Apologies that posts on this blog have been rather infrequent lately. As well as the distractions caused by trying to keep up with the news about threats to libraries nationwide and the growing numbers of campaigns and messages of support from writers, publishers etc, I have spent much of the last couple of months deep in surveys and evaluation reports.
One of the major reports I have been writing is an evaluation of the Pages Ago promotion, where this blog began back in April 2010. In terms of the number of events held and opportunities for writers to appear in libraries, Pages Ago has been the most successful reading promotion we have delivered across the North West's libraries. While my evaluation still isn't quite complete I am happy to report that because of Pages Ago there were at least 110 events which focussed on reading and writing about history, in NW libraries during 2010. Of these, at least 55 offered opportunities for writers based here in the NW to gain employment and promote themselves and their work. All these events were encouraged by Time To Read, the NW public libraries' reading network, and many were supported with Arts Council GFA lottery funding.
These events ranged from single writers reading from their books, such as Harry Sidebottom talking about his new Roman-set title in Macclesfield & Bury, creative writing workshops such as Jo Bell's (pictured) Curses, Cures and Wills workshop using historical documents as inspiration, imaginative events such as Stockport's trip into Air Raid Shelters featuring staff in costume and carefully chosen readings, to my personal highlights such as Manchester's Readers Day featuring 10 historical writers and the Big Family Book Day held in the Tenant's Hall at Tatton Park.
Many librarians who worked on Pages Ago have said that they found the historical theme a really fruitful one to work with. They enjoyed pairing up fiction and non-fiction books and found the range of potential writers keen to work with us, inspiring.
We are now in a new year which seems to be posing major challenges to us in public libraries. Time To Read's main task is to maintain the enthusiasm for promoting books and reading which was so clearly demonstrated through Pages Ago. To keep our spirits up we have decided to focus on Humour and will be planning our new activity over the coming weeks.
After what has been the longest Xmas/New Year break I have ever enjoyed, I am back at my desk and raring to go with a new year of reading and promotion of books/writers.
One thing I have just found time to do has been to review the stats of how many people are reading this blog and have been pleasantly surprised. Although not many people are leaving comments, the blog is being read in some surprising places. Can I just say hello to whoever is following this from S.Korea and Armenia!
For reasons which must remain under wraps I have spent Xmas reading romance. This has been a real indulgence. My understanding of the world of regency dress, manners and morals has till now been confined to what I've learned through Jane Austen. I now know far more than I did about the importance of the horse-racing world as a means to meeting new beaux. And Scottish lairds still exude the irresistible charisma which caused me to fall for my own scotsman more than 30 years ago. Pity he wasn't a laird with his own loch.
When my heap of romantic novels has all been read, I hope to spend much of 2011 seeking out and reading feelgood books with a humorous edge. Libraries here in NW England want to promote the reading of "humour" as a means to countering the economic gloom we all seem to be facing, especially here in public libraries. We intend to launch our hunt for the funniest book we have read. Details of this will follow in due course, but in the meantime if anyone wants to recommend a really funny read to take us cheerfully into 2011 please do so here or on our Facebook page NOW that's what I call READING.
Jane was the co-ordinator of Time To Read, a partnership of people working in public libraries in NW England, to develop the audience for reading.
She retired in August 2015 and is now very busy doing other things.