Last week I gave a couple of talks about the life and misadventures of Dr Crippen, and was very pleased with the audience feedback. First up was an evening at Stretford Library, as part of the Wordfest celebrations. I was informed by someone that I was in competition with a concert by Take That, but the turnout was pretty good, and the question session long and fascinating.
On Friday, I gave the talk at Kendal Library. This is the one and only real life library that I’ve ever featured in a novel – in The Coffin Trail. So it was a real pleasure to be invited by Cumbria Libraries to take part in their Midsummer Murder festival.
The staff were, as at Stretford, very friendly and welcoming. Kendal is one of the Carnegie Libraries, and is celebrating its centenary. There is a new extension to the original building and I was impressed by the mural that decorates it, segments of which are shown in the photos.
Both occasions confirmed me in my belief that libraries form an extremely important part of most communities. It seems inevitable that the burden of debt the government has built up will lead to spending cuts, whoever wins the next election. But I really do hope that this does not mean that libraries suffer. If we are to get through the social problems that financial crises cause, we need strong community cohesion, and libraries have a vital role to play in fostering that cohesion.