Reading initiatives - Adults

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Regional literacy initiatives for adults

Reader recommendations

A Book with a View campaign

London Libraries, in partnership with Open House London and others, ran a pan-London campaign in summer 2007 called A Book with a View: writing inspired by world landmarks and landscapes. Library staff picked 50 titles to appeal to younger adults, based on everything from football grounds to graveyards to seascapes. The campaign was the London Libraries contribution to the BBC Breathing Places campaign and also included information about the summer reading challenge. A Book with a View also ran a photography competition alongside the campaign. For more information, visit London Libraries Development Agency, August 2007)

The Breathtaker project

The Breathtaker project - using readers in residence to recommend good reads to help people cope. The Breathtaker project, piloted from January to June 2001, involved two authors acting as readers in residence to choose three free books for individuals going through difficult times in their lives, and in need of a 'breathing space'. It was run by Booktrust using a grant of £17,500 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The participating authors, Maggie O'Farrell, author of After You'd Gone (Headline Review) and Alex Wheatle, author of Brixton Rock (Black Amber Press), worked closely with the two agencies taking part in the pilot scheme: Birmingham Community Safety Partnership and the Suffolk Community Education Service. The agencies identified up to 100 individuals in their respective communities who would benefit from receiving a tailor-made package of books and referred their clients to the readers in residence. The clients filled out a questionnaire, answering such questions such as 'What is your favourite film?' and 'Where would your ideal holiday destination be?' From this, the readers-in-residence were able to build up a reader profile, and followed up with a phone conversation, before choosing the three books. Contact 020 8516 2993.

Ask Chris - Essex Libraries reading recommendation service One of two grants from the DCMS/Wolfson Fund 2000 (£67,358) was awarded to Essex Libraries to provide a readers' friend who knows just the book for you and can give ideas about different types of reading no matter what your interests. 'Ask Chris' is a powerful combination of reader-to-reader recommendation and library staff enthusiasm, balancing technology with the personal touch. Contact 01245 284981 or visit visit Ask Chris

Booktalk - spreading the word about good reads

Essex Libraries are supporting all their libraries with Booktalk via a network of reader development 'champions' around the county. Many libraries now have a Booktalk group or chain and there are numerous community-based groups plus groups in sheltered housing and chains for housebound people. A Booktalk newsletter is published. Contact

Reaching the homeless

Telling Our Stories - reaching out to the homeless Newcastle Adult Basic Education service launched Telling Our Stories , a communications course for disadvantaged and homeless people during the National Year of Reading. It was initiated after a care worker at the Blackfriars Care Centre,inspired by the inclusive nature of the National Year of Reading, contacted the Newcastle Literacy Trust . Participants on the course became reporters for Newcastle Community News.

Doncaster Community Arts Street Library

Doncaster Community Arts (darts) celebrated the achievements of its National Year of Reading funded project with the launch of the Street Library. This included publication of a set of postcards, a cassette and a booklet under the title Moving On that feature a range of contributions from people with experience of homelessness. Contact 01302 341662.

Shropshire libraries focus on the homeless

Shropshire libraries used their £23,775 DCMS/Wolfson 2000 grant to provide a library service to homeless people in Shrewsbury offering advice and recommendations about books and reading. It included a small programme of literature based events of author visits, performance poetry and storytelling. The project complemented an ongoing programme of improving the literacy skills of homeless people at the drop in centres in Shrewsbury. Feedback from this project is used by the library service to ensure that the needs of homeless people are taken into account when planning the service's future.

Family learning

Helping parents support their children's literacy Barking and Dagenham Libraries used its £60,000 grant from the DCMS Public Libraries Challenge Fund 2000 to strengthen their contribution to family learning by running a project to increase the use of libraries by parents and their children with a particular emphasis on supporting adult reader development. A Family Reading Librarian worked with colleagues from Adult Education and the Community Inspection and Advisory Service to run courses in 40 primary schools to help parents to support their children's literacy. Contact 020 8227 3611


Bibliotherapy project promotes the health benefits of reading fiction DCMS/Wolfson 2000 funding (£45,000) enabled Kirklees Libraries to promote the health benefits of reading fiction to health professionals, people using health facilities and library staff. 'Bibliotherapists' worked alongside health professionals in local areas of social need. They 'prescribed' books and promoted the benefits of reading for relaxation, reducing stress, anxiety and depression working peripatetically to forge links between libraries and health centres. Using computers to access book databases and the library catalogue, doctors and health visitors were encouraged to 'prescribe' library tickets as an alternative to drugs. The Bibliotherapists held 'reading pharmacies' in libraries, where new members could collect their 'prescriptions' were introduced to the library. Reading groups developed skills, give support and raise health related issues in a relaxed setting. Key staff were trained in the benefits of reading for health and general awareness of what the library service offers.

In the following round of Wolfson/DCMS reader development funding, awarded July 2001, Calderdale Libraries was awarded £82,500 to develop the project). Bibliotherapy 2 built on and extend both the target audience and geographic region of the successful activities already established. Contact 01422 392628.


Travellers outreach programme Sutton Libraries in partnership with Merton, Sutton and Merton Traveller Education Service, used the £7,482 of their DCMS/Wolfson 2000 grant to create a resource collection and an outreach programme for traveller communities living in the two boroughs. Contact 020 8770 4704

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