Richmond Literature Festival welcomes library lovers

Richmond Library has been organising and hosting events this month for the Richmond Literature Festival.

The Library ranks number one in the UK for the number of book loans per 1000 people, and has one of the oldest lending libraries in London, making it the ideal place for book lovers.

Libraries week took place from 4-10 October and promoted the importance libraries hold among people of all ages, providing many with endless information and hours of entertainment.

This Thursday, Richmond Libraries is hosting an event with author Louise Hare about her book This Lovely City – a clever murder mystery and exploration of Windrush in the capital.

Hare was inspired to write her book after a tour of the deep-level shelter at Clapham police station a few years ago, where Windrush arrivals were kept if they didn’t have anywhere to go upon arrival.

She said: “I started with thinking what that must have felt like, to arrive from a completely new country and then get shipped into these tunnels.”

Hare noted that the importance of libraries is incredibly understated.

She said: “At certain times in my life when I’ve not had money, being able to go to the library and get books out for free has been amazing.”

Hare also feels that libraries are important in generating conversations about Black history.

She added: “Libraries do play a big part in being able to promote and share knowledge as a part of Black History Month, so I think it is a really key resource.

“If we lost libraries, I think it would be a tragedy.”

Hare is releasing a new book at the end of April in 2022 named Miss Aldridge’s Regrets.

Set in 1936, the book takes place on the Queen Mary, the boat from Southampton to New York, and focuses on race and class issues of the period.

For those interested, Richmond Literature Festival is taking place on 5-21 November, centered around the theme of ‘breaking ground’ where ‘through literature and ideas, we imagine new possibilities of the future’.

The festival focuses on the past 18 months and investigates issues such as the climate crisis, what the new ‘normal’ is, and social inequality.

The first event will be hosted in Hampton library with Kate Teltscher, discussing her book Palace of Palms.

Palace of Palms is a Victorian tale that gives readers an insight into the iconic Kew Gardens Palm House, as well as our relationship with nature and the environment.

Teltscher drew inspiration for her book from the influence Kew Gardens had on her life from a young age.

She said: “I’ve lived in South West London on and off most of my life, and I’ve known Kew since I was a child.

“The thing about the Palm House at Kew is that it’s an extraordinary building and it just kind of hits you as you go in.”

Built in the 19th century, Kew Gardens demonstrated the imperial power of the British Empire, but is now focused on biodiversity and conservation.

Teltscher also feels the Richmond Literature Festival is an important event in promoting positivity after a difficult 18 months.

She noted: “I think it’s great, it’s not just one theme – it’s divided into different sections.

“Climate and environment are there centrally, but also new narratives, expanding perspectives, and pioneering ideas.”

Teltscher shares the same sentiments as Hare and believes libraries are one of the most important aspects of British society.

She said:  “From a sustainability point of view, it’s one book for many people, not just for one.

“That sense of sharing and trust, and you borrow it, you look after it and you bring it back. It’s fantastic.”

Public funding for libraries has been decreasing yearly, with funding falling by £20 million in 2020 during the pandemic.

10 years ago, funding was over £1 billion. 

Over 800 public libraries have been closed in Britain since 2010.

Penguin books offer several pieces of advice to help public libraries, including donating books, writing to MPs to remind them of the importance of libraries, and using libraries once it is safe to do so.

Featured image credit: Richmond Council

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