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  • Alan Ward

This Library is Yours: becoming Gillingham Library (Dorset) writer in residence

This year has started on a very positive note: I've been invited to deliver a new community engagement and wellbeing project at Gillingham Library in Dorset. This Library is Yours will make free creative writing workshops available to the public and groups within the community. I'll also be collecting library visitors' memories and stories about the library (and libraries in general) and developing an installation in the library. All this as well as writing some new pieces of work based on my time in the library and the local area.

This project is pretty exciting for me as it builds on a similar residency I held at Hastings Library around this time last year. Six months on from finishing up there I'm really pleased to be welcomed to Gillingham to work closely with the staff and community to deliver a meaningful project that will give people opportunities to be creative and to try something they haven't before. So, what have we got planned? Well, the answer to that is: loads!

Creative writing workshops

There will be a number of one-off creative writing workshops taking place at the library. Some of these will be bookable by the public and others will be delivered to partner groups. We'll be looking for the hidden stories waiting to be discovered at Gillingham Library, searching for things in the real world that can take us to extraordinary places in our writing. Attending one of these writing workshops could give you the opportunity to be creative, get to know other aspiring writers and develop your writing skills.

One-to-one feedback sessions

These were one of the most rewarding elements of my Hastings Library residency and I'm pleased to be able to offer them again. A one-to-one session presents a chance for local writers to discuss their writing and receive some feedback. There will only be a handful of these sessions available, bookable on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gillingham Library base

I will soon have a small base at Gillingham Library. This desk is where visitors to the library will be invited to tell their tale in relation to the library: things that might surprise us, or a secret. Contributions will be displayed in the library – they may even give someone else an idea, or inspire a story. I'll also be using this space to work on my own writing (and blog posts) when I'm in the library.

Book trail installation

I don't want to give away too much about this just yet, but staff at the library are keeping behind a selection of old hardback books for me to use for a bit of an art project. This subtle installation will emerge later in the project and will be used to showcase some of the writing.

If you live nearby, I hope to see you in the library in Gillingham soon. If you have any questions about the plans, feel free to send me a message or ask the library staff in person next time you're in. If you're not currently a member of the library you're still very welcome (and actively encouraged) to take part.

The project is delivered by Libraries as Cultural Hubs, with partners The Arts Development Company and funded by Arts Council England. Keep up-to-date by following Dorset Libraries on Twitter.

Thanks for reading this post. I'd love to be able to share more of my stories and blog posts with you, please subscribe if you'd like hear more.

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