Friday, 30 April 2010

Pages Ago is developing

So its the end of April and nearly time for the Pages Ago promotion to be launched. I feel as if some progress has been made this week, though there is still plenty that could be done. Quite a few library authorities have been telling me about their plans. Bolton Libraries have put some confirmed events up on the website. Wirral have planned an ambitious Victorian themed day for July. I had a very productive meeting in Liverpool's World History Museum this week and they are keen to work with the library service there. We were also delighted to hear in Manchester that Bernard Cornwell will make a rare appearance here during the big Readers Day/Historical Novel Society conference weekend which is very exciting.

But the more that gets organised the more I think of things which still could be done. For example I've just had the notion of collecting together information about all the historical reading websites and blogs out there which deserve more readers. I'm sure that there's work to be done researching and listing them all.

In the land that is the crossover zone between work and leisure I am trying to build up my own reading of historical fiction. I just finished Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold, a fictionalised interpretation of Charles' Dickens family life and treatment of his wife. While slightly overlong and a bit repetetive, I enjoyed this and found it a very interesting expose of how married women at the time had no control of their own circumstances, in this case to the extremity of losing contact with much-loved children.

Next I'm going to read some Roman History from Robert Harris, then I must read a Lindsay Davis in preparation for introducing her in Chester; the list will grow and grow this year.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Pages Ago

Well- I am now settled in my new office. Still some teething problems with the phone, but otherwise beginning to get used to things in my new surroundings.

So this week I have managed some concentrated effort on the Pages Ago project which will launch on May 18th. Display headers are ordered, the launch and a big Readers' Day in Manchester are organised, guests are starting to be invited to the launch, a writing competition is set up. It would be great to hear from some of my colleagues in NW Libraries about ideas they are discussing for their Pages Ago activity. If you want to share any thoughts this might be the place to do it.

On the Move

Well- its been an eventful week in the on-going history of Time To Read, I have been moved to a new office, along with many of Manchester Library Service's "back office staff". Its been a big change for me and for the first time in my career means I am no longer physically based in a library. So no more instant access to books for me, no more browsing the shelves or displays to come across something I didn't know I wanted at (occasional) odd moments during the working day.

In fact I've suddenly become more like a real public library user. I will now need to plan my visits to a library and fit them into my busy working life. I'll need to remember to write down the names of books I want to read and take my lists with me, or increasingly reserve my books on-line and remember to pick them up.
Perhaps this will give me a new perspective on my local services. Are they open at times when I can get to them outside my own working hours? are they located in the best places for me? are the displays enticing when I walk in? do the staff treat me differently if they don't know I work for the service?

It would be great to hear from some other people out there who work for library services, but don't physically sit in libraries. Has this made a difference to your own reading habits? Has it given you a new perspective on the services you deliver?


This is the new blog for Time To Read. For anyone who doesn't know, Time To Read is a partnership of enthusiastic people working in public libraries in NW England, trying to develop the audience for reading. Time To Read members have lots of good ideas, loads of experience collectively and plenty of opportunities to share information with each other. We meet together every 2 months and of course the Time To Read website is an opportunity to showcase activities they are particularly pleased with.

Sometimes, however, Time To Read members want to discuss opportunities and ideas with each other before they get down to detailed planning. This blog area is intended to allow for more general discussions and general airing of opinions, without having to wait for the next meeting.

Views expressed on this blog will be the personal views of library practitioners. They won't officially reflect the opinions of employers, specifically local authority management. I personally hope that some contributions will reflect the impact that our reading activities have on readers and ourselves. There are so few opportunities for us to record some of the positive feelings and emotions which our "work" inspires. For me, there is no greater reward from organising a visit by a writer to a library than hearing audience members say how much they were inspired and motivated by the speaker. Audiences should leave wanting to read more, do more in their local area and visit libraries more often.

In the meantime, the role of reading as an Art form, is clearly moving up the radar. I found out today about what looks like a sizeable event taking place in Manchester over 4 days in early April. I read that "Reading for readings sake aims to unfold the activity of reading, the situations in which we read, reading as a shared event, a private passion, concentration, interpretation, sound and voice, the symbolic and emotional value of the act". Sounds fascinating and I will try to get along to some of it and report back here.