Words By Kim Hutson
Browsing an old notepad recently I discovered a list I had made as a depressed data-inputting literature graduate. It was a list of things I would like to do:
– Work in a library, museum or university
– Go travelling
– MA in Creative Writing (Ha!)
I applied for hundreds, if not thousands of jobs and just when I thought my soul might break, I landed a job with Salford Library Service working with toddlers as a Bookstart officer. Even though the job didn’t last very long, it was just what I needed: the exact opposite of the awful (but necessary) admin jobs I’d been doing. Through the world of children’s books I came to hear about the Manchester Children’s Book Festival in its first year. It sounded amazing – I signed up to volunteer immediately.
I enjoyed every minute of the festival. I can’t even really remember what my official roles were: a bit of welcoming, a bit of ushering, a bit of tidying but mainly I remember being in awe at hearing Carol Anne Duffy reading The Princess’ Blankets, being transfixed by Cathy Cassidy as she read from her books and taking to Sherry Ashworth in the green room about the MA in Writing for Children. I told her how much I had dreamed about it but how it was really just a pipe dream as I’d never be able to afford it. A conversation followed about spreading the cost of the fees which would no doubt be very dull to you but made a metaphorical light bulb ping on above my head. I could do it, I really could.
Three years on and I don’t know what I’d do without the support and motivation provided by my lovely group. We are all currently very excited to have stories being published (and beautifully illustrated) for the forthcoming Timelines anthology which will be launched at the John Rylands Library on Saturday 19th October at the Manchester Literature Festival.
After my Bookstart job, I started working at Ordsall Hall, a historic house in Salford whose oldest parts date back to the 1360s. One of the main priorities of the Hall is to engage with the local community as well as visitors from further afield so as well as being open to the public as a museum 5 days a week we offer school learning sessions, children’s activities in the holidays and workshops of all kinds.
Ordsall Hall recently became a member of the Manchester Creative Learning Network and a partner for the MCBF. As a result of this we were recently able to link up with Archives+ to offer a ‘Creepy House’ day of events, its name taken from the theme of Manchester and Salford Libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge. The Archives+ team offered a spooky craft activity and the Ordsall Hall team donned their Tudor costumes and did some creepy storytelling. The day was a huge success and we can’t wait to work in partnership again for MCBF 2014.