Read through the decades and win prizes this winter with the South West Reading Passport.

Pick up your South West Reading Passport 2016:Book to the Future from your local library.

Your Reading Passport journeys through the decades to explore defining authors of the past 100 years. It features books written and set in bygone years, celebrates current literary heroes and looks forward to future talent.                                            reading-passport-2016-poster-version-2-page-0

Your Reading Passport is easy to use. Visit your local library and for every book you complete from each decade ask library staff to stamp your Passport.

Everyone presenting a full Passport will be given the opportunity to win a suitcase full of books in a prize draw taking part across the South West.

There’s also a prize draw just for those completing their journey through Swindon Libraries! Take part with us and you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a bag full of books and other goodies representative of the decades of the last century.

You have until the end of February to complete your journey…

You can find more information and inspiration for reads from and set in the different decades at

Where will your Passport take you?

Explore Learning Pirate Workshops

Ahoy me hearties!pirate-kidswith-treasure

Your children can have fun and get writing creatively this half term at the following libraries:

  • Central Library (01793 463238) on Wednesday 26th October from 11-12noon
  • Park Library (01793 463501) on Friday 28th October from 11-12noon,
  • Wroughton Library (01793 798112 ) Tuesday 25th Oct at 12-1pm

The creative writing workshops are most suitable for ages 8-11. Children can put themselves in the shoes of Jack Sparrow and experience life as a pirate. Concentrating on diaries and creative writing, let them be inspired by the nautical world.

pirates-on-pirate-shipThe workshops are being held by the fantastic tutors at Explore Learning. Over the past 15 years they have helped over 175,000 children achieve their potential, giving them the space to unlock their imagination and discover the magic of learning.

Workshops are being offered free of charge, but advance booking is required as spaces are limited. Contact the library directly to make your booking.





Why Participate in National Novel Writing Month?

nano-logo[Article written by Kat Armstrong, Municipal Liaison for the Swindon NaNoWriMo Region]

“I started taking part in National Novel Writing Month in 2012 during my first year at University. I was a stressed out undergrad in a degree that I wasn’t sure about (Religious studies Major with Creative Writing Minor) and one of the girls in my Creative Writing class suggested that I give it a go, that maybe it would help me work out if I should, in fact, be writing.

Because my Minor was the only thing about University that I wanted to do. Not the drinking and the parties, just those glorious few hours of writing classes per week.

Had to be worth a shot, right? How hard would 50,000 words be?

The answer is hard. I did not complete my first NaNo, running out of steam and coffee at around 35,000 words, but I can’t ever see that first caffeine fuelled month as a failure. It changed everything.

I dropped my Major and took on Creative Writing full time, as my degree. I didn’t know what I would do with it, but if NaNo had taught me anything it was that I knew I wanted to write, and that I was more capable than I had first thought.

The ‘why’ is a question that now, in my fourth year with three NaNo manuscripts sitting happily in a folder, I get asked over and over by non-participants and new participants alike.

Why do you put yourself through it? Why should I put myself through it? Why do you find it fun?

The answers, as it turns out, are easy.

NAWRIMO writers group

NaNoWriMo 2014 at the Central Library

Why do I do it?

Well, because I’ve come to love it. I love the thrill of hurtling through a story with no real idea where I’m heading. I love watching characters that I had carefully planned out stare at my plan, shrug, and run away giggling in their own direction.

I love racing against myself for new and more challenging personal bests. My why, is that I adore every moment that my hands are at the keyboard. I will confess that my stress levels rise a little through the month of November, juggling a house and a cat and a job and a very understanding partner.

But some of the work I have created through NaNo has been better than I could have imagined – some of it has been worse that I thought possible but you have to take the good with the bad. It makes me give my writing time, and space, and I get to do it with a wonderful community who all have my back as much as I have theirs, and all want me to reach that elusive 50k.

Why should I put myself through it?

Now here’s a question. Why should you join us for National Novel Writing Month? My immediate answer is because it’s wonderful, but that doesn’t help you decide.

You should do it if you want to, first and foremost. Don’t let the target scare you, you don’t have to reach for 50k, and you certainly don’t have to hit it. If you love writing, or want to love writing, or want to know if you might love writing, then you should do it. Even if it’s just once and you vow never to come back again. (We have some participants who, at the end of each year say never again, and then come back the next year).

You should do it because you will meet some wonderful people who never scoff at ideas and want to lend a hand where they can.

You should do it because it will teach you a lot about how easily you can stay awake for 30 hours on nothing but cheap energy drinks and the thrill of finding out what might happen to your characters next. You should do it for you, and for everything that it might bring you.

So why NaNo? For the joy. For the excitement. For the support.

For the writing.

We hope to see you with us through the month of November in the Swindon Central Library.

Please, even if it’s just through insane curiosity, come and join us. Everyone is welcome.

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participantDates for your diary at Central Library:

Plan your novel with us: Saturday 22nd October 12 – 3pm and Friday 28th October 12 – 3pm

Launch day and info session: Sunday 30th October, 12pm – 3.30pm

Write your novel with us:  Every Saturday in November, 12pm – 3.30pm

Check out last year’s blog post to see why other folk join NaNoWriMo each year.

NaNoRiMo writers

NaNoWriMo 2014 at Central Library.

Calling All Budding Young Writers of West Swindon!


BT and Barclays give budding young authors in West Swindon the chance to co-write a new book with best-selling author of Darkmouth, Shane Hegarty

As part of the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme, West Swindon Library is one of a selection of regional sites across England participating in a creative writing competition for budding young authors. Aspiring writers in each of the sites, with support from local Barclays Digital Eagles, will be invited to contribute a chapter for a brand new story by Shane Hegarty, author of the hugely popular Darkmouth series, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. One chapter from each area will go on to be featured in the online final book.

Shane Hegarty has set the scene with a gripping first chapter, set in the Darkmouth universe, which sees our heroes, Emily and Damian, set-off on a whirlwind adventure across the country in pursuit of a mythical monster.

The competition is a chance for youngsters in West Swindon, under the age of 18, to make use of the free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi to continue the story, writing a 500-word chapter about Emily and Damian’s monster-hunting exploits in their local area. Entrants are encouraged to use the internet as a resource for their research and inspiration whilst writing their submission.

The competition is open now until the end of November 2016

You can pick up the first chapter and the entry form from West Swindon Library

You can find out more about the national competition via the BT website here

Please contact West Swindon Library, 01793 465555 for further local information.


A Year in the Life

We are often asked as outreach officers what we actually do in our role, so we thought we’d give you a brief overview of ‘a year in the life of outreach’.

Much of the work we do is based around the SCL Universal Offers & has a calendar of events which you can find here

However, just to give you a flavour, here is a summary of some of our main projects…


National Libraries Day

This key event, which usually takes place in February of each year, is an opporboat and bookstunity to showcase our services.  Last year we focused on digital resources including our EBook offer.  This year we focused on our under 5s offer, which involved the ‘boat’ image on recycling Lorries, adshells and on social media.  Alongside this was the launch of North Swindon Library’s dad’s storytime, a special one-off dad’s storytime at Highworth & special promotions with the Bookstart bear at soft – play areas.

This resulted in a 35% increase in under 5s books for that period, 31% increase in new membership to under 5s card & 47% more people accessing our blog.  This was alongside some impressive social media usage too!


Bookbike Tours!

Now that we have our funky new Book Bike, we can take this to community events and settings that we struggled to engage with before.  This included targeted parental workshops in partnership with early years and our Penhill Bookbike Tour.  For this

©calyx_Pictures_Swindon Pride Parade

©Calyx Pictures. Pics Calyx/Dave Cox Swindon Pride Parade held through the streets of the Old Town.

we worked with housing and the Street Reps to engage with different groups in the community, in December 2015 & June 2016.  Looking at Penhill Library stats from January 2016 – June 2016, new membership increased 31% with active membership increasing 12%.

Alongside this, we have taken the bike to Highworth May Day, a Local History event, Highworth festival, Children’s Fete & Cineworld!

Bookstart Week

This takes place every year around the first week of June and we use this to promote all things under 5s and families.  Each year had a different theme and this year was under the sea, which fitted really well with our National Libraries Day campaign.  As part of this we had a tour of the Bookstart Bear, alongside our Penhill Bookbike targeted tour.


Steve Antony!Steve Antony

This year we say the wonderful local author and illustrator Steve Antony became patron of our children’s services.  His books are simply beautiful and we are thrilled to have his support.


Author Events & Literary Performances

We are extremely lucky in Swindon to have Arts Council funding through our Artswords private-peacefulproject, to pay for some fantastic performances.  In the past this has included Sammy the Snow Leopard & Private Peaceful.  This year we had the fabulous John Kirk perform his interpretation of The Twits by Roald Dahl, to help promote our Summer Reading Challenge.  This was a fantastic success, with over 200 children attending two events in our libraries.

We also have free children’s author events, organised through our national libraries’ contacts and through publishers.


The Summer Reading Challenge

This is simply our biggest project of the year.  Every year approximately 3500 Swindon 66readlowchildren engage with the challenge, with approximately 2000 children completing. It accounts for approximately 30% of all children’s loans and supports visitor numbers and most importantly children’s literacy.  There is a cost to the outreach budget to pay for SRC materials (around 1/3 of all our money spent goes toward the SRC), but considering the results, we feel it is worth it.

For more information on the SRC, visit the Reading Agency website


Adult Literacy

As well as supporting children’s literacy we also co-ordinate Reading Ahead, which is the adult equivalent to the SRC.  We work in partnership with businesses and colleges to target emergent readers and try and get them into libraries and into reading in general. In 2015 187 people took part with 87 completing the challenge reading the full 6 reads each. Many participants feel much more confident in reading due to the scheme, with one mentioning “I now feel more confident in my ability to read a book.”


Health & Wellbeing

This has become more and more an important part of our remit and includes suppohealthrting the co-ordination of the Reading Well scheme, which helps people understand and manage their conditions, using self-help reading.  GPs can ‘prescribe’ a book or they can self-refer and it has the support of public health.

In conjunction with this, we also run health events, including World Mental Health Day.  This supports users and professionals to network and find out about services which are on offer locally.


As you can see, the life of Outreach is busy and we haven’t mentioned all the projects and events we support, manage and promote. We feel it is vital people have access to our services & we are motivated to improve the quality of people’s lives through our library offer






Write a novel this November!

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant‘Hey.’ Your best friend walks over. Or maybe it’s your mum, your teacher, your co-worker. ‘I’m going to write a novel this month. I’d like you to write it with me.’

I want you to imagine this. I want you to consider it. Because it sounds crazy, right? Writing a novel – a BOOK, you know, those big things with all the pages in – in a month has got to be completely mad. Who DOES that?

Well … as it turns out, a lot of people. Many of them even live in Swindon. And if you stop to think about it, writing a novel in a month might be crazy– but it’s a genius kind of crazy. It’s brilliant. It’s a lightbulb pinging on in your brain.

Your life is really busy. You have things to do. People to see. WORK (although the less said about that, the better). And writing a novel is a big commitment.

Unless you do it in a month.

nano-logoEnter National Novel Writing Month.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.

On the 1st November, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on the 30th November.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

Nobody looks over your shoulder. Your writing can be as rubbish as you like. All you have to do is write 50,000 words in one month (that’s roughly 1667 words a day) and at the end … you’ll have a book. It’ll need work, sure, but you’ll have written it. And earned bragging rights for being a NOVELIST, which is a nifty title.

Though it is largely done at home, alone, and online, the local Swindon region has many in-person meet-ups throughout the month where you can get advice and moral support and write alongside other participants.

And honestly … writing a novel is for everyone and anyone. If you’ve ever felt like you had a book inside of you just waiting to get out … well, now’s your chance.

For more information and to sign up for National Novel Writing Month, please visit

Article written by Victoria Boulton, Swindon Municipal Liaison and organiser of the NaNoWriMo group meeting at Swindon Central LIbrary, Regent Circus, SN1 1QP every Saturday in November 12-3.30pm.

Dates for your diary at Central Library:

Plan your novel with us: Saturday 22nd October 12 – 3pm and Friday 28th October 12 – 3pm

Launch day and info session: Sunday 30th October, 12pm – 3.30pm

Write your novel with us:  Every Saturday in November, 12pm – 3.30pm



World Mental Health Day at the Central Library


Monday 10th October is World Mental Health Day and the day will be marked at the Central Library with an afternoon event whereby various organisations and professionals will be promoting valuable advice and guidance.

From 13:00 to 16:00 there will be stands from groups such as the Health Ambassadors, LIFT Psychology Swindon, Swindon MIND, the Parkinson’s UK Swindon & District Branch, Baby Steps Swindon, Alzheimer’s Society and Change, Grow, Live: Swindon Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service offering advice and guidance as well as information about their services. There will also be a special afternoon Localities Drop-in.

There will be two Dementia Friends Information Sessions held during World Mental Health Day. The first will be from 1.5pm-2.00pm. Book your place on the Dementia Friends website

_dsc9047In the early evening – 18:00 start – there will be another chance to join us for a Dementia Information Session and become a Dementia Friend. It is a free session however, pre-booking is essential – book online or email .

In the evening – 19:15 start – we have the pleasure of hosting a poetry workshop with a great poet – Chris Tutton Poetry as Healing. Explore how reading and writing poetry can help with anxiety, stress and depression. Learn how to control emotions and become empowered in this friendly, supportive and interactive workshop.

Chris Tutton

Chris Tutton

The workshop is free to attend, however pre-booking is essential due to limited places.

We are also excited to have been given some fabulous artwork by a group of young people from CAMHS Marlborough House Adolescent Inpatient Unit, Swindon.
The young people took up the challenge to work on an art display to mark World Mental Health Day and have created pieces of artwork that fit with the theme of Psychological First Aid. Another piece was created during their resilience group and is a Wellbeing First Aid Box which has been made into a collage of things people can do to take care of their emotional health.
The young people got creative under the guidance of a wonderful artist, Kay O’Sullivan, and Rachel Coombes, Occupational Therapist.

We are very looking forward to the day. See you there!

For more information please contact Ewa Salik, or Leon Flower, on 01793 463790. Alternatively email us at or

Did you know Swindon Libraries hold a varied collection of Books on Prescription which can be borrowed for 3 weeks at a time?

Reading Well Books on Prescription helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading. The scheme is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians as part of the Society of Chief Librarians’ Universal Health Offer. It is funded by Arts Council England and The Wellcome Trust.

reading-reading-well-books-on-prescription-titles-copyright-the-reading-agencyBooks can be recommended by GPs or other health professionals from the relevant Reading Well Books on Prescription reading list. People can also self-refer to the scheme and use it without a professional recommendation. All the books are available in almost all English public libraries where they can be borrowed free of charge. The books have been recommended by experts, and been tried and tested and found to be useful.

Reading Well Books on Prescription covers a list for common mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, phobias and some eating disorders. Pick up a leaflet with all recommended titles in the library or download

We also have specialised collections of Reading Well Books for younger people, as well as a selection covering dementia.

Download a copy of the Reading Welll Books on Prescription for Dementia

Download a copy of the Shelf Help, Books on Prescription for younger people

All of the titles can be reserved through our Library catalogue





Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre:


The Path of the Poor Orphan Child – A Lecture by Dr Keith Hooper

An illustrated lecture that explores this wonderful and, at the time, highly controversial novel. The lecture will explore the themes and social context of this revolutionary story of an orphan girl who dared to determine her own destiny, as well as an overview of Charlotte Brontë’s life and work. 

Dr Keith Hooper (PhD) is a much respected speaker on nineteenth century literature. He has spoken at both the Swindon Festival of Literature and Westbury Festival of Arts and Music.
His previous lectures at Central Library on Charles Dickens and Jane Austen’s
Mansfield Park were both enthusiastically received. Dr Hooper has recently completed a commissioned biography of Charles Dickens which is due for publication in 2017.

Tickets: £2.50 (£1.50 library members) available from the Ground Floor Help Desk at Central Library SN1 1QG as well as all other Swindon Libraries. For further information Tel: 01793 463238 or email:

Big Friendly Read, Summer 2016 Competition Winners

We thought that all of the entries to this year’s Dahl themed Big Friendly Read Summer Reading Challenge competiton were excellent.We had such a fun time looking at them all, but we thought these were particularly fabulous! Can you see your entry here?

***All winners will be notified individually and prizes wil be available to pick up from the library where the entry was registered.

Many thanks to Freedog, LazerQuest, KidzAbout, Birdland, Butts Farm, Fairytale Farm, who all donated vouchers. Many thanks also to the Wyvern Theatre who generously donated a family ticket to a performance of Gangsta Granny at the Wyvern Theatre.

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The Pantaloons present Romeo and Juliet


The Pantaloons



Romance. Swordfights. Potions. Tragically slow messengers…

The critically-acclaimed Pantaloons give Shakespeare’s tale of ill-fated love a fresh twist!

A delightfully inventive take featuring live music, audience interaction and that famous bit with the balcony.

You’ll laugh until you cry…

  Tuesday 25th October


Central Library

Regent Circus,Swindon, SN1 1QG

Tickets £4 available from the Central Library or phone 01793 466454

 Tuesday 25th October


Highworth Library

Brewery St, Highworth, Swindon SN6 7AJ

Tickets £4 available from Highworth Library or phone 01793 463500

Performance length: Approx. 1hr 20

 Age suitability: 10+