Calling all local artists 0-18: The Library Lobby needs your help

The Library Lobby, the Sutton Coldfield community group campaigning to keep a lively, well-resourced, widely used library in the town centre of Sutton Coldfield needs your help!

sutton coldfield library lobby

Could YOU design an eye-catching poster to raise awareness of the proposed closure of the library by Birmingham City Council?

The group are looking for poster designs (any size, any medium) to use on their website, twitter and facebook accounts to highlight why we need to keep a library in Sutton town centre, and what our library means to us.

Three winners will be selected from all entries, one each in the following categories: 0-7 years, 7-11 and 11+, with quite literally hundreds of pounds of books up for grabs.

Winners will be chosen by the award-winning, Sutton Coldfield born illustrator John Shelley. Shelley, who has illustrated over 40 books and who is especially well known in Japan and the USA gave The Library Lobby this message of support:

“For me, libraries have been at the core of my development as an artist and creativity. When I was a child, there were few books around me at home, I discovered the joy of reading, of imagination through the library service.

My first library was Mere Green branch library, the children’s library there was well stocked with fantastic fiction, that lifted me from an unimaginative and relatively non-literary life at home into world of adventure. Then as a teenager I used Sutton Coldfield library on a very regular basis. The library was absolutely crucial in developing me as an illustrator, and encouraging my ambitions. My favourite sections were the non-fiction sections on art and on history, but it was also the library that allowed me to discover folklorists like Katherine Briggs, natural history, Medieval illuminations, illustrators like Thomas Rowlandson and Aubrey Beardsley plus a lot of 17th/18th Century and Napoleonic history, a broad range of topics that mushed together, binded, unwound and re-configured to influence the way my art and creativity developed today.

For me the library was a safe-zone, it was my world, I was in charge of what I browsed and experienced, and librarians helped me find these paths. In a library you can explore on your own terms – you follow paths not set down by school lessons or parental TV choices, and all of this at an impressionable age, when knowledge resonates so powerfully. Incredibly, this fantastic resource is free to use. I literally would not be what I am today without Sutton Coldfield library.

We’re now in a digital age, there are other ways to experience books, the web of course.. but the internet is a different experience. It’s said that only 70% of information absorbed online registers in the brain compared to a printed book. But this is not just about books, the library is still at the core of a community. Whatever the media, however people access it, whatever facilities it maintains, it’s all knowledge. The location of a library is still the hub of a community, the personal world for readers, thinkers, artists. It’s the only physical place where individuals can grow their personal interests from child to adult.

That is worth hanging onto.”

John Shelley’s support for the campaign to save Sutton Coldfield library service comes hot on the heels of messages of support from two further award winning authors, Alex Wheatle, winner of the 2016 Guardian children’s fiction prize, and Roald Dahl Funny Prize winner Philip Ardagh.

Alex Wheatle said:

“Leave Sutton Coldfield library alone! A library is a service where the public can educate themselves and read about the world. Why would anyone deny that right to the good people of Sutton Coldfield?”

Philip Ardagh commented:

“A public library without paid, qualified staff isn’t actually a library it’s a glorified bookstore. I fully support the campaign to save Sutton Coldfield library service, particularly after the monumental waste of millions of pounds on Birmingham’s unmitigated disaster of a central library. Local people need local libraries. #SaveLibraries”

Alex Wheatle’s novel, Crongton Knights, won the Guardian children’s fiction prize just last week. It is the first major literary award for the 53-year-old author, who published six adult novels before turning to young adult fiction. Philip Ardagh has written more than 100 books including adult fiction and children’s non-fiction but is perhaps best know for his Grubtown Tales.

To Enter The Campaign Poster Competition

Please email a photo of your poster to:

by Monday 19th December. Please include the age of the person who designed the poster. If you wish to include their first name you may do so; we will not use full names in our publicity.

By entering this competition, you agree to use of your poster, whether it is chosen as the winning design or not, by The Library Lobby across all media.

If you are under 14 you must obtain parental consent to enter this competition.

Winners will be contacted by email on Wednesday 21st December, with books delivered (if you are a Sutton Coldfield resident) in time for Christmas (Books will be posted to any winners outside the local area, and may not arrive before Christmas).


The winner in the 0-7 category will win:
The Ultimate Book of Space by Anne-Sophie Baumann and Olivier Latyk
The Great Fire of London by Emma Adams and James Weston Lewis
Usborne Lift the Flap First Questions and Answers: How do flowers grow?
The Hello Atlas by Ben Handicott and Kenard Pak
DK Knowledge Encyclopedia: Animal!
Discovering Dinosaurs by Simon Chapman, Rudolf Farkus and Mike Love
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Buster’s Christmas by Lucy Feather and Sam Usher
(Worth over £100 pounds)

The winner in the 7-11 category will win:
Cooks & Kids 3 by Greg Wallace
Secrets of the Sea by Eleanor Taylor and Kate Baker
Rebel Science by Dan Green and David Lyttleton
Survivors by David Long and Kerry Hyndman
Bear Grylls Survival Camp: The Ultimate All Terrain Training Manual
Bear Grylls Extreme Planet: Exploring the Most Extreme Stuff on Earth
Ruby Redfort: Blink and you Die by Lauren Child
The Bolds by Julian Clary (a signed copy)
(Worth over £100 pounds)

The winner in the 11+ category will win:
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Wave by Paul Dowsewell
The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi
Black Light Express by Philip Reeve
(Worth over £40)

We are able to award these prizes thanks to a generous local anonymous donor.