Tag Archives: Birmingham

Birmingham Libraries in Trouble


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Library of Birmingham (photo by me)

So what I had feared is happening. Birmingham, yes, cannot really afford its lovely new library. I was concerned from the beginning (well sort of) that the opening of a fancy, new, and- yes- expensive library would effect the libraries in Birmingham as a whole.

First the hours were cut and staff were let go. Now apparently new fiction is not being bought- there’s just no budget. I fact reportedly some Birmingham libraries have been asking for donations for their shelves.

I love the Library of Birmingham. It is a beautiful building, and of course all the books. However I never really saw a problem with the old one at least it terms of it’s purpose as a library. You couldn’t exactly call it beautiful, but it had books, and places to read them, which is the important thing really. It’s nice to have a library which isn’t a concrete monstrosity, but I’d rather have the old old library back based on the pictures I’ve seen, apparently at the time it was too ‘showy’ though, and the knocked it down when the ugly new library (of the time) was built.

Victorian Library (source)

The Library of Birmingham is probably the library I use the most (there are others closer to home, but I travel through town every day. It is certainly a nice library to have as my main library, although the decreased opening hours have meant that it’s often already closed when I am travelling through town on the way home.

That fiction is being cut I think really shows the attitude that libraries and reading are a luxury. Is this true though? Whilst non-fiction may be more intellectually enriching, fiction is, at least generally speaking, more emotionally enriching. Is that the type of society we really want? Where intelligence is rated above compassion or empathy? Plus reading has been shown to have good effects on mental health which is surely a good thing.

Old central library (source)

Again it is the poor that are getting hit. Those for whom the library is their only, or their main source of books. I am lucky. I can afford to buy more books than I really ‘need’. I have a pile of books waiting to be read which could last me a few months, and enough Waterstone’s points to buy three or four books if I’m really desperate.

However I remember a time when I used the library a lot. I did much of my studying for my GCSEs there, and spent a lot of time there during my holidays. I was a frequent visitor at the school library. If it wasn’t for the library- and yes, especially the fiction section I wouldn’t be the reader I am today.

Reading isn’t a luxury. Reading is a way of life, and in a world where there are so many other things to distract potential readers shouldn’t we be putting more into our libraries, not taking away from them. Books create a person, books are a lot of what I am, not just a reader, but my personality too. I hate to think of a world where this access to self is lost.

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Birmingham Indepedent Book Fair


I visited the Birmingham Independent Book Fair on Saturday, and I promised a post about it on twitter, so here we are.

The fair was hosted at the Ikon gallery,  run in conjunction with Writing West Midlands,  and featured a number of independent publishers and self-published writers from in and around Birmingham. I must admit I didn’t realise there were so many publishers in the area.

The publishers and authors were:

Twin Books | Fringeworks | Flarestack Poets | William Gallagher | Boo Books | Pigeon Park Press | Cinnamon Press | Silhouette Press | Cannon Poets | Shadow Publishing | TJB Books | Offa’s Press | Black Pear Press | The Alchemy Press | Ellie Stevenson | Nine Arches Press | Gingernut Books | Crowded Quarantine | Foxwell Press | Fair Acre Press | Five Seasons Press | Cassowary Press

Unfortunately we got to The Ikon a little later than intended and a couple of the stalls had already closed, having said that the majority seemed to be selling the types of books I don’t tend to read; crime, horror, poetry, short stories.

We did however visit a few stalls and found some things of interest.

The Pigeon Press stall was by far the most interesting. It was run by two of the authors; Heide Goody and Iain Grant.

What first attracted us to the stall was Heide’s map. She’s in the process of creating a map of places in the Midlands which feature in literature. I was able to add Ruby’s Spoon to her map. She’s hoping eventually to make an app. with the map so you can look up places where you are and see if there are books set there.

We bought a copy of the collaborative books between Heide Goody and Iain Grant Clovenhoof and Pigeon Wings, both of which look like they will be rather amusing. The boyfriend thought they sounded like they would be in a similar vein as Good Omens. I haven’t read that so I couldn’t really comment.

Just noticed the placing of the badge of Pigeonwings…

 

There were a lot of collaborative pieces from Pigeon Park Press actually which is interesting. I’ve always been interested about how the interaction between authors and each others characters work, seeing as authors tend to know more about their characters than is in the actual books.

 

What else? Cinnamon Press seemed interesting for writers. They hold lots of writing competitions, which I may enter if I ever finish my NaNoWriMo novel.

I also talked to Tom Bryson. It was interesting to talk about his writing process. He seems to go in for a lot more planning than me, and jumps around writing key scenes before linking them, which might actually work better, I’m not sure. My joining sections do tend to be my main problem.

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