DolphinBookBox returns

DolphinBookBox - services from SmithMartin image
All our services in one place…

We have recently re-energised our oldest brand, DolphinBookBox. Some 10 years or so ago this was the delivery mechanism on-line for our community library and book delivery service.

What we have found recently is that, after over a decade of development, our Partnership ‘elevator pitch’ – what is it you do? – was getting longer and longer.

To stop our meeting attendees glazing over, as if they would, we have recompiled the BookBox web site and converted it into a feature suite for our miscellany of Partnership projects and services.

There is a logic to our Partnership offering, with inter-connected themes for all our work.

Our print and design service keys into our community web service, our project management efforts around community buildings key into our skills in governance and policy advice.

Our children’s book business delivery synergises with our international on-line contact project Books go Walkabout, which itself feeds projects into our publishing house activities for new eBooks and recharged back catalogue creation….and so on.

You can see the connections all on one website here, at

SmithMartin LLP – diverse connnectivity and services for your project.

Summer redesign…

SmithMartin LLP, project design and delivery...
SmithMartin LLP – taking a refreshing view of your project…

As the summer holidays become a memory in 2013 we have brightened our Autumn reading by installing and loading a fresh new design and layout for ChangeThinking, the news and reflection website for SmithMartin LLP.

We hope we have made browsing the range of our content on the main page easier, with a much more prominent Read more… button to take you to the full articles that interest you.

The individual articles still offer our usual suite of images and downloadable content wherever applicable.

Don’t forget you can check out our other core services at the Partnership, which we have listed below. As the Autumn gets busier and the projects in hand become more pressing as budget finals loom in the Spring, don’t forget that our range of expertise will have some professional support for your social business, school, charity, young people and children’s service or community web need.

SmithMartin LLP:

Project management and development expertise, helping devise governance and management strategy for social business and community projects of all sorts. We have strong expertise in evaluation, social business planning and governance in both charity, education and business settings.


Our community web business, strong in ethical design, hosting and content creation for charities, schools, education settings and social businesses.


You can buy retail children’s books on-line here. We also devise, procure and install all equipment and books for school and community libraries. We can also offer, through the baskets of DolphinbBookShelf , a great way to encourage reading, volunteer engagement and fund raising in any setting. Ask us how.

Books go Walkabout:

Our international authors and young people project. Using new technology to have real time conversations with writers and illustrators across the globe. See more here…

BgW is now a publishing house in its own right – we are always looking for authors with new writing, or  traditional print back-catalogue, coming out of licence, who wish to explore e-publishing and how to get their work into the electronic eco-systems of the major online retailers. Our current theme for 2013/2014 is Writing about AfricaAsk us about eBook publishing here…

Just a flavour of what our Partnership can offer and how our skills mix can help you deliver a development project, capital or revenue. We are alway happy to be the LLP which helps you see your project with new eyes, without any initial commitment.

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Technological Children’s Centres

A high definition screen in reception at Hornsey RoadWe have recently enjoyed being commissioned by Hornsey Road Children’s Centre in Islington to supply and fit their new IT suite and display screens.

The Team at Family Action were successful in raising funds to purchase from us a suite of new laptops, with an innovative mobile trolley to store and automatically charge them overnight, to add to the facilities in the training room and across the Centre.

Our installation team, led by our Technical Manager Doug Hopkins, also installed a new Promethean display board – allowing tutors in the Centre not only to access the screen with their own laptops, but to join the network with learners and to use the integrated interactive Active Classroom/Inspire learning and teaching suite that we installed on the Centre system too.

Doug also successfully installed a large, high definition screen in the Centre reception area, for which the creative team at Thirdsectorweb, using their design and graphics skills, now supply regularly updated DVD’s which play the Centre timetable and feature activities for all to see.

Sue Martin, a partner at SmithMartin said…

We think display for Centre visitors, that is current, timely and visually pleasing is a really important way to engage and inform people. Our solution, to install a simple DVD player is very, very cost effective and means that staff and volunteers have no complex learning to undertake in order to make our system work.

We use our economies of scale for graphics creation and DVD supply, which is complimentary for the Center with their installation, meaning there is no ongoing cost to the charity for our service. An important consideration in times of tight budgets.

The professional team at Hornsey Road were great to work with on the project, running a very successful Centre with a comprehensive, inclusive and supportive range of activities to support their care of children in the catchment.

If we can help improve your display, IT deployment or web information – then contact SmithMartin LLP for a chat, just to see what’s needed. We are always happy to talk to you.

World Reader and St Jordi’s Day in Barcelona

w reader


We had just met with Zev from the World Reader organisation at a World Literacy Foundation conference in Oxford. Some concepts just make sense form the start and this was our feelings for World Reader.

It works by loading a Kindle with over 300 books taking to Africa, direct to communities where the children have the chance to read! No more expensive lorry loads of slightly used books trying to find their way across the continent and then being stopped and refused entry.

This scheme actually works! You just need a small mind shift to know that children in Africa can access Kindles and benefit hugely from the supply of information at their fingertips.


The inquiring and smiling faces says it all. World Reader projects has some excellent photos. Read the stories of how empowering this project is for the whole family, Daniel and his grandmother are just one example.

We were invited to World Reader‘s new office celebrations and also to mark their ambition to get 1 million books into Africa. How amazing is that!

la ramblaOn St Jordi’s day in Barcelona the streets were full, the tradition is to mark the day of their patron saint by sharing gifts; the man to buy the woman a flower and the woman to buy the man a book.

At the SmithMartin Partnership we were delighted to celebrate with World Reader and look forward to being involved. It parallels and brings into one, our work with communities, children’s literature and modern technology solutions.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP Inspiring communities and Broadening Horizons

Dolphin Booksellers– the best in children’s books always on line

Steve Jobs How to Live before you die

Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, sadly died this week. Steve Jobs co-founded Apple with school friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. Initially based out of his family garage in California, the firm has grown into the world’s most valuable technology company.


Photo from Pixar Animations

Born in 1955, his student mother decided it was best for him to be adopted. Her plan for him to be son of college graduates was thwarted as when he was born, the intended adopted parents decided they would rather have a girl.

This info is from Stanford University as seen on TED – Ideas worth spreading. This is a beautiful video- needs watching!

Steve did get to college but dropped out when he realised that his parents were spending all their savings on his education. But he turned this into a big advantage, he went to calligraphy classes so he recognised and understood the beautiful typography that helped to make Apple great.

Apple – a huge company and success in beauty, technology and compulsive functionality.

BUzz Lt YrBut Pixar too, an animation company with success like Toy Story and Finding Nemo, using really expensive computer animation.

IPhones and IPads, amazing technology in beautiful products and used by millions.

Steve Jobs a man who had total belief in his own abilities.

His great gifts were an ability to second guess the market and an eye for well designed and innovative products that everyone would buy.

A man who followed his intuition and his heart.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP- bringing technology into communities

The web and education – how we think about information

Michael Wesch of Kansas State University produces a continuous stream of films and concept refreshing ideas about information, education and the cultural power of the web.

The short film below offers the viewer some interesting insights into the way the web has changed how we will think about education, schools and universities in the future.

The Canadian media thinker Marshall McLuhan in the sixties saw that ‘…the school is the custodian of print culture’. Now, Wesch argues, the game has changed for institutions. People can read, wrie and publish their own reflections on the internet.

The Wesch argument is based upon the insight that ‘…the public now lives and breathes in a much larger sphere of information and knowledge’. He argues that education’s interface with technology should allow individuals to pivot their life course decisions by “…5 degrees”, in a way to release potential that would have been unimaginable before the advent of WWW.

The Wesch film also has a piercing shard of insight into the potential collapse of hierarchies. The abandonment of which schools and universities will probably find the hardest thing to achieve.

Wikipedia, populated with volunteered knowledge, is larger than the Encyclopedia Britannica. The web means, for Tim Berners-Lee, that ‘…the link is enough’. With enough hyper links the bookshelf, the hierarchy of knowledge becomes less important.

Not irrelevant, but in a way that allows the knowledge researcher to follow the nodes and synapses of a thought or idea – in a way which would be impossible in a traditional print library.

You can find Michael Wesch’s YouTube channel here, to see more of his film work around ‘digital ethnography’.

You can also find the Thirdsectorweb home page here. Our partnership service for schools and Children’s Centres. which helps to publish their information, knowledge and culture on the web.

Being brave with the budget! Websites…..

eve2Children’s Centres Budgets are getting close to the end of the financial year.

If you want to find a way to spend the last of the budget wisely giving benefit for many years ahead read on about Children’s Centre websites.

March comes round alarmingly quickly after the New Year. Finance officers, bursars and business managers will even now be making plans to make sure the last of the money is spent. That generally means by the end of February spending plans are committed.

This year no one is sure what the new budgets will bring. We can almost guarantee that they will, at best be a continuation budget.

What can be done to ensure that the good work continues? The people in the communities will still be out there, they know how good Sure Start Children’s Centres are.

At a meeting last week, a Dad who had been much involved with his children’s centre was speaking about his journey. From possibility of losing his children following a divorce he had been supported by the fathers worker at the centre. His life had really turned around.

His message was, ” Get the word out there!”

A parent’s forum recently said, ” A good website is the way to go. Everyone has access somehow. But they need to be up to date. We need to know what’s happening”

SmithMartin Partnership is committed to the best in websites for Children’s Centres. We design, host and deliver many sites. They are individually designed, updated weekly or monthly, and have many links, people can spend hours on them. One of the latest is Barclay Children Centre, Walthamstow.They even create a link between the UK and extended families all over the world. Grandparents for instance can find out what’s happening even though they’re miles away. Language is no barrier either, we translate into over 30 languages.

If you would like to talk to us contact

Sue Martin @ SmithMartin Partnership LLP – bringing innovation to communities

Entrepreneurship – social or otherwise

Europa have just released the latest 2009 state of entrepreneurship survey – which interestingly shows that 45% of Europeans would like to be their own boss, if they could.

The EU survey suggests that entrepreneurs are held in lower regard in Europe than their contemporaries in the USA.

The survey highlights the differing attitudes in the US, Europe and Asia to entrepreneurship, but does show that the preference for self-employment remained stable across all regions.

Women seem to lag behind men and young people as a cohort expressing a preference for self employment.

Those surveyed shared their opinions of entrpreneurial individuals as either ‘job creators’ or as ‘exploiters’.

What was not a feature of the survey, to its detriment we think, is factoring in social entrepreneurship or the context of social enterprise as a vehicle for community business change.

Perhaps if more Europeans knew more about social enterprise or social entrepreneurs,  or the impact the sector can have on communities – the range of relative levels of hesitancy to outright distrust of entrepreneurship expressed might be very different.

What do you think?

You can find the survey synopsis here.

The entry pages to the European Small Business Portal can be found here.

Home Access – technology for children


‘Home Access is the new Government programme which will help to ensure that more children in England have access to technology at home to support learning. Eligible low-income families (eligibility is based on the criteria for free school meals) with learners in Years 3 to 9 will be able to apply for a grant to buy a computer and internet package’.

It is intended that this new government initiative will benefit at least 270,000 households in the UK.

The packages offered to families also include assistive technology, to make sure access by young learners on-line is at its most effective.

Parents and carers can review information on the Becta website here. (Becta is the organisation dedicated to the innovative use of technology in education).

Schools who wish to actively participate in the programme can find Home Access information here.

Detailed information for parents, carers and organisations who wish to support the Home Access programme can be found here.