Friday, 21 January 2011

Pages Ago reviewed

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in Macclesfield & Bury, creative writing workshops such as Jo Bell's (pictured) Curses, Cures and Wills workshop using historical documents as inspiration, imaginative events such as Stockport's trip into Air Raid Shelters featuring staff in costume and carefully chosen readings, to my personal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.

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