In a nutshell
Who are you?
John Maguire, Community Engagement Officer, MyClubmoor.
What did you do?
Create a book throne.
To offer somewhere that people could come and sit down for a minute and have a little read, ideally to promote literacy and books.
What’s the benefit?
Our mantra for the community hub is to bring people together. That’s exactly what it’s done.
That no-one would engage with it.
Find a space
I had worked on another community project in Belle Vale, another part of Liverpool. It was a local school which had taken over a disused unit in a shopping centre. Basically, you could go and take a book, or drop books off, like a library, only you could keep them.
So, when I came to the community hub, it was just launching and I wanted to emulate something similar. The idea of our space is to have a blank canvas, so one minute it’s a yoga studio or a pottery then the next it’s a drumming workshop. To keep the space versatile, I was really conscious we couldn’t have something like a big book library. But a book throne is perfect.
You can put them anywhere really and in the future, we’re looking at having a mini version, like a pop-up, that we could take with us.
Design your throne
You need to create a really good throne. When we created ours, we were working with one of our grant winners from Liverpool Pallet design and their day to day business was up-cycling palettes.
I drew a coarse sketch of something I’d seen in America which was a reading throne. Like Game of Thrones, but you had a chair which people could put free books in and you could take or drop them off etc. I wanted something where people could just take free books.
That’s how the ingredients came together and then we presented it to the board who authorized it to be made. It was just one of those alchemy moments.
Fill it with books
We put the word out online and with posters. We haven’t had any problem keeping it well stocked. They come from local community groups or people just donate when they come to choose one.
It’s good to get someone involved who’s really into books and loves passing them on. Then word spreads and the throne grows.
Use it for events
When we opened the community hub, the book throne became a fixture and it stuck.
Now, whenever we do a particular event, for example, last year we had an International Food Day cookery event, we populated it with free cook books. Then we had a Remembrance and War Memorial Day, so we populated it with war poetry and history books and horrible histories. Over the summer we’re crafting a book stamp wax seal, like one of the old school library stamps. So, whenever anyone takes a book or donates one it’ll get a stamp, so people will know it’s come from MyClubmoor Community Hub. It’ll say: “Readmore@MyClubmoor.”
We also run a shared weekly reading group there (the Good Neighbour Project), reading a story out which ties into the throne. The other week we were looking at Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds”. I put a lot of short story books in there. From reading the story people were like, “oh, I’ll go and take one of those books.”
We did have to varnish it because we don’t want anyone to get splinters and at first we had children climbing on it. But as soon as you explain to people what it’s for, they stop. My bugbear is people putting cups of tea on it, “I’m like nooooo!”
It’s a great accompaniment to the community hub space. I feel it’s a talking point because it looks so cool. It’s a load of old scaffolding and palettes, just recycled. People drop books off, share books, it’s bringing that unity together.