South West Reading Passport 2016: Book to the Future

Petroc and Barnstaple Libraries Author Event with Jem Lester: Roundup

February was an exciting month for Reading Passport with some of our Book to the Future events happening in libraries in the South West. Two of these events happened at Petroc library and Barnstaple library. Jem Lester, debut novelist of the thought provokoing Shtum visited students and members of the public in the first ever author visit for the library. We’re so pleased to hear that this event has inspired more like it. #LoveLibraries #LoveReading. 

Sarah Woodcock, Library Services Coordinator at Petroc shares her experience of the event:

“As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to get a grant from Literature Works through SWRLS and the support of Orion Books to organise a visit from author Jem Lester. On Thursday he came by train from London and despite storm Doris arrived in good time for a picnic lunch with Rosie Godfrey who was going be interviewing him in front of the audience and Jude Jeal from Barnstaple library, our partner in the bid.


The event was really well attended by students from Early Childhood, Health and Social Care and English courses as well as members of the public, some of whom had driven over from Exeter especially. Annie Hambleton from the North Devon Forum for Autism was also there with leaflets explaining about the work done locally by the Forum supporting parents of children on the Autistic spectrum . The session was great – Jem was interesting, informative and very honest, answering some excellent questions posed by both Rosie and by members of the audience. After the session Jem signed books for the audience  – I was really pleased that so many were keen to read the book having heard him talking about it. Several students have been inspired to base their research project around Autism and Annie has offered resources based on her own experience bringing up an autistic child as well as potential access to the Forum’s library which is a pleasing result.

The college event over, we all had a much needed break before meeting up again at Barnstaple library for the evening event. This was a smaller and more intimate session focussing on how Jem came to write the novel, about the freedoms of writing fiction versus autobiography and his plans for future work. Again the audience were really engaged and were pleased to get the book signed afterwards.

We were delighted that the day was such a success and inspirational for the students and members of the public who attended. Thank you to everybody involved – particularly Jem for finding his way to Barnstaple on public transport but also to Virginia Woolstencroft from Orion Books, Rosie Godfrey, Barnstaple Library, Waterstones, Literature Works, SWRLS, the North Devon Forum and last but not least the Petroc library staff who managed tickets, sold  the books, set up the stage and took the photos.

The whole thing has been a very enjoyable and valuable experience and we are hoping that ‘Our first ever author event’ will be the first of many!!


This post originally appeared on the Learning Technologies and Library Services Petroc blog as ‘Our First Ever Author Visit- how did it go?’ – reproduced by kind permission of Sarah Woodcock. 

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