The Write to Conscience – free event

ariseAs the world prepares for war, one community prepares its own battle – for peace. It costs them everything – except their conscience.

Wednesday 29 October 2014 at Wakefield Library, Wakefield One, 6pm to 7.30pm
Tickets: Free 

As a lead in event to the performances of England, Arise! at the Mechanics Theatre, Wakefield, Mick Martin, writer of the play, along with actors from the production, will host an informal talk and practical session exploring the true story of the Socialist Conscience Objectors of West Yorkshire and the process of shaping historical events into a new stage play.

The play follows the stories of Arthur Gardiner and Percy Ellis, two friends involved in the socialist movement at the turn of the century who, in the face of WW1, were prepared to risk everything for their conscience.

Written by Bradford-based MICK MARTIN (‘George Orwell meets Nick Hornby, but with a plus…’ The Observer), ENGLAND, ARISE! is the story of a strong community of young people, in their early twenties and younger, and is therefore filled with the youthful vigour, humour and excitement of the prospect of a new world order. Their hunger for knowledge, ideas and political action is intertwined with the exciting cultural movement of the time.

Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014

logo-mainThe fifteen titles on the longlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014, celebrating the best in non-fiction writing, are announced today, Tuesday 2 September.

The fifteen titles on this year’s longlist are:

• John Campbell, Roy Jenkins, Jonathan Cape

• John Carey, The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life, Faber & Faber

• Jessie Childs, God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England, Bodley Head

• Marion Coutts, The Iceberg: A Memoir, Atlantic

• Nick Davies, Hack Attack, Random House

• Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, Profile Books

• Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity, Oneworld

• Alison Light, Common People, Fig Tree

• Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk, Jonathan Cape

• Henry Marsh, Do No Harm, Weidenfeld & Nicolson

• Jonathan Meades, An Encyclopaedia of Myself, 4th Estate

• Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France, Chatto & Windus

• Adam Nicolson, The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters, William Collins

• Jenny Uglow, In These Times, Faber & Faber

• Ben Watt, Romany and Tom: A Memoir, Bloomsbury


The winner of the 2014 prize will be announced on Tuesday 4 November, following the shortlist announcement on 9 October. The winner of last year’s prize was The Pike, by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (4th Estate), which has since gone on to win the 2013 Costa Book Award (Biography).

Our new library.

We have just opened a new library. It’s not a building though, it’s a digital branch. OneClickdigital now includes eBooks as well as eAudiobooks. There are three thousand titles to choose from -crime, romance, history, biographies, children’s books – there is something for everybody and new titles will be added in the future. All you need is to visit the site and enter your library card number, create an account, download the app suitable for your device and choose your books. It’s very easy to use and if you do have any problems there is an excellent helpdesk service.eBooks are issued for three weeks just like conventional books, you can renew them and there are no late return fines to pay. You may be tempted by a talking book as well; the choice is excellent. We also have a magazine service too, Zinio , with a wide selection of popular consumer magazines and lots of useful reference titles. Your library card is the key to a whole range of free services you can use from home so why not visit our digial library today.

Wakefield Lit Fest

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Just five weeks to go to the third annual Wakefield Lit Fest and it’s bigger and better than ever. Poet and writer Jackie Kay opens the festival and Simon Armitage, Ian Macmillan and Roger McGough are also appearing. Will Self is sure to be an interesting evening and Joanne Harris will be talking about her fantasy novel The Gospel of Loki. Ben Aaronovich’s PC Grant series has a lot of fans and Stuart Maconie will draw both music and book lovers.
The library has a full week of events. On Monday 22, author Stephen May will be talking about his novel ‘Wake Up Happy Every Day’. On Tuesday storyteller Christine McMahon will be leading an afternoon workshop for anyone interested in developing the skill of oral storytelling and in the evening telling stories inspired by the textile heritage of Yorkshire and Lancashire in ‘On Tenterhooks – folktales with occasional sheep. On Wednesday evening John Sunderland will be talking about how he designed the Jorvik Centre in York and his book ‘On the Way to Jorvik’. On Friday Leah Thorn will be exploring the power of expressive writing for women in prison and presenting works written by women at New Hall. For writers, York author N.E. David will be exploring how to overcome writers block in ‘A defence against the Dark Arts’ and Christina James will be giving advice on how to get published as well as reading from her new book ‘Sausage Hall’.
Saturday 27th September Lit Fest takes over Ossett for a ‘Festival in a Day’ and storyteller Susanna Meese from Telling Tales will be leading a storywalk from Ossett Library to the festival HQ at Trinity Church.
The following Saturday, 27th, is our Readers Group Day- everyone is welcome, even if you are not a member of a readers group. I am very excited that our guest speaker will be Jo Baker, author of ‘Longbourn’.
All library events are free but booking is requested, via the Lit Fest Box Office at the Theatre Royal Wakefield.

The Vikings are coming!


We will shortly have something a little different in Wakefield Library. The Stanley Ferry logboat is about a thousand years old and the earliest known logboat with evidence of fitted ribs. (pictured above being assembled) It was discoverd near the River Calder in 1838 during an excavation for the aqueduct and we are thrilled to welcome it back to Wakefield.
To go with it, there is a beautiful map of England at the period when the logboat was in use by local artist John Welding. Do drop in next week to see this fascinating link to Wakefield’s past.


If you would like a Viking novel to enjoy after seeing the boat you could try one of the Warrior Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell, The Whale Road by Robert Low, or Odinn’s Child by Tim Severin. Vikings are popular in Mills and Boon romances (illustrated by lots of muscular torsoes) but I’d go for Anya Seton’s Avalon (sadly out of print) or Joanne Harris’s new fantasy novel The Gospel of Loki. Joanne will be at Wakefield Lit fest this year to talk about this novel. Finally, written for younger readers but enjoyable at any age, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword Song or Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Bracelet of Bone.

Enter the Mythical Maze

The summer holidays will be with us soon and we are all ready for our biggest reading promotion of the year, the Summer Reading Challenge. Evey year, three quarters of a million children join the Summer Reading Challenge in their local libraries and try to read six books before they go back to school. This year the theme is the Mythical Maze and when they join they will get a wonderful Maze poster designed by this year’s artist Sarah McIntyre. As they read books they will get stickers of creatures like mermaids and unicorns to add to the maze. There are little rewards too and a gold medal and certificate when they complete the challenge. Sometimes the certificates are awards in assemblies when they go back to school so that their teachers know who has taken part. The challenge really helps children keep up their reading skills over the summer break when there is often a dip in reading levels but there is no need to tell them it’s good for them- they will just think it’s fun and will want to hurry back to the library to collect their next stickers. It’s suitable for any child of 4 and over, they can choose any books they like to read, or to share with an adult if they are just learning to read, there’s a website they can explore with games and reading ideas and best of all it’s totally free! Get the family lost in the Mythical Maze this summer!

On the Bummel


In honour of the Tour de France, I shall take a bummel through some literary cycling. What is a bummel? It’s a leisurely stroll or trip. Jerome K Jerome takes one through Germany with his friends George and Harris in ‘Three Men on the Bummel’, a sequel to a comic favourite of mine, ‘Three Men in a Boat.’ It was nearly as celebrated as the original when it was published in 1900 but is little read now and I have to confess it is still on my ‘to read one day’ list.
Many bikes in literature come in stories written around the turn of the century when cycling was a new craze. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote two Sherlock Holmes stories involving bikes. In ‘The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist’ Sherlock deduces she rides by the wear on her shoes and solves the mystery of why a bearded cyclist is following her every day. . In ‘The Adventure of the Priory School’, a kidnapping tale, Sherlock has to look carefully at the marks left by different tyres to solve the mystery.

H.G Well’s ‘The Wheels of Chance’ came out in 1896. It’s a comic “bicycling idyll” featuring a draper’s assistant called Hoopdriver who undertakes a cycling tour of the south coast and saves a young lady cyclist from a would-be seducer.

A fleet of bicycles stars in one of my favourite scenes from ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ Mark Twain (1889). The Yankee has travelled in time and is introducing King Arthur’s Court to the benefits of modern technology. He and the King are travelling in disguise and in danger of being executed when ‘’ by George! here they came, a-tilting!—five hundred mailed and belted knights on bicycles! The grandest sight that ever was seen. Lord, how the plumes streamed, how the sun flamed and flashed from the endless procession of webby wheels!’’

Bikes feature in two books from the Queens of Crime: ‘Five Red Herrings’ by Dorothy Sayers where the solution to the murder involves timing a top speed cross country bike ride and Marjorie Allingham’s ‘Dancers in Mourning’ in which an actor who is the president of a cycling club is murdered with an exploding bicycle.

Cycling, in particular the introduction of the ‘safety bicycle’ in the 1880s, made a huge difference to women. John Galsworthy in ‘The Forsyte Saga’ writes ‘Under its influence, wholly or in part, have wilted chaperons, long and narrow skirts, tight corsets, hair that would have come down, black stockings, thick ankles, large hats, prudery and fear of the dark; under its influence, wholly or in part, have bloomed week-ends, strong nerves, strong legs, strong language, knickers, knowledge of make and shape, knowledge of woods and pastures, equality of sex, good digestion and professional occupation–in four words, the emancipation of woman.”

I met this again reading ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’ recently (James Hilton, 1934) when the Victorian school-master meets his future wife: ‘He was a quiet, conventional person, and the world, viewed from the haven of Brookfield, seemed to him full of distasteful innovations; there was a fellow named Bernard Shaw who had the strangest and most reprehensible opinions; there was Ibsen, too, with his disturbing plays; and there was this new craze for bicycling which was being taken up by women equally with men. Chips did not hold with all this modern newness and freedom.’ He falls in love and marries this alarming ‘New Woman’ though.
More recently, you could try ‘The White Woman on the Green Bicycle’, by Monique Roffey which tells the story of Sabine Harwood, who in the 1950s travels from Britain to make a new life in Trinidad with her husband George. Always an outsider, she cycles everywhere and becomes famous with the locals as “the white woman who rides everywhere on her green bicycle” or ‘Gold’ by Chris Cleave. This is set at an Olympic Velodrome where Kate and Zoe, who have trained together for years are in competition in their last race. Each wants desperately to win gold, and each has more than a medal to lose.
There are lots of children’s books with bikes in because riding your first bike is such a childhood milestone. My favourite is from the wonderful Quentin Blake. In ‘Mrs Armitage on Wheels’ she decides that ‘what this bike needs’ is a horn, a bathroom, a picnic, a seat for her dog, an umbrella, a sail…children will love waiting for the inevitable crash!

Wherever you are heading this weekend, enjoy your bummel!

Adult Learners Festival 2014

PrintGive learning a go during the Festival of Learning throughout May and June, in the run up to Adult Learners’ Week, with Wakefield Libraries

Wakefield Council will be welcoming people back into learning during the Festival of Learning throughout May and June, culminating in Adult Learners’ Week with activities taking place from June 14th-June 20th 2014.

This annual festival provides opportunities for people to ‘learn for life’ with a wide range of learning opportunities available to celebrate, inspire and engage adult learners.

To find out more about adult learners week event, download our events flyer here.

Bookstart Week


It’s Bookstart Week and and our library storytimes are celebrating. The theme this year is Heroes and there is a free copy of Super Duck by Jez Alborough for all the children who visit a storytime this week. There will be super-hero crafts too and there is lots more to explore online at the Bookstart website
Bookstart is challenging parents to be Reading Heroes by sharing a book with their children every night during Bookstart Week. Early reading makes a real difference to children: helping them to develop language skills and logic, preparing them for school, helping them bond with parents. The benefits are real and lasting – and it’s fun too. There’s an article here on how it works for more detailed information. Can you be a Reading Hero this week and help more children to enjoy sharing a story?

Make A Noise In Libraries Fortnight


Make A Noise In Libraries fortnight is an annual campaign to highlight the services available in libraries for blind and partially sighted people, to try to improve their access to books and information.

•We have a large range of books in large print and audio. All our libraries stock books in these formats and our free request service brings your choice to your library.
•We have a wide range of free Online services to access from home, including free talking books, language courses and magazines to download.
•Readers Groups meet throughout the District to chat about reading and audio books. Book titles are provided. Contact us if you would like to find out about the support we offer VIP groups.
•If you find it difficult to visit your local library, we can bring the library service to your home through our Home Library service. Our Mobile Library has regular stops throughout the District too.
•Our Liberate Plus card is for library users who are registered blind or with a severe disablement. It allows you to borrow all CDs and most DVDs for free!
•All our computers have Microsoft accessibility options such as screen magnifier as standard and Dolphin SuperNova software with large letter keyboard and trackball mouse is available at Wakefield Library.
• There is a high visibility screen option on all our self-service kiosks

On Thursday 12 June we are celebrating MANIL with a special event for anyone with a visual impairement who would like to find out how to begin researching their family history. How to Begin your Family History will take place at Wakefield Library and Museum on Thursday 12 June, 12.30 – 1pm


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