Back in 2011 I had a dream, some might call it a crazed vision, of an online book sharing site where people in the local area could open up their home libraries to share books with their neighbours and make new social connections. So the St Michaels Bookshare was born, with the generous help and support of the Society of St Michaels and Kingsbury. It has been a fascinating journey, learning how to set up a new website, selling the concept to the community and meeting some lovely new faces along the way. Sadly though, the site hasn’t caught the imagination quite as well as we would have liked, so with a heavy heart we have taken the decision to retire the bookshare scheme. However this is not the end of community sharing, but hopefully the dawn of even better schemes such as StreetBank (www.streetbank.com) and FreeCycle (www.freecycle.org) where local people can share much more than just books. I’d like to thank all who supported the development of our bookshare scheme and look forward to meeting more people through other ways of sharing.
Since our last newsletter, we have held two “bookshare evenings” at The Portland Arms to allow people to meet the team behind its development, get a chance to run through the site in person and meet new people and have general bookish chats. We weren’t sure exactly how they would work out (and freak snow showers on the first night clearly didn’t help), but they’ve both been extremely helpful in getting user feedback on the site (positive thankfully!) and to hear about different people’s relationship with books. Having your own online bookshelf is an interesting exercise in self-reflection, and we’ve had some really fun discussions on what people have chosen to post and why. The online library is growing both in books and users so if you’re looking for a new book, a particular reference guide, or trying a new author why not browse www.stmbookshare.co.uk
We’re also planning another bookshare get-together for Wednesday 12th June 2013 at The Portland Arms from 7 30pm. Whether you want to know more about the site, or just fancy a chat about your latest read feel free to come along.
My main reading interests are history (with the emphasis on military history) and science (evolution, molecular biology and periodic forays into the bizarre world of quantum physics). There are instances of both strands on my contributions to the bookshare scheme.
Roy Jenkins biography, “Churchill”, offers a politician’s insights into the long career of a remarkable man. Without stinting on the wartime period, the rich and varied path to the point, sometimes in government, sometimes in the wilderness, is related entertainingly.
“DNA” by James Watson, one of the elucidators of the double helix structure in the 1950’s is a good general coverage of the science, the processes of discovery and the many applications of the knowledge from the human genome project to GM crops to DNA “fingerprinting”. The scientists perspectives are interesting on some of these politically sensitive topics.
“Guns, Germs and Steel”, by Jared Diamond, brings together historical and scientific strands in his survey of the last 13,000 years from the point of view of geography and biogeography. He attempts to address the question why western Europeans dominated and colonized the globe while people in other regions became the dominated and colonized.
He rejects the racial arguments about intelligence which were more or less taken for granted in former times (he makes an amusing and completely unverifiable suggestion that hunter-gatherer communities have higher average intelligence (whatever that is) than modern urban dwellers on the basis that the hunter gatherer communities face greater selection pressures than urban dwellers whose survival depends less on their own capabilities).
He further rejects arguments based on social and cultural organization. Rather he finds the origins of success further back in history with factors such as climate, available raw materials, plant and animal species. Such topics as the suitability of grass strains for development into reliably grown cereal crops, the facility of domesticating animal species (contrast the horse and zebra) and the range and impacts of disease are considered.
His ideas are certainly controversial but are always thought-provoking and well presented.
Another of my titles on the bookshare scheme may be a bit misleading. “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian” by Marina Lewycka isn’t history at all. Rather it is a comic novel. One of the characters is writing the history in the title.
“Books are for life not just for Christmas”
Happy New Year! Hoping everyone had a great festive period and received/gave lots of nice presents. Maybe some of you received some new books - I’m particularly pleased with my latest graphic novel. But what happens to that book when it is read? Does it sit on a shelf, ‘to sleep perchance to dream’ of the day it might be read again? If so, why not check out the St Michael’s Bookshare site www.stmbookshare.co.uk and open that book to everyone in the village, see what books are already there and make connections with people in the area. It is early days but there are already 100 books to borrow from the site! If you want to know more, please drop me an email email@example.com
We are planning an event to include a live demonstration and book swapping on
Wednesday 13th March at the Portland Arms from 7.30pm
Several Society committee members will be there as a start, having a drink or some food too. However, the get-together is open to anyone in the village, Society member or not. Why not call in, sign on or just find out more? You can bring with you any books you might want to sign on with. Meet ups like this one should help those who do not use the internet. Dates and times of further meet ups will be on the Society website Bookshare page. The next one has been fixed for Wednesday 10 April at the same place and same time.
It’s here!!! (well sort of)
Hello good people of St Michaels – we have news! We have finally set up a new online bookshare scheme for St Michaels, imaginatively titled “St Michaels Bookshare”. Yep, it is live and you can dive in and use it straight away by going to www.stmbookshare.co.uk and signing in (very easy trust me). You’ll see that there are already a range of books uploaded to request (Batman novels anyone? I’m your man), and though we’d like to see people share their own books, this is not necessary to get involved.
As you can imagine with any new project we are still working through some teething problems, however we’ll be fixing these over the next few weeks. In the meantime if you have any problems or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or Society members can come along to the AGM where I’ll be available to discuss the scheme and provide support.
Tell all your friends! The bookshare scheme is open to anyone in St Michaels, Society members or not, and we will be sorting an open gathering for anyone to attend free in due course.
A community book-share scheme this way comes…
Over the past few editions we have floated the idea of setting up a community book-share scheme where local people can advertise books that they own and would be open to sharing with their neighbours. After receiving funds through our local county councillor, we have overseen the development of a way of doing this online. We’re now in our “testing” stage (will it work!?) and as we get it up and running we hope to expand it across St Michaels where soon we’ll be able to share our copies of A Tale of Two Cities, The 39 Steps or Fifty Shades of Grey(!). More details coming soon, but in the meantime happy to answer any questions by email at email@example.com
In the last newsletter, we floated the idea of setting up a bookshare scheme here in St Michael’s to help people easily share books and literary insights across the village. We’ve had some really lovely and positive feedback for this idea, and buoyed by your enthusiasm we want to make it a reality. Thanks to the support of our local county councillor we have secured a grant of £500 to set up an online sharing site for St Michael’s. So what are the next steps? Well, we are working on the technical side of things in getting it up and running (any local budding web developers welcomed!), and once that is done we will test the site and launch it as a free to access service for everyone in St Michael’s. If you are interested in helping to set this up, or are keen to take part, please feel free to drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and if you missed the last newsletter (and wondering what on earth this is about) check out a similar tool here http://www.nesta.org.uk/bookshare.
Maybe it's just me (in these cases it often is), but I find myself of late looking at my book shelf (or space in the corner) and wondering if I'm doing my beloved library a disservice - after all, is a book alive or dead if it's stored away and left unread (poetic)? Across the country, online community book-share schemes are being developed and the Society has been discussing whether we could set one up here.
Local people would be able to choose and upload books they were willing to share with other people in the area and in effect we could create our own virtual community library. The technological means already exist (http://www.nesta.org.uk/bookshare) but to make something like this work it needs people who would want to use it by sharing children's books, cookery books, the latest novels, classics, reference books etc.
What do you think? Could this work here? If you are interested and would like to discuss further please feel free to drop me a line. My email address is email@example.com