The Library Angel?

I’m not a big reader, and I can’t pretend to know much about literature, or the intricacies and artistry of the English language. I am a Cornishman, and schooled in a Grange Hill fashion during the 1980s my CSE in English Language was perhaps achieved against the odds. My Degree in Creative Arts was also achieved without mastery of the English language.

Despite the above, I and many others can appreciate a good story and a good book.

I remember as a boy encountering the phenomenon of ‘the library angel’. The idea that, seemingly without direction, one might encounter the right book at the right time. You might wonder the shelves of the local library not knowing what might pique your interest. Without ambition or reason, a book would be seen, picked up, often at a moment of resignation. There’s probably a dozen or so times this has happened to me, where the said book turns out to be an illumination, a stimulation, a joy and an energising tonic!   Of course, there’s no real mystery in ‘the library angel’, one seeks, one decides to venture down a certain aisle, one chooses to look at a certain shelf, and one picks up the stimulating title. Or does one?

Although I am not a big reader, I have enjoyed numerous good reads at different stages of my life to-date. From frippery like the Jonasson’s ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared’, through Stewart’s optimistic ‘Driving Over Lemons’, to my hallucinatory reading of Faulks’ ‘Birdsong’.

Before this year’s holiday, I had no idea what book I might take away. A ten minutes meander in the library was fruitless but at last minute I saw the ‘Classics’ display stand, and after a spin, I picked up Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’. Heaven knows why.

WOW! What a journey. It’s a captivating read. My mind lived the journey, smells, colours, grief, joy… Steinbeck really demonstrates the story’s world descriptively painting sensational scenes, events, emotions, and ideas. I can’t give you an analysis except to say what a powerful read. “Man’s inhumanity to man”, “a story of human unity and love as well as the need for cooperative rather than individualistic ideals during hard times.” To quote SparkNotes “Mournful, awed, enraged, sympathetic”. Thanks Leicestershire Libraries!

And so, as one thing leads to another, on returning from my holiday, we find in the library Steinbeck’s ‘East of Eden’. Another great read! Quite a different experience to GOW. But again, a sensational read. To quote Sparknotes; “The perpetual contest between good and evil”, “Philosophical; foreboding; nostalgic; hopeful”.

Those two experiences left me quite saturated; with images, feelings, thoughts, fears, and hopes … 

And so I turned to the library and books again for some lighter relief.  No ‘library angel’ this time, but I did meet a neighbor in the library and she offered a casual suggestion. The blurb quotes “Non-stop action – this book delivers”.  At first sight, I thought hum ‘pop literature’, not sure if I fancied spending time on the literary equivalent of Gillette’s ‘a best a man can get’.  But, like much good pop culture, it was a feast for the senses. Great fun. So much so that after ‘The Sacred Sword’ I am now reading ‘The Armada Legacy’.  James Bond meets Jason Bourne, with a historical twist.

Books, stories, what might we be without them? Libraries, free public libraries, what might we be without them?

Reading is good for you.

Whether we are looking for education or entertainment, or a bit of both, the public library offers possibilities for discovery and personal growth. The loss of good public libraries would indeed be steps away from discovery and against the idea of free personal growth.
Reading helps; reduce stress, keep the brain in shape, educate, entertain, stimulate, boost empathy.
Reading fiction can simulate real-world problems and therefore has real consequences for the reader. Reading helps to engage mental skills at the same time as stimulating enjoyment, self-confidence, motivation and a sense of achievement.


What have you been reading? Dare you tell?


Visit Your Library – Reduce your tsundoku…





For the last 15+ years, I have worked for Bookmark People. They service Public Libraries throughout the UK creating bespoke promotional bookmarks that reinforce libraries’ outreach and promotional campaigns.

#LoveLibraries is the watchword… see more here: Bookmark People

We are always highlingting the value of libraries to the community as well as indivuiduals. I recently came across a neat piece by the University of Virginia LibraryWhat Happens After Opening A Book?“.
After the spate of “what happens after drinking a can of Coke”, “what happens after eating a Big Mac” type IGs,  University of Virginia Library produced a clever infographic “detailing what happens to a person when you consume a book?”

And so …

What happens in the hour* after
you visit your library? *and onwards…”

For a printable PDF of the above image click link below – feel free to share (with credit)

 What happens PDF feel free to share (with credit).

What happens one hour after you visit a library? (and onwards … )

First 10 minutes…

Sights, sounds and yes smells; an abundance of knowledge, a wealth of information, stories, and dreams and plans, captured memories and visions. Colours, creaks, warmth, and space. A maze of questions, where, what, who might you find?

You are looking for something, but you are drawn by the choice. You find more than you expected. You don’t find what you are looking for, but what is this you have found?

You may feel anxiety, as the choice is yours and there are many roads less travelled. The potential for growth is palpable but choice may not seem easy.

After 30 minutes…

You’ve discovered or perhaps passed by catalogued doors to new worlds, you’ve discovered or passed by more information than you might be able to absorb in one sitting. You brain has warmed and your mind is recoloured by encounter and exploration. You grasp items that promise answers and introductions to new hopes and plans. You can’t find what you wanted but have passed or picked up unknown treasures that may hold keys to answers and indeed more questions.

After 60 minutes…

You have or perhaps are consumed, you can’t hope for anymore. Time to flee and consider what you’ve found. The treasures you’ve borrowed are warm and promising. It may be one book. It may be a pile of books, DVDs, music, journals … You have a few weeks to dive in, deliberate and discover. You hope to be informed, entertained, and in the process education may happen.
You take your borrowed wealth away.

After days and weeks…

You’ve found new worlds. You’ve found new ideas. You’ve found more questions.

You may have returned to the library. You may have shared ideas with friends. Inspiration, wonderment, enthusiasm, excitement. Puzzlement, memories, hopes, expectations. All created from borrowed wisdom and creativity from generations of ideas and intelligence.

This place, your library, and the people you’ve met there are alive. The people who served you and passed you as you browsed – a living community of lifelong learners. The characters and ideas you encountered in your discoveries are also alive, born through your visits to this trove of learning.

After years…

The sights, sounds and yes smells linger. Knowledge, stories, memories and projections linger.
Your journeys, the people you met on the way, the people you shared your discoveries with all linger. And some of these discoveries have shaped your life. Shaped your outlook, coloured your enjoyment, and informed decisions  that have brought you to where you are; which is possibly not far from another new book, an old song, or another unopened treasure.
© @JulesPRichards tweets on behalf of @BookmarkPeople – #LoveLibraries


There’s books in them there hills!

CotswoldsJPRWhile walking with the folks in the Cotswolds this weekend I was reminded of people’s need to read, and the fact that communities use a ‘third place‘ whether as a water-cooler moment or a refuge away from home…  “escape with a good book!”

Laverton Book Exchange

As have many others, the village of Laverton, Gloucestershire, now seems to have its own “Book Exchange” I understand they have lost the once cherished GCC mobile library provision and the idea of using their old K6 phone box as a ‘book exchange’ has been realised. (kiosk number six – designed to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V)

“Despite the growth in digital technologies, there is still a clear need and demand within communities for modern, safe, non-judgmental, flexible spaces, where citizens of all ages can mine the knowledge of the world for free, supported by the help and knowledge of the library workforce,”

So said a report from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport last year.

Just another observationPeople use libraries!

“A good book dies every time we switch on bad TV…”

The Bookmark People have been supporting libraries for more than 15 years with bespoke Promotional Library Bookmarks that spread the news in their unique inimitable way.

With digital advertising becoming the norm, returning to tactile touchy-feely print can set u apart!


“Time, ferry me down the river…”


Time, ferry me down the river,
Friends carry me safely over
Life, tend me on my journey
Love call me home.
Peggy Seeger – Love Call Me Home

The act of singing releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” chemicals. Singing in front of and essentially with others can be even more rewarding.

Singing is arguably a primal action, to express oneself in song – pre-language.  It could be said that, habitual structured language might even inhibit essential expression, feeling, thought and being.

Singing requires deeper breathing. Singing can have some of the same effects as exercise. It’s an aerobic activity: more oxygen into the blood, better circulation, helps with a “good” mood.

Many studies have found that after people take part in a singing programs, over time there are significant decreases in both anxiety and depression levels and that habitual singers find that singing plays a central role in their psychological health. Singing requires attention, it’s hard to worry about work or money or family problems when you’re actively engaged in singing.

The pre-language primal song of course was a group social activity – the war chant, the rain dance, singing down the mine, cries from the plantation, the pub singalong, traditional church singing, celebrations “happy birthday to you” – realisation that you are one of a group, identification, belonging, sharing…

Close&GlobalHarmonyA6In modern (or dare I say post-modern) times, yes there are many clubs, groups, and subcultures that help people to interact (the interaction between things is what makes them fecund), but the act of “really singing” goes much further towards tackling the loneliness that often comes along with our (in?)human current culture.

This week Close Harmony enjoyed an evening in Melton Library.

Close Harmony are a small singing group from Melton Mowbray, made up of members of the large a capella community choir Global Harmony.

Recordings below are recorded with a mobile-phone in the corner of the room: not ideal but you get an impression…

An Thou Were My Ain Thing:

Calon Lan:


Love Call Me Home:

Cancion Mixteca:


Do it every day – read!

Four of my images were recently selected to feature on promotional Library Bookmarks that will be distributed by North Lanarkshire Public Libraries.


A suite of four bookmarks to collect, that promote local Lanarkshire authors.

The four images were selected from a shortlist of 8 of my photos are here: