Cumbria Libraries 2010
Time to Read has been promoting the reading of historical fiction and non-fiction around the north west region with Pages Ago, and history has been very much the theme for some of our recent readers' events here in Cumbria...
Rations and Remembrance: A Community at War.
Grange Library 1st - 5th November 2010
(Photo: Rations and Remembrance at Grange)
Library turned back the clocks to 1944 as they took part in an exciting community project entitled 'Rations and Remembrance'. This was an intergenerational project which recreated the realities and outcomes of war using authentic reconstruction and reminiscence.
The community came together in 2010 just as it had done in wartime, through a celebration of history, literature and culture.
Children from all seven local schools experienced the realities of wartime living when they were "evacuated" to Grange library, where they experienced air raids, rationing, food, clothes, music, and entertainment and also had the chance to interact with older volunteers from the community who talked about their own personal experiences of war.
A reconstruction company, Pegasus WW2 Displays, was based in the library for the week and ran teaching sessions and demonstrations.
Children involved in the project read stories about World War 2 and helped to write a newsletter, Grange 1944, which was printed and delivered to 5000 homes in the Cartmel Peninsula.
Older members of the community contributed to the project by writing down some of their Home Front memories which will be included in a special resource pack to be made available for local schools to use in the future.
Home Guard drill sessions were run by a local ex-soldier while Year 9 pupils at Cartmel Priory learned some wartime dances as part of the project.
The library held a celebration of the week's work for the local community on the evening of Thursday 4th November and then on Friday 5th November the library hosted a World War 2 coffee morning which included a 1940's sing-along.
Just as communities came together during wartime, once again the local community worked together to bring this project to life.
Grange Library, Grange Toy Library, Cartmel Peninsula Extended Services and local volunteers all worked as partners to create 'Rations and Remembrance'.
Nella Last in the 1950's: Further diaries of Housewife, 49
(Photo: Maggie Norton dressed as Nella Last)
Cumbria Libraries were approached by Profile Books to hold a launch event to mark the publication of Nella Last in the 1950s - the third volume of Barrow housewife Nella Last's Mass Observation diaries.
The first two volumes of her diaries - Nella Last's War (1939-45) and Nella Last's Peace (1945-48) were extremely successful. The first volume was made into a BAFTA-winning drama, Housewife, 49, written by and starring Victoria Wood (who has also optioned the rights to the second book). Victoria Wood did all the research for the drama at Barrow Library in the records office and local studies section.
The launch event was held on 14th October and celebrated Nella's legacy as a bestselling Cumbrian writer - although she was not published in her lifetime, Nella wrote in her diaries that she dreamed of being an author, and her diaries have had quite an impact on 20th century British - and women's - cultural history.
The event was extremely well attended and included readings from the diaries by Maggie Norton (a local writer) who dressed the part and made a very convincing "Nella".
A 1950s reminiscence session was also held which stirred lots of memories for those taking part, and there was also the opportunity to view displays which linked to the book, put together by Library and Record Office staff using archive materials from the records office/local studies collections.
Nella's original diaries are now held in the Mass Observation Archive at Sussex University and over the 30 years she contributed to the Mass Observation project, she wrote an estimated 10 million words, making her diary one of the longest in the English language.
Pages Ago author events with Deborah Swift
(Photo: Cover image for The Lady's Slipper)
Author Deborah Swift appeared at 3 Ulverston, Barrow and Penrith libraries in November, to talk about her new historical novel, The Lady's Slipper, with enthusiastic and appreciative audiences at all 3 events.
Set in 17th century Westmorland just after the restoration of the monarchy, The Lady's Slipper is a tautly plotted read which explores the themes of love, prejudice and the desire to possess something rare and beautiful (the rare Lady's Slipper orchid of the book's title).
Using books taken from the library shelves relevant to her research, Deborah talked about how she had set about researching her novel, and this approach seemed to encapsulate what Pages Ago was all about, demonstrating the link between historical fiction and non-fiction. Her enthusiasm for some of the non-fiction titles must surely have encouraged the fiction readers in the audience to think about giving them a try!
Events for younger readers
(Photo: Children's author, Andy Newbound, signing books at Penrith Library)
Meanwhile, our younger readers have not been forgotten and during October half term, children's writer Andy Newbound appeared at several libraries around the county talking about his books.
His novel, Demon Strike, is the first adventure in a new, spooktacular, comic fantasy series about battling angels and demons. The book is filled with fabulous comic characters, including psychic ghost-busting 12-year-old adventurers Allanah Mallara and Wortley Flint, together with rookie A.N.G.E.L police officers, Flhi Swift and troopers, Yell and Gloom - and some unspeakably villainous demons from the dark-side.
He has also written "Cosmic Capers" for younger children, coming out soon.
At each event he engaged with all the young people who attended - from 6 year olds to teens - and the time went by in a flash.
Reading Groups for Older People
Reading Groups for Older People is a Lottery Funded project in West Cumbria which is delivered by Cumbria Libraries. The project, which began in June this year, focuses on work with older people in residential homes and day services in both the Copeland and Allerdale areas, and in particular the Workington, Whitehaven and Millom areas.
The aim of the project is to help older people in residential and day care rediscover books and reading. Two project co-ordinators - Anne Steele and Anne Carruthers who are based in Whitehaven Library - visit groups of older people in care settings with a variety of resources including books, poetry, pictures and music to stimulate conversation and unlock memories. The collections are themed, with Gardening and Cumbria proving particularly popular!
One of the key outcomes of the project is improved mental well-being for the older people involved, and the reading group activities contribute towards this by helping to increase social interaction and mental stimulation, and helping build confidence and self-esteem.
Although the project is in the very early stages of delivery it has been very well received by residents, care home managers and their staff, and plans are well in place to continue the roll out across the Copeland and Allerdale areas.
If anyone would like further details please contact: