Here Cultural Development Manager Frances MacArthur from East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust talks about their involvement in World Book Night, a national celebration of reading and books which takes place on 23 April every year.
A few weeks ago World Book Night celebrated its seventh successful year after originally being set up as an evening for adults to come together to share reading and celebrate the difference it makes to our lives.
Public libraries in the 21st century are about much more than books - Code Clubs, 3D printers and Bookbug challenges are just some examples of the resources we now have at our disposal and represent a valued part of what is on offer.
Nevertheless, more traditional tools, such as books, still play a vital role in our lives: encouraging a positive culture of readers remains a central part of our work as librarians. This is why our calendars are marked with dates such as World Book Night, World Book Day and Book Week Scotland.
These events enable us to promote a positive approach to reading and draw attention on how much we all have to gain from books: from the literacy skills which open doors, to the relaxation and wellbeing a good read brings to individuals, and the shared pleasures of stories being discussed and explored.
In recent years, World Book Night has targeted groups that traditionally are not seen as avid readers. Part of the campaign is a national giveaway of thousands of carefully selected books. They are gifted by individual volunteers and by libraries, third sector organisations, prisons and educational establishments. The mission is to donate books that encourage the recipients not just to read and enjoy that very book, but also to bring the habit of reading into their lives. As library book donors, we have distributed World Book Night books to community groups, adult learners and a support group for those with mental health issues.
East Dunbartonshire Libraries have participated in World Book Night every year since its inception. It’s an evening where we have showcased local authors, highlighted our Reader in Residence programme and brought the lives of historical figures to the audience but, above all, it’s a relaxed evening where books and reading take centre stage.
Our events have always offered the audience the opportunity to get directly involved in our activities and get closer to reading through quizzes, Q&As and debates. This year was no exception with a Murder Mystery Evening set up by popular crime writer Anne Cleeves, where the audience played the part of detective.
Through this light-hearted event, and many others, we meet our strategic aim to promote reading, literacy and learning, as set out in Ambition & Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020.