Librarians' Virtual Toolkit
Time & Location
About the event
Please register to attend the event at this Eventbrite link
The Librarians’ Virtual Toolkit – Working with Readers in Interesting Times
An afternoon of talks and presentations about working with readers and reading groups. Presented in partnership with Libraries Connected West Midlands & Libraries Connected
Thursday 5th November, 2020, 14:00 – 16:00 GMT
(Chat Room open from 13:30 GMT)
Live on the West Midlands Readers' Network YouTube channel, and archived there afterwards.
Tickets: Free, but please register here to attend
The Librarians’ Virtual Toolkit
In these interesting times, working with readers has never been more important. The Librarians’ Virtual Toolkit is an afternoon of talks and presentations about easy, clever and creative ways of keeping readers and reading groups involved and engaged with public libraries. Speakers will include library staff, booksellers, writers and others with an interest in reader development.
The Librarians’ Virtual Toolkit is presented by the West Midlands Readers’ Network (WMRN) in partnership with Libraries Connected and is supported by Arts Council England. The event will be broadcast on YouTube and archived afterwards. There will be a chat room to allow questions to be put to speakers. Most of the event will be live with some pre-recorded material.
Tickets are free but registration is required to receive the YouTube link. Those registering can join and leave the event at any time. The event is aimed at library staff across the West Midlands (England) but guests from around the country (and the world) will be welcome.
13:30 GMT Chat Room Opens
Our YouTube Chat Room will open (and will remain so across the afternoon), a chance for those attending to say hello.
14:00 – 14:05 GMT
Welcome: Angela Hicken, Project Manager, WMRN; Jonathan Davidson, Project Director, WMRN.
A few words of welcome and some useful information from Angela Hicken and Jonathan Davidson of the West Midlands Readers’ Network (WMRN).
14:05 – 14:10 GMT
Reading Opportunities: Isobel Hunter, Chief Executive, Libraries Connected
To open our discussion, Isobel Hunter, will briefly outline some of the opportunities presented to libraries for working with readers as a result of the pandemic.
14:10 – 14:30 GMT
Working with Reading Groups: Liz Gardner, Stock, Services & Activities Officer, Staffordshire Libraries & Arts Service; Mirka Duxberry, Library Development Manager, Shropshire Council; Angela Hicken, Project Manager, WMRN
How have libraries worked with readers and supported groups during lockdown and under new restrictions? How have groups responded and libraries stayed in touch? We discuss digital and online offers, working with the WMRN and other partners, audience development opportunities and planning for the future. Angela Hicken is in conversation with Liz Gardner from Staffordshire and Mirka Duxberry from Shropshire Libraries.
14:30 – 14:50 GMT
Working with Readers: Independent Bookshops and a Residency: Susan Fletcher, Writer; Mog Giacomelli-Harris, Warwick Books; Angela Hicken, Project Manager, WMRN
Warwick Books' Mog Giacomelli-Harris discusses the challenges and creative responses her bookshop has made in lockdown and beyond. Angela Hicken is also joined by award-winning novelist Susan Fletcher as she shares her current Reader-in-Residence project with the shop and WMRN, and brings us a wider writer's perspective to new ways of working.
14:50 – 15:10 GMT
Funding for Library Projects with Readers: James Urquhart, Senior Manager, Arts Council England; Stella Thebridge, Principal Librarian: Schools and Reading, Warwickshire Library Service; Jonathan Davidson, Project Director, WMRN
Arts Council England funds much creative activity in public libraries. Guided by its Let’s Create strategy, funding is available for projects that support people engaging in creative activity around books and reading. This session will look at examples of funded projects and at how best to present an idea for Arts Council England funding.
15:10 – 15:30 GMT
Making Things Happen: Simon Savidge, Project Manager, BBC Novels that Shaped Our World library partnership, Libraries Connected; Nikki Bi, Programme + Participation Lead, Civic Square
Simon Savidge is the person behind the book blog and Youtube channel Savidge Reads, as well as having being involved in many other initiatives to support libraries and readers. He will be in-conversation with Nikki Bi, who has over fifteen years’ reader development experience in public libraries and was the inaugural recipient of the national PPC Librarian of the Year Award, an award established within the publishing industry recognising the work that libraries do with readers.
15:30 – 15:45 GMT
New Stories for Writers: Abda Khan, writer; Julie Taylor, reading group member; Angela Hicken, Project Manager, WMRN
New Stories for Writers is a project that commissions a set of bespoke short stories inspired by reading groups that the writers are matched with. We hear from novelist Abda Khan talking about her commissioned story and Julie Taylor from the Stratford based group she partnered with. Abda is also in a Birmingham multi-faith reading group that was selected to receive a story and so has witnessed this project from both sides. More commissions will follow, maybe a group you work with could apply?
15:45 – 15:55 GMT
Summing Up; Ideas for Action: Catherine Mann, Libraries & Arts Manager, Staffordshire Libraries and Arts Service
Having followed the afternoon’s presentations and discussions, Catherine Mann will offer a brief summing up of what was learned and propose from ways forward for public libraries in the West Midlands and beyond.
15:55 – 16:00 GMT
Farewell: Angela Hicken, Project Manager, WMRN; Jonathan Davidson, Project Director, WMRN
A thank you to everyone and any final pieces of information from Angela Hicken and Jonathan Davidson of the West Midlands Readers’ Network (WMRN).
Speakers & Presenters
Nikki Bi, Programme + Participation Lead, Civic Square
Nikki Bi is currently Programming + Participation Lead at Civic Square in Birmingham. Civic Square has recently transitioned from Impact Hub Birmingham and is in the heart of a neighbourhood. She has 15+ years reader development experience in public libraries and was the inaugural recipient of the national PPC Librarian of the Year Award, an award established within the publishing industry recognising the work that libraries do with readers. Nikki curates a regular programme of book events, film nights and festivals challenging dominant narratives. She has a keen interest in all things concerning representation, gender equality and community. @ThatNikkiBi
Jonathan Davidson, Writing West Midlands
Jonathan Davidson has spent many years encouraging writers and readers to be creative. He is Founder of the Birmingham Literature Festival and Founder and Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands. He is Chair of the National Association of Writers in Education, serves on the Advisory Groups of The Poetry Business and Out on the Page and on the Governance Committee of the Birmingham & Midland Institute. He is a Fellow of The English Association.
Mirka Duxberry, Library Development Manager, Shropshire Libraries
Mirka Duxberry is one of the Library Development Managers, leading on adult learning, reading, digital and health and wellbeing development and has worked for Shropshire Libraries for over 15 years. She has an overview of the network of 160 reading groups across the county and promotes benefits of libraries to partners and community. As the Chair of Poetry on Loan and one of the CRW Dagger in the Library judges, she believes in a power of stories, reading and language. With her Human Library Book Depot Manager’s hat on, she champions safe spaces where people can openly discuss topics to challenge prejudice, stereotypes and stigma.
Susan Fletcher, Writer
Susan Fletcher was born in Birmingham in 1979. She studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, and lives in Stratford-upon-Avon. Her first novel, Eve Green (2004), won the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award and the 2005 Betty Trask Prize. Her second novel, Oystercatchers, was published in 2007, and her third, Corrag, in 2010. Corrag was shortlisted for the 2010 John Llewellyn-Rhys Memorial Prize. Since then she has written The Silver Dark Sea (2012) and A Little in Love (2014), her debut teen novel inspired by the Victor Hugo classic Les Misérables. Her latest novel is House of Glass (2018).
Liz Gardner, Stock, Services & Activities Officer, Staffordshire Libraries & Arts Service
Liz Gardner has worked in libraries since 2002, having formerly been a teacher, and has been with Staffordshire Libraries since 2007. Part of her current role is to manage the Reading Group Service to which over 200 groups subscribe. As well as supporting the groups to use digital means to keep on meeting during lockdown, Liz set up Staffordshire Libraries’ Book Chat Group and Staffordshire Scribblers creative writing group on Facebook for the county, both of which have continued to go from strength to strength. With colleague Hilary Riley, Liz is also co-host of Staffordshire Libraries’ new monthly online author event, A Season of Reading, which is supported by West Midlands Readers’ Network.
Mog Giacomelli-Harris, Warwick Books
Mog Giacomelli-Harris was born and brought up in Warwick and having trained and worked in Theatre Design spent some time working in Italy and France for a youth charity. Since 2015 she has been joint-owner of Warwick Books (www.warwickbooks.net), the town’s only independent bookshop. As well as stocking an eclectic selection of wonderful books, Warwick Books also run author events and is part of WMRN's Reader-in-Residence project.
Angela Hicken, West Midlands Readers’ Network
Angela Hicken was Portsmouth’s Reader Development Librarian before joining Hampshire County Council in 2006 as a Literature Development Officer, working across libraries, arts centres and less traditional venues to devise and manage literature events and local writer development opportunities. She worked closely with The Reading Agency on its Reading Partners consortium. Angela was an Advisor to the Winchester Poetry Festival Board from its inception until 2018 when she made the move to the Midlands. Angela also works part-time as Marketing and Operations Manager at Nine Arches Press.
Isobel Hunter, Libraries Connected
Isobel Hunter is the first Chief Executive of Libraries Connected. She was formally Head of Archives Sector Development at The National Archives where she served a national constituency of 2,500 archives. During her time there, Isobel led the development of Archives Unlocked, a new government vision for archives with a plan to address resilience, digital capacity and impact in the sector. She believes that libraries are central to people’s lives and communities across the country and is committed to working with members to help develop and advocate for the public library sector.
Abda Khan, Writer
Abda Khan is a lawyer turned published author. She writes fiction which deals with challenging subjects, such as ‘honour’ abuse (as featured in her novel Stained, published in 2016, and described by Booklist as the ‘contemporary Tess of the d’Urbervilles) and modern-day slavery (explored in her latest novel Razia, published in July 2019). She is currently working on her next novel.
Catherine Mann, Staffordshire Libraries & Arts Service / Libraries Connected West Midlands
Catherine Mann began her career at Coventry Central Library and moved to Staffordshire as Mobile Librarian in 1990. She has held a variety of roles across Staffordshire Libraries and has been the Libraries & Arts Manager since 2011. As a former Branching Out participant, Catherine has retained a strong focus on Books and Reading and now leads the Universal Library Reading offer for Libraries Connected.
Simon Savidge, Project Manager, BBC Novels that Shaped Our World library partnership, Libraries Connected
Simon is the person behind the book blog and Youtube channel Savidge Reads. He founded the Green Carnation Prize, has been a talent scout for Orion Publishing, and a judge for the Guardians’ Not the Booker, Fiction Uncovered and the Costa Book Awards. He has written for the Bookseller, Waterstones, the Guardian and The Independent and hosted literary events at bookshops and festivals across the UK and in the USA. He is the chair for the Portico Prize, has presented on Sky Arts and can be heard monthly on the Sarah Brett Show on BBC 5 Live. He is a passionate lover of books, reading and libraries, and previously worked for Liverpool Library Service where he led on commercialisation, retail, marketing and events, covering 19 libraries including HMP Liverpool.
Julie Taylor, reading group member
Julie Taylor is a member of Mary’s Book Club, based in Stratford, and currently celebrating its 5th year. They have a core of seven members with additional guests joining us at meetings. They enjoy the challenge of reading things they wouldn’t necessarily choose. Members select a book for each monthly meeting, where they enjoy snacks and drinks with robust discussions. Members have themselves written poetry, short stories, novels and technical text. They are an enthusiastic bunch from an array of backgrounds with lots of ideas plenty of humour and great enthusiasm.
Stella Thebridge, Warwickshire Libraries & Information Services
Stella Thebridge is Principal Librarian: schools and reading with Warwickshire Libraries, managing the Schools Library Service (SLS) for half her time and overseeing reader development activities for all ages for the remainder. She has a background as a librarian in a range of sectors including research. For ten years Stella has been Warwickshire's rep at ASCEL - the body that incorporates both SLS Managers and senior children's librarians in public libraries - and she is currently Chair, a great privilege as it enables her to attend all sorts of wonderful national events and launches in the children's book world. She is an avid reader and ever mindful of the duty of a public library not only to encourage inside those who might not have ventured across the library threshold, but to add value to visits for loyal borrowers, so that they not only have a range of stock from which to make their reading choices, but events and experiences that entertain and enhance their enjoyment and understanding of literature and the wider world.
James Urquhart, Arts Council England
With a background in reading and writing, James Urquhart spent 9 years as a bookseller and 15 as a freelance literary critic before joining Arts Council England in 2010. Currently he has the national role of Senior Manager, Libraries and Literature and is based in Nottingham.