Explore Central Library’s weird and wonderful books

Liverpool John Moores University is commencing a series of free to attend public talks on Wednesday 17 September to hear academics explore familiar and less well-known books in Liverpool Central Library’s extensive collection.

The project entitled ‘Shelf Lives’ will see academics from LJMU’s School of Humanities and Social Science English programme delivering short presentations on a chosen text, followed by an open floor discussion with audience members. The intention is to stimulate interest in reading by offering a range of perspectives on popular and less familiar texts, while also highlighting Central Library’s tremendous resources. 

English Lecturer Gerry Smyth developed the idea in consultation with Mike Taylor, Team Leader at Liverpool Central Library.

Gerry said: “The English teaching team at LJMU has always been keen to broaden the impact of its research and to engage with the fantastic cultural resources that are available throughout the local community. The renovated Central Library is an extraordinary and inspiring space, and we are very pleased to have this opportunity to test the divide between academia and those who just love reading.”

Mike Taylor welcomed the new series, commenting: “Shelf Lives is an exciting programme of presentations being offered in the newly refurbished Liverpool Central Library in partnership with LJMU. The project builds on the strong bond of mutual support between the public library service and the University that has developed over the past year, and will give public library users the opportunity to engage with academic staff who have expertise in areas relating to the texts being discussed. Our aim is to broaden knowledge and provide the audience with new and interesting ideas, which also highlight the depth and quality of the book collections in Liverpool Central Library.”

The initial session on Wednesday 17 September, which takes place in the meeting room on the top floor of the library, from 3pm to 4.45pm, features Dr Sonny Kandola on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Dr Fiona Tolan on Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman (1969), and Dr Kate Walchester on Edward Lear’s Illustrated Excursions in Italy (1846). The academics will be available after their presentations to further discuss the selected texts.

Future monthly talks will be taking place at the same time and venue on 15 October, 12 November and 10 December. Books discussed will include Denton Welch’s A Last Sheaf (1951), Alexai Sayle’s Stalin Ate My Homework (2010), Stan Hugill’s Shanties of the Seven Seas (1961), A.C. Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901-02), Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (1907) and Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler (1653).

The events are free to attend and there is no need to book a place. Visit the library’s website liverpool.gov.uk/libraries to find out more about Central Library’s resources and facilities. Follow the English teaching team on Twitter @JMUEnglish