without their brain exploding. And anyone can be a super-language-learner. You just need a really good reason for learning each new language.

Many research studies have shown that learning more than one language is good for you - and learning lots of languages is especially good for you.

Being bilingual helps you to think more powerfully
Languages make people think in different ways. When you're speaking Spanish you think in one way; when you're speaking English you think in a different way. The mental exercise of moving from one language to the other makes your brain more active. It makes you more creative. It helps you solve problems more easily. And researchers have found out that being bilingual helps your brain to stay healthier when you grow old.

Being bilingual helps you to understand the world better
Language exists so that we can talk about the world to each other, and talk about ourselves and our feelings. Each language does this in its own way. The way Spanish talks about the world is different from the way English does. Every language, no matter how few speakers it has, tells us something unique about the way the world works. So, the more languages you know, the more you will come to understand what it is to be a human being on this planet.

Being bilingual helps you to feel proud of yourself

If you find yourself in a country where you don't speak the language, you're like a baby who can't talk. Learning another language, even to a limited level, removes the frustration of being unable to communicate when you find yourself in a place where it is spoken. You also feel you've really achieved something. You're right to feel proud of yourself, when you've learned another language.

Being bilingual helps you build friendships
We live in a world where a war can start because people have misunderstood each other. Learning each other's language can be an important step towards achieving cooperation among countries. Interpreters and translators are essential, but they can't replace the sense of mutual respect which comes from personal linguistic ability. Being able to speak someone else's language is the first step towards making them a friend.

Being bilingual stops you being scared of languages
The more languages you know, the more you come to understand how language works. You stop being frightened of languages and you find new languages easier to learn. You also become more aware of the characteristic features of your mother-tongue. English-speaking people often say they learned a lot about English grammar by seeing how it differs from other languages.

Being bilingual improves your social skills
Learning another language is to learn another culture and another way of behaving. As a result, bilingual people develop a broader range of social skills, and become more outward-looking. They are also likely to have a greater respect for the differences among cultures, and that can only be a good thing in a world where there is so much conflict.

Being bilingual can get you a better job
For most people, this is the best benefit of all. These days, many companies are international, and are looking out for people who can speak more than one language - and, even more important, who aren't frightened of learning new languages. These companies know they'll be more successful selling goods if they can do this in the language of the customer.

So, a multilingual library has a lot to celebrate. And perhaps at no better time than on the two big days of the year: Mother-tongue Day on 21 February and the European Day of Languages on 26 September. But the rest of the year too.

© David Crystal 2016

24 April 2016

David Crystal to become our Patron!

On Thursday 28 April, world renowned linguist, author, editor, lecturer and broadcaster David Crystal will come to the Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library in Eldon Garden to give a talk entitled Why multilingual libraries matter - David Crystal reflects on why libraries are so important, and why multilingual libraries are the most important of all.
As of that date, he will also become Patron of the library.

The library, which opened in August 2015, is run by local charity, The Kittiwake Trust. It currently has approximately 5000 books in more than 60 languages (and Geordie) and over 200 members. The library is run by volunteers and up to now has done no publicity apart from word of mouth, flyers, a single-page website and a Facebook page. Priority has been given to unpacking and arranging the books, training the volunteers and talking to as many of the visitors as possible in order to find out what is most needed.

Having David Crystal as Patron is a huge honour and his visit will be the first public exposure of the library. Since it has been operating for several months, it didn't seem right to call the event an 'opening' – it is more accurate to say it is becoming definite, becoming delineated, taking shape, falling into place, developing, taking on character, becoming visible, becoming a reality – in short, it is crystallizing.

Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library
27-29 Eldon Garden (Upper Level)
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RA
Thursday 28 April 2016, 3pm

31 March 2016

Polyglot Paradise

❝If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.❞
‒Nelson Mandela
This blog is written by the people at the Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library.

We're going to bring you juicy bits of information about languages and places and peoples and words and worlds, about maps and music and cultures and .......

We may ask some of the library visitors to write a blog - many of them have wonderful stories of their travels or of information about languages
There are plans afoot for wondrous happenings at the library, so keep your ear to the ground and your eyes on the prize.

Visit the library at Upper Level, Eldon Garden, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RA or at the very least read about it on the website www.multilinguallibrary.org.uk
Hang out with the people who love the library on Facebook: Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library
Become a part of it.