Friday, 25 October 2013

Posts from BOOKMARK - Loving Blair's New-Look Library

Loving Blair’s New-Look Library

Oct 17 2013
Nipping down to the Blairgowrie Library during my double free period on a Friday morning felt almost like a criminal act. I say almost because trotting off to a library hardly seems like an exceptionally rebellious thing to do. Rebellious would be taking a bus to Dundee and spending the day shopping instead of even bothering to show up at school. I would like to take this opportunity to clear my name here – I have never done the latter.

 Though visiting the library mightn’t have been a hugely dare-devil act, it could have proved somewhat dangerous. Why? Well, considering I was recovering from some sort of mystery illness and had nearly fainted the previous day whilst taking a walk (my first in two days) which barely saw me a mile away from my front door, I was a liability to myself.

 Luckily I arrived at the library without mishap and was ready to quiz Simon McGowan on all things BOOKMARK. What struck me when I walked through the door was how good the library looked. I had been in once before after the recent renovation but was too focussed on researching the Blairgowrie Advertiser archives to notice much else than what was right in front of me. I suppose I really should visit the library more often but I’m slightly afraid of the reaction I’ll receive when I tell them I’ve lost my library card for what must be about the fifth time.

 After a quick glance here and there, taking in the library’s new spacious and user-friendly appearance I made my way over to Simon and excused my borderline man-like voice (a remnant from the mystery illness) and then began my questions.

 I started by asking whether books by the authors featuring in the BOOKMARK Festival had become more popular since advertising of the events began.

“We’ve put up displays of the books, so we’ve been promoting them actively and people have been taking a big interest. We don’t know actual numbers but people have definitely been taking an interest in the stands.”

This was, if anything, a good start. And the mentioned stands certainly are hard to miss as they have been strategically placed to greet customers as they walk into the library. They caught my eye anyway, that’s for sure. Not content with just a few author-related stands, the library staff have also been busy distributing the festival programme, putting up posters and chatting about BOOKMARK to customers.

 I was curious to find out what age range of people visited the library looking for BOOKMARK-related things (like books by featured authors or information on events). My previous chat with Louise Gow told me that the majority of interest probably came from older people.

“It does tend to be the older readers,” Simon said. “There are one or two things for children; we’ve had people talking about the Gruffalo walk – it’s fully booked apparently. We don’t actually sell tickets here, if we had been selling them we would have probably got more engagement. But we have had children, or rather children’s parents, express an interest though.”

 “Would you be interested in selling tickets next year?” I popped the obvious question.

“I think we would prefer to do it the way it’s being done this year. You can’t have tickets being sold here, there and everywhere. It’s harder to keep track of that way. It’s better that it’s just the bookshop and online.”

I then asked whether more people had come into the library since BOOKMARK’s advertisement.

“I can’t say that I’ve noticed that they have but it might increase interest in the long run.”
Like Louise Gow, however, Simon is hopeful that BOOKMARK will have a lasting effect on the library.

“We’re hoping to have a presence at the festival to distribute some of our leaflets with opening times and contact details and maybe even sign up a few new customers.”

I asked one final question – whether Simon thought it would be a good idea if the library played host to a few events for next year’s BOOKMARK festival.

 Simon agreed. “We have one here, a children’s event on the Saturday morning,” he said, “but we would be willing to host more events.”

And with that I excused myself and hurried off (along with my hacking cough) back to school, nervously checking my watch as I went. I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to hear I made it to class on time without fainting or causing myself serious harm.