Posts by Ian Anstice

28 tales for 28 days

Posted Tuesday 4 September 2018 by Ian Anstice in Latest Libraries News

Refugee Tales and Comma Press are launching ’28 Tales for 28 Days’ (#28for28 ) on 11 September.

Rooted in the work of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group,  and supported by the University of Kent, Refugee Tales shares the tales of those who have been indefinitely detained in immigration detention. The UK is the only country in Europe that detains people indefinitely for administrative purposes without judicial oversight. To highlight the call for a 28 day time limit for immigration detention, Refugee Tales is releasing 28 tales online – one each day over 28 days on the website www.28for28.org.

Events for the book which have taken place across Manchester and the North West at various festivals and have always been well supported, and a number of the tales recorded for this project were recorded in Manchester with local actors such as Maxine Peake and Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Tales are collaborations between people who have experienced detention, or people who have worked with those detained, by writers such as Kamila Shamsie, Ali Smith, Neel Mukherjee, Jackie Kay, Marina Warner, Inua Ellams and Patrick Gale. They are read on film by actors such as Christopher Eccleston, Niamh Cusack, Zoe Wanamaker, Jeremy Irons and Maxine Peake making a call for an end to indefinite detention to a new audience. Crucially, at the end of 28 Tales for 28 Days, a tale will be read in Westminster taking the tales to parliamentarians who have the power to bring about legislative change and end the injustice of immigration detention.



Rooftop protests not recommended – Jenn Ashworth on the power of libraries

Posted Monday 9 July 2018 by Ian Anstice in Author blogs, Opinion

Jenn AshworthWe were very lucky to have Jenn Ashworth, author of several books including the most recent Fell, talking to the Time To Read group. She is a passionate advocator for libraries and a brilliant speaker so we all fell silent – not a normal thing in the meetings - when she started speaking. We were not disappointed.This is a summary from my notes that the author has checked.

"being she truanted in public libraries she gained a lot out of it"

Jenn started with her upbringing and a confession or two, for she had a “troubled and troubling” childhood and often truanted. However, being she truanted in public libraries she gained a lot out of it. “Libraries were a place to go for free and that were warm and safe” she said, saying they offered “a strange combination of safety and freedom”. The author found the time she spent skiving at the Harris Library in Preston as “a way to be part of the community”.

"The best things the librarians did for her was not telling her what to read"

The best things the librarians did for her was not telling her what to read. So she read everything, from  Jane Austen to Stephen King to a guide to how to get published simply because she did not know this was not the right thing to do. But the librarians did teach her one thing. Forgiveness. Jenn sometimes did not return books and repeatedly lost her library card but that did not prevent the library from allowing her to take out more, for which she is very grateful.

"She remembers forgetting she was in a library for a couple of hours due to that book. How had Melvin done that?"

Baby and Fly PieThere was a book, “The Baby and Fly Pie” by Melvin Burgess, which made as big an impression on Jenn than the forgiveness shown. Although it was a depressing dystopia, it allowed Jenn to be “lost in that world and not in mine” and that was what was so important for her at the time.  She remembers forgetting she was in a library for a couple of hours due to that book. How had Melvin done that? How had the book managed to transport her to a different world? Jenn had to find out. She stole the book from the library. 

"Authors can go to festivals to sell books but authors don’t go to libraries for that to the same extent. Talking to readers, in a way that libraries can facilitate, is why they write."

What libraries do is incredibly important and have life-changing effects. Authors are usually deeply and personally grateful to libraries and can be their biggest champions as a result. Libraries develop relationships with readers and the wider community in the way that other purveyors of books do not. The staff often have a unique personal relationship with readers and with reading groups. Authors can go to festivals to sell books but authors don’t go to libraries for that to the same extent. Talking to readers, in a way that libraries can facilitate, is why they write. A writer wants to make connections and want to write to explore what it is to be a human, messily in relationships with other humans, the landscape and the world - and to help the reader think about those things for themselves …  and libraries can be very helpful in that. The local connection libraries have are important. Jenn comes from the Northwest and knows that the region has a strong literary community that is under-represented in the publishing and prizes worlds.

Jenn at lecternThen there were some tips on how to get the best out of an author visit:

  • Be clear on what the author is doing, what they’re good at and what genre they write. For example, Jenn, like many others, finds the teenage age group challenging and would not appreciate discovering a group of teens being dragooned in to one of her talks.

  • Be clear to the author as to what you expect them to do and why you want them. If it’s for an end-of-year celebration for reading groups, who may not have read the author’s books, tell the author that and they will prepare very differently than if it is for a group of fans who have read every word of their writing.

  • If an event is pairing the author with another one, there needs to be a reason. Just availability or geographic closeness is not enough. The authors will read eachother’s  books and discuss them so there needs to be a thematic or other connection.

  • Make sure the branch library staff know who is coming and not to be afraid of them. Authors very rarely bite.

  • Authors need to make an entrance at the start of the talk to make the opening crisp Fell ashworthand obvious. For this reason, have them in a separate room (be it staffroom or broom cupboard) beforehand.

    "Authors know what libraries are like. They have not come for the building but for the audience."

  • Give authors advice on travel and parking. Think about how easy it is getting to the venue will be and offer to pick up from the station if necessary.

  • Get in touch with the author’s publicist as soon as you can. An author will give an image or two but the publicist can help with graphics, how to do publicity and social media.

  • Above all, get whoever is introducing the author to have read the book. The library staff have the personal connection with the audience and if they don’t have a connection with the book, the audience will see that and take their cue from them.

  • If an introduction is delegated to front line staff, make sure they want to do it and know what to do. A terrified introduction does not a successful event make.

Rooftop protestAuthors do not expect libraries to be swish. There’s no need to apologise for not being so or if the building is a bit small or grubby. Authors know what libraries are like. They have not come for the building but for the audience. They know that a library is not a place where people simply come to get culture but to make culture.

"a library is not a place where people simply come to get culture but to make culture."

Jenn then finished with a story. When she worked in a prison library, she talked about a book she had published. Her audience talked about her book and then offered to do a rooftop protest and show the book to the television crews filming it from helicopters. You don’t tend to get such offers from festival audiences. Those who attend library events tend to be more helpful. Although, of course, rooftop protests are not recommended.

Trafford WordFest

Posted Tuesday 15 May 2018 by Ian Anstice in Latest Libraries News

Wordfest 2018 runs during June. Events are being held in Trafford Libraries throughout this period. All are welcome to come to the events but booking is recommended.

Bird Boogie in the Library

Old Trafford Library, Thursday 7 June, 11am-2pm

Celebrate National Bookstart Week with a boogie at our silent disco in the library! When you fancy a sit down, there will be bird-themed crafts and colouring to keep the entertainment going. We'll also be giving away free copies of this year's National Bookstart Week book, A Busy Day for Birds to under 5s. Suitable for early walkers (dancers) upwards!

This is a free Wordfest and Chatterbooks event. No need to book, just turn up.. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Vaseem KhanAn evening with Vaseem Khan

Stretford Library, Wednesday 6 June, 7.30pm

Join us for an evening with Vaseem Khan, author of the bestselling The Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, as he talks about the latest in the Baby Ganesh series, Murder at the Grand Raj Palace.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

The Pankhursts and the Suffragettes

A talk by Janet Pickering from The Pankhurst Centre

Altrincham Library, Thursday 7 June, 7.30pm

This year we are celebrating the centenary of the act of parliament which gave some women the right to vote. The Pankhurst family from Manchester were leading suffragettes and founder members of the militant Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite . For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Oliver TearleBritain by the Book with Oliver Tearle

Hale Library, Tuesday 12 June, 2pm

Why was Agatha Christie investigated by MI5 during the Second World War? Why was Thomas Hardy buried twice? A multitude of curious questions are answered by Dr Oliver Tearle, author of Britain by the Book, a fascinating literary travelogue taking in writers' unusual haunts and the surprising places that inspired some of our favourite fictional locations.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Children's Author Jane Kerr

Urmston Library, Thursday 14 June, 4pm

Come and meet children's author Jane Kerr, author of The Elephant Thief, and discover more abut the amazing real life Edinburgh to Manchester adventure of Maharajah the elephant.

This is a free Wordfest and Chatterbooks event and is aimed at children aged 7+. No need to book, just turn up.. For more information please contact urmston.library@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Happy BrainThe Happy Brain with Dean Burnett

Sale Library, Friday 15 June, 7.30pm

After a hugely successful visit to Wordfest in 2016 with the acclaimed The Idiot Brain, neuroscientist, writer and stand-up comedian Dean Burnett returns to talk about his latest book, The Happy Brain.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Ashley DeyerCrime Scene: Call Forensics with Ashley Dyer

Altrincham Library, Wednesday 20 June, 7.30pm

How do the forensic experts deal with a crime scene and how do crime writers make sure they get the facts right? Examine the evidence at our 'crime scene' and chat with the writer and forensic expert who together form Ashley Dyer.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Sahera PatelMeet author Sahera Patel

Old Trafford Library at Limelight, Friday 22 June, 7.30pm

Sahera Patel is a British Muslim, teacher and public speaker. She has a passion for her faith and it is with this passion that she wrote her first book, the inspirational I'm not a Celebrity, I am a Muslim. In her latest book, Unveiling Arabia, Sahera writes about her experience of living and working in Saudi in a refreshingly vivid way.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Lucy Diamond An evening with Lucy Diamond

Urmston Library, Tuesday 26 June, 7.30pm

Meet bestselling author Lucy Diamond as she visits Wordfest for the first time to talk about her new novel, On a Beautiful Day.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Sonic Youth Slept on My Floor with Dave Haslam

Urmston Library, Wednesday 27 June, 7.30pm

Dave HaslamWe are delighted to welcome back former Hacienda resident DJ Dave Haslam as he talks to Abigail Ward from Manchester Digital Archive about his new book Sonic Youth Slept on My Floor, a masterful insider account of the rise of Manchester and the birth of the rave era.

This is a free Wordfest event. Book online at Eventbrite. For more information please contact libraries@trafford.gov.uk or phone 0161 912 3189.

Six minutes to less stress

Posted Tuesday 15 May 2018 by Ian Anstice in Opinion

6 minutesLook, I like a walk as much as the next person. Ask my dog. It's a very relaxing thing to do. As is having a hot drink or listening to music. But these activities have nothing on reading. And we have the scientific evidence to prove it.

Time To Read ran a campaign a few years ago about squeezing 6 Minutes reading into busy lives because it will make us feel better. It does this by focusing our thoughts, taking us away from distractions and helping us enter another state of mind. Watch our video about the research here.

Of course, we don't mean the hectic searching for facts that typifies our internet browsing. Nah, we mean slow reading. Slow reading is not about reading at a snail's pace, but about slowing down the pace of life to take pleasure in reading. Instead of rushing to the finishing, skimming text and missing large blocks as we down when reading text online.

coffee 6 minutesThat means you can feel seriously more relaxed by having a read in a café . Hmm, that café thing. I wonder if having a tea and a read gives you an extra stress discount? Worth a go I think.

Or you could find a use for some of that dead time that we all have in our lives, like when commuting. BusNext time you're on a bus or train, don't check your emails or look out of the window. Nope. Take out a book. Savour each page and get odd looks by sniggering at the ironic humour (if it's by Donald Trump at least). And, just think, by doing so, you'd have saved six times as much as if you'd played games on your phone instead. That's a saving of half hour every six minutes. Whoah, I've heard of the train taking the strain but that's ridiculous.

Or, look, you don't have to have me recommend a space. You can find your own but, please, find it. And live longer. And relax.

Toilet

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Parts of this  article come from a previous piece on slow reading and the six minutes campaign available here.

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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