Setting Sail: My Life as Reader in Residence

Renita Boyle and the Jack and Lily Club
Category: Reading

I wonder what you’re doing today? I will be setting sail with a fearsome bunch of Vikings on their ship, The Golden Dragon, in their quest to follow the sun. We will meet monsters, make music, survive storms, celebrate our victories and make a dragon sneeze so hard that we are blown to the other side of the sea. 

Come to think of it, you might want to step back.

Or, you might want to take a step in - into my world as a Scottish Book Trust Reader in Residence for Dumfries and Galloway Libraries.

My role has been so vast and so varied that it can sometimes be difficult to tell people what I do. One thing is for certain, however: I do not sit in the corner of the library and read books. Instead, I use every ounce of my energy as a storyteller to engage folks in the art and heart of story; on the page, off the page, all around us and in our lives.

Hence my library partner, Anne Rinaldi, and I set sail on a journey of our own - a quest to: 

  • Train library staff (parents, teachers and other interested persons) in a variety of storytelling methods; particularly the use of storysacks
  • Establish sustainable Jack and Lily clubs which engage staff and kids themselves in storytelling, crafting, games, activities and reading
  • Facilitate oral reminiscence and memoir writing groups for adults and families to share their own life stories
  • Introduce new audiences to the library service via classic tale events: ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’
  • Recruit fresh readers and enhance reader group experience through Human Library events which involve other local authors, artisans and historians
  • Develop and use existing social media to enhance and extend the reach of the residency beyond the library service, its hubs and branches. 

Along the way, those who have set sail with us have discovered their voices. They have grown in confidence, gained in skills, shared their experiences, created new memories and re-discovered old tales, crafted beautiful objects, supported one another, played together and laughed. They are leaving a legacy in the library and community which will long endure when the residency is over.

Part of my legacy (post residency) will be the creation of numerous blog posts and resources for those of you who might want to try some of these activities for yourselves. Until then, you can download a more detailed account of the development of Jack & Lily Story Clubs in the Spring 2015 Issue of Blethers as well as useful resource I put together for how to use storysacks.

For now though, we are mid-way through and our quest continues - not a monster in sight. Though there is the small matter of the sneezing dragon. Now where did I put my oars?  

Renita Boyle

Renita Boyle is currently the Scottish Book Trust Reader in Residence for Dumfries and Galloway Libraries.

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