Time to Read Blog

Protest: Stories of Resistance in the North West

Posted Wednesday 12 July 2017 by Becky Harrison in Opinion

From the Peasants’ Revolt, all the way through to the anti-Iraq War demo in 2003, people from all walks of life in Britain have been marching, picketing and occupying their way to social justice and, while recorded history favours the rich and powerful, it is often the overlooked grassroots movements that incited the dialogue for change.

Peasant's Revolt: It's all over for Wat Tyler

Protest: Stories of Resistance celebrates these marginal histories, bringing together authors and historians (or real witnesses in the case of the recent protests) to explore over 6 centuries of people power through factually-accurate fiction. Many of these protests have their origins in the North West, so as a publisher whose proud home is that very region, we’re delighted to be able to bring these stories to national and international audience.

Sandra Alland’s story, for example, excavates the little-known history of The National League of the Blind, the first union ever based on an identity, rather than a profession. Set in a blind persons’ asylum in Manchester in the early 20th Century - where people were overworked, underpaid, and often abused in the name of “charity” - the story leads up to the monumental National Blind March, which saw people join together in protest from Manchester, Liverpool, Oldham, and even as far as Dublin. A funny and sharp-tongued story, ‘Kick Start’ not only brings to light the unfair conditions for blind people at that time, but also examines the other ways that people were marginalized, as the women were not allowed to march with the men.

The significance of Manchester to the Women’s Suffrage Movement is no secret, but Michelle Green’s story goes behind closed – locked, actually – doors into a prison cell, where women were taken after being arrested for doing whatever means necessary to get the vote. Inspired by the likes of working class Suffragettes like Annie Kenney, ‘There Are Five Ways Out of This Room’ paints a picture of mistreatment, solitude, but inevitably, hope.

Canal StreetManchester’s Gay Village as a symbol of freedom of expression is used to literal effect in Juliet Jacques’ story ‘Never Going Around’, which follows a young student who moves to the city, and in doing so begins to not only embrace his identity, but fight for it as well. 2017 may well mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of being gay in the UK, but the infamous Section 28 act, which banned schools and local councils from the “promotion” of homosexuality is still in very recent memory, only being dropped in the early 2000s. This story shows the enduring spirit of the LGBT community in the North West, and reminds us how far we’ve come, and how far we also need to go.

The Big Issue described Protest as providing a ‘glimmer of hope and inspiration’ in today’s political climate, and we hope that the stories in the anthology further serve to inspire and unify the people of the North West. We’d recommend this to readers who like political or historical fiction, short stories, or non-fiction and memoir, as well as anyone with a taste for revolution.


Becky Harrison is the Engagement Manager of Comma Press, overseeing marketing and publicity campaigns, as well as managing the National Creative Writing Graduate Fair, the annual event for aspiring writers which will return to MMU in November.

New e-book released showing the importance of public library computers

Posted Tuesday 4 July 2017 by Ian Anstice

Short Stories from the People's Network

Computers in public libraries: Local examples tell a national story

A new book highlighting the importance of the Peoples Network – the national network of free internet-connected computers in public libraries – will be officially launched at the CILIP conference in Manchester. Detailing the experiences of library staff and users in ten Local Authorities, Short Stories from the People’s Network demonstrates how computers in libraries continue to offer their communities a lifeline for many critical tasks that can now only be achieved with internet access.

The book is published by Lorensbergs, provider of netloan library PC software, and endorsed by CILIP, the library and information association. It was conceived and published as a response to the persistent need to support internet access for those lacking digital literacy skills, home computers or broadband. Despitesome assumptions that it’s now easy for everyone to get online, the evidence from these accounts points to a service that remains absolutely essential to its millions of users.

Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive, who provides a foreword to the book, says:

“As it approaches its 20th anniversary, it can be easy to forget just how essential the Peoples Network really is. At CILIP, we’re committed to achieving a thriving library and information sector at the heart of Britain’s social, cultural and economic life. The People’s Network is at the very core of that vision, providing millions of hours of supported internet access every year. I hope that this fantastic book drives more recognition and support of this much-needed part of our national digital infrastructure.”

The book has been warmly welcomed by library heads and campaigners for raising the profile of an essential national resource. As well as evidencing the work undertaken by libraries in advancing digital skills nationally, it provides examples of how computers and other technologies in libraries inspire their customers with code clubs, 3D and wireless printing, and a trove of online reference materials. The e-book version is available at www.lorensbergs.co.uk/short-stories-from-the-peoples-network.

The CILIP Conference takes place on the 5 and 6 July in Manchester. It brings information, library and knowledge professionals together to discuss, understand and share insight into the key issues for the sector. Keynote speakers include Dr Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress, and the first African American and first female to be appointed to the prestigious role; Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the Oxford Internet Institute; and Neil MacInnes, Strategic Lead for Libraries, Galleries and Culture at Manchester City Council.

Rochdale Lit Festival - first names revealed

Posted Tuesday 4 July 2017 by Ian Anstice in Events

The first names on the line-up for this year’s Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival have been revealed.

The seven-day festival in October will feature talk show legend Sir Michael Parkinson, comedian and novelist Jenny Eclair, and Manchester poet Tony Walsh aka Longfella.

Michael Parkinson will be looking back at his life and career interviewing many of the most important cultural figures of our time. With his son Mike, he will show highlights from the Parkinson archive, and provide an opportunity to get an entertaining and informative look at his remarkable journey from a pit village in Yorkshire to the top of the famous stairs on his chat show set, while re-living the best moments from a show which defined Saturday night for millions of viewers over many years.

Jenny Eclair, who performed a sell-out show at Middleton Arena during last year's festival and vowed to return, will be back in more intimate surroundings talking about her new collection of short stories -'Listening In,' based on the BBC Radio 4 Series 'Little Lifetimes.' The book comprises tales from the mouths of many different (mostly furious) middle aged women!  In 1995 she became the first female solo winner of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival's prestigious Perrier Award. A regular on radio and television ever since, she voiced the thoughts of Grumpy Old Women for years and is also the author of another 6 books including 'Life, Death and Vanilla Slices'. 

Tony Walsh, one of the UK's most renowned performance poets, is also on the line-up and will be writing a new poem especially for the festival.  His poignant reading of 'This is the Place' in Albert Square after the Manchester bombing is being turned into a book for charity. Tony, or 'Longfella' as he is also known, is quite literally a giant of the performance poetry scene. His work has been published internationally and he's a multiple award-winner. A regular on television and radio, his trademark mix of intimacy and controversy, comedy and tragedy has been stunning audiences from poetry gigs to international literature festivals for the last 15 years.

The festival will run from Tuesday 17 to Monday 23 October 2017 and we're promising another packed week of exciting arts for all ages.

Events will cover drama, comedy, poetry, spoken word, visual arts and children's shows. For young people aged 14 to 25, another 'Generation Z' programme is being put together.

Councillor Janet Emsley, our Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture said:

"5 years in, our wonderful festival continues to inspire and entertain, attracting some fantastic guests. It brings together so many genres and really makes you think. We're going to be taking the festival to different places around the borough too, showcasing more great venues. I want to thank our sponsors for their continued generous support of the festival which helps us to deliver a fabulous event we can all be proud of."

The festival will include guest speakers and writers and is aimed at celebrating and promoting the Maskew Collection of classic literature and philosophy at Rochdale Central Library, encouraging people to engage with books and ideas. Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, met in Rochdale Library in the 1950s and left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.

'our wonderful festival continues to inspire and entertain, attracting some fantastic guests'

Further details of the programme will be announced next month and tickets go on sale from 10am on 7 August 2017 from the festival website

For festival updates on Twitter connect with @RochdaleLitFest

The festival is organised by us, supported by the Maskew Bequest and sponsored by The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and creative digital media company - JGM Agency

If you're reading well then you're Reading Well

Posted Monday 3 July 2017 by Ian Anstice

The Reading Agency, the national charity inspiring people to read for pleasure and wellbeing, and The Society of Chief Librarians have launched a new strand of the acclaimed Reading Well Books on Prescription programme into English libraries. The new scheme focuses on supporting those living with long term conditions such as arthritis, bowel conditions, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Available from English public libraries from July 2017, the scheme aims to provide millions of Brits with the tools to better understand and confidently self-manage their conditions.

The new 28 title book list of health information, self-help and memoir has been developed by the charity and expert partners to offer guidance and factual support to those living with illness and their carers. Research shows that people see their library as a safe, trusted and non-stigmatised place to go for health information.1 Between the pages of the recommended books, people living with long term conditions can find answers to some of the questions that may be on their minds – from dealing with pain, fatigue and sleeping problems, to relationships and mental health and wellbeing. 

A recent survey revealed that people are almost as likely to use search engines to access health advice as they are to visit their GP.2 With a huge amount of misinformation on the internet, Reading Well provides an alternative trusted source of information and advice that people can feel confident accessing. 

Created with the support of a number of leading health organisations and those with lived-experience of the conditions featured, the booklist offers an accredited medical alternative to the infamous Dr Google.

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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