It’s not often that I make it across the Trent to West Bridgford but I was there on Saturday along with Nicola Monaghan, John ‘Brick’ Clark and Adrian Reynolds for the last of our summer readings at their newly refurbished library.
The library has had 5.3million invested into it over the past couple of years. 3.4million of this went on a refurbishment, making it a truly beautiful modern space. It’s spacious, has light flooding in from windows and is definitely somewhere I imagine people would want to spend their time. It was busy as well, with a constant flow of people.
Dawn of the Unread is interested in how libraries can become a focal point of the community again and West Bridgford is certainly a model worth replicating. They have involved the local community in numerous ways but two features in particular stand out. One area is used for displays enabling local organisations to put up art exhibitions. It currently has art from local schools meaning that children and young adults will visit in order to see their work, and hopefully pick up a book while they are there. It also has a recording space, offering another use for the surrounding area, a performance space and most importantly, a young people’s centre. It’s a little odd then that the first thing you see when you enter the doors is a sign for the registration of births and deaths.
The librarians did an excellent job in marketing our talk with framed posters of our event neatly positioned on relevant shelves and between books. When you consider this is also a very affluent area you would think that our talk would have been well attended. It wasn’t. We had one person attend, a retired lady who had never read a comic in her life.
Now before jumping to conclusions it’s worth noting that prior to the talk I popped over to Waterstones to say hello to Danny Rhodes, the author of FAN, which tells the Hillsborough story from Forest’s perspective. He had nobody turn up for his book signing despite it being the 25th anniversary of Hillsborough and writing for a market which is generally very strong. It was another ridiculously sweltering hot day and I think this is the reason both of us had such a poor turnout.
Nicola Monaghan rightly pointed out in the comments stream of a previous blog that marketing an event as too high brow could be alienating for some communities, such as Worksop, but I think our pitch was right for the ‘Bread and Lard Island’ brigade. It might be worth trying again in autumn as an evening reading when there are less distractions and the nights are cooler.
But we did have one attendee and this was a roaring success as we were able to tailor our talk to her needs. Firstly, we completely changed our format and got some graphic novels out from the shelves and Brick explained the process of creating a comic. She was oblivious to the creative process involved in creating a comic and so we were able to explain the various roles of letterer, inker, artist, writer etc. We also gathered around her so that it was an intimate chat rather than sitting at the front and half scaring her to death.
We ended up chatting for longer than our scheduled hour and best of all, Brick recommended a graphic novel to her which she loaned out. I may not have got the downloads I was hoping for from the young people’s centre but a member of the public discovered an entirely different medium and effectively broadened her reading CV. Incidentally, the library has the best collection of graphic novels I’ve seen in Nottinghamshire, perhaps because of being linked to the young people’s centre, so hop on the number 6 bus opposite the Viccy Centre and help support this investment.
Library League Table for our readings…
West Bridgford 1
- Eco Houses: West Bridgford in Transition (becohouses.blogspot.co.uk)
- Dogs Help Young Children to Read (westbridgfordschoolreport.blogspot.co.uk)
- You are What You Donate (clipofmilvain.blogspot.co.uk)
- Buy the Book – Killed by Kindle (rectorsblog.wordpress.com)
- On Books (rullsenbergrules.blogspot.co.uk)
- Letter to an Unknown Soldier (library.nottinghamhighblogs.net)
- Back on the Bike (brickbats.co.uk)
- The Writing Process Blog Tour (dannyrhodes.net)