Hertfordshire Council News

30 Aug 2022

Introducing Tala – a new character to inspire the newest generation of visitors to Hertfordshire’s libraries

Introducing Tala – a new character to inspire the newest generation of visitors to Hertfordshire’s libraries: Tala The Storyteller
  • Designed by newly graduated local artists, Tala will replace Bookstart Bear
  • The new character will be used to inspire families with babies and young children to visit Hertfordshire’s 46 libraries
  • Libraries are also launching ‘My Firsts’, a way of celebrating key milestones in the lives of little ones

From September, there will be a new addition to the Hertfordshire library family, as ‘Tala the Storyteller’ is unveiled. A bright, vibrant creature, Tala is set to capture the imagination of babies and young people making their first foray into the wonderful world of reading.

The new character was created by local, newly graduated artists Emma Phillips and Eva Povey using funds from an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant. Through creative workshops with families they were able to find out what appeals to young children in Hertfordshire and used these ideas in their designs.

Tala will be the star of Hertfordshire libraries’ new promotion ‘My Firsts’ to inspire families with babies and young children to visit the library regularly, to borrow books and to join in with the variety of early years family activities, such as Rhyme Time.  

From 1 September, children from newborn to aged five who join the library will receive the new ‘My First library card’ and a special keepsake certificate. 

Starting school is another key milestone and all children starting nursery or reception in September are invited to visit a Hertfordshire library to be awarded their My First Day at School certificate to celebrate this new adventure.

Further certificates will be created following feedback from families, but to date, future ‘My First’ certificates include:

  • My first tooth
  • My first storytime
  • My first birthday

Councillor Terry Douris, Executive Member for Education, Libraries and Lifelong Learning said:

“Reading books and singing rhymes with young children is crucial to early years development. It helps children to build their language skills, imagination and understanding of the world. Reading regularly to children, particularly at a young age can have a positive lifelong impact, benefiting their health and wellbeing, creativity and education.”

“Libraries are at the heart of our Hertfordshire communities, evidenced by the recent poll of residents which revealed visiting a Hertfordshire Library or attending a library event was their top thrifty adventure. It’s my hope that Tala will be taken to the hearts of our younger library visitors and will inspire Hertfordshire families to explore the wealth of free resources on offer from books, audiobooks to group activities such as story time and rhyme time.”  

Speaking about their design, Tala’s creators, Emma and Eva said:

“What inspired us most was the children’s own designs at our workshops in the libraries. We were particularly impressed at how creative the children were at such a young age. They helped us to understand what children liked best in a creature.

“All their weird and wonderful creations helped us think outside the box to create a vibrant new character that would resonate with this new generation of readers. 

We hope that families love Tala as much as we loved creating them!”

Notes to editors

1, The development of Tala, along with the ‘My First’ campaign forms part of Hertfordshire’s Inspiring Libraries: My Place strategy which aims to make our libraries vibrant community assets for all that help to enrich the lives of all.

2,The name Tala was chosen as has it has a variety of meanings across multiple cultures:

  • Story, Tale and to tell a tale in Polynesian languages, including Samoan
  • Gold in Persian and Farsi
  • Star in Arabic
  • Noble in old German
  • Little wolf in Native American
  • Bright Star in Filipino

3, If you read a child a book a day from being born to the age of five, it equates to nearly 2,000 books (1,825 in total) – that’s a lot of words, pictures and ideas to stimulate their imagination. For free!

4, The cost of purchasing 1,825 books would cost in the region of £12,000.

5, Baby Rhyme times and Storytimes are free to attend across Hertfordshire Libraries.

6, Visiting a Hertfordshire Library or attending a library event was voted as the top 50 thrifty adventure by Hertfordshire residents in a poll carried out in August 2022.  

7, A new character was required as the national figure used by the BookTrust which had been in use by our libraries for 17 years has been discontinued.

8, A soft toy helping bring Tala to life for toddlers and young children attending library events is in development and will be deployed to libraries later in 2022.