- Date: 14 August 2012
- Artform: Literature
- Region: National
The Reading Agency is a national charity with a mission to inspire more people to read. In this project it explored the potential of multi-author events in libraries. The aims were:
Innovative collaboration with publishers and bookshops and user involvement in originating ideas for content, programming and activities were key success factors.
The library services consulted with reading groups who put forward ideas on content, programming and discussion points. Children helped to plan the event in Bath and design the invitations.
Four events were delivered:
Worksop - Girls' Night In, with Fiona Walker, Jojo Moyes, Amanda Brookfield and Jessica Ruston
Of the four events, Girls' Night In was the most popular, fun-packed night out. It drew a near-capacity crowd of 80. The event was mostly attended by a mix of Dinner and a show, and Family and community focused - mothers in their 60s with their daughters in their 30s and 40s - spending time with their friends and family and accompanying them to events.
The library service encouraged local businesses to support the event: Sainsbury's provided the catering, The Body Shop provided free hand massages and sold their products, and W H Smith sold the books.
This event was effective in attracting new audiences into Worksop library, an area with high levels of deprivation and very few arts and cultural opportunites.
'It was all very informal, and all four authors were really amusing and articulate speakers. It was like going out with a group of friends'
Bath - Chatterbooks Roadshow, with Jeremy Strong, Elen Caldecott, Steve Voake, Tamsyn Murray, Kat Whelan and Richard Jones
50 children aged eight to 12 from Bath, Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire and Bristol took part, each with parents/carers, in a fun and action-packed day with five authors, plus bookselling and signing.
Bristol - crime panel, with Tim Weaver and Michael Robotham
40 people attended this event. The two writers had never met before, but there was a great rapport between them and the audience particularly appreciated the middle section of the evening where the two of them discussed the business of writing, and compared notes about their techniques.
Over half the audience met the profile of Dinner and a show. Participants said they particularly valued the informal atmosphere which allowed them to feel involved. They also enjoyed the insights into the writers craft and their approaches to writing thrillers.
Ivybridge - Readers' Day, with Lesley Pearse, Elizabeth Buchan and Christina Hopkinson
55 people attended this commercial women's fiction event. 80 per cent of the audience were older women with low levels of active participation in arts activities. The majority of them belonged to a local reading group but rarely attended 'live' events. However, feedback from the audience suggests they are likely to attend similar events in the future.
Those attending particularly appreciated meeting 'the face behind the words' which they felt 'added another dimension to the reading experience.'
'This was my first experience of an author event and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It was great to mix with other people and hear different opinions.' Event participant
These events allowed people to:
Feedback from these events has been very rewarding and will help to inform local event strategies. Following Girls Night In The Reading Agency is talking to Random House about further events.
Using learning from planning and running the events, The Reading Agency hopes to run further Chatterbooks Roadshows and author events, working with more publishers in different areas of the country.
The project has produced an event toolkit for use by libraries wanting to run similar events. This will become part of a training package to be offered by The Reading Agency.