I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library…
Jorge Luis Borges said that, and I think if he’d made it over here, he’d quite like Stirchley. It turns out that not only do we have two libraries, but we also have a small press and a raft of book clubs. Not bad for a small suburb. Have a read to find out about the smallest library in Birmingham, and the best named book club too…
Built in 1905 from red brick in Flemish bond with stone dressings, the Grade II listed building on Bournville Lane sits next to Stirchley Baths and plays home to the local library. As well as being able to borrow books, the library has free WiFi, a children’s library and the ability to print and photocopy (at certain times).
But things haven’t always been plain sailing for the library. Under threat of closure, the council have agreed to keep the library open, with the support of volunteers now known as Friends of Stirchley Library (FOSL) group. The group are responsible for covering some of the shortfall in reduction of hours, as well as fundraising to help keep the library going and host some very fun events including Lego Club, late night openings and the occasional silent disco. To find out more about FoSL or to get involved, visit their website.
This photo of Stirchley Library is from Fiona Cullinan aka Katchooo over on Flickr.
Books and a brew
It seems that for such a small space, Stirchley has a *lot* of book clubs, ranging from the very general to the very specialist, so there should be something to suit everyone. Here are just a few…
- Is This Tomorrow is a dystopian/utopian reading group which have read the likes of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World. Their next meeting is on 6th June to discuss Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.
- On the first Wednesday of every month, Stirchley Baths hosts a book club from 10-11.30am. The advice, according to the website, is simple; “Just turn up and enjoy a book with a cuppa.”
- On the second Saturday of the month from 11am to midday, Stirchley Readers meet at the library for their regular book club. It’s an all ages group, so feel free to bring your kids.
- Book Marx, the best name ever for a Marxist book club, meet every Wednesday evening (aside from the second Weds) at Artefact
- According to their website, Stirchley Primary School will be starting their own book club
in the spring term but I suspect that will only be for pupils.
- Artefact have also hosted the first Slow Food Club book club and there’s another one due in June, I believe.
Side note, as far as I know, none of the book clubs above have read Slay and I actually took this photo at Kafenion in Bournville. But if you want a (young adult) book which is about a boyband who fight demons, think One Direction meets Buffy/Supernatural, then I can highly recommend it.
The littlest library in the land
This adorable little find is nestled away on Bosbury Terrace, just behind Stirchley High Street. Part of the Little Free Library, “the world’s largest book-sharing movement”, Stirchley’s one is in fact the only Little Free Library in Birmingham. Which surely means Stirchley has Birmingham’s smallest library, right?
Run by Elenor, a confirmed bibliophile and a part-time librarian, it’s home to a handful of books and regularly topped up – but feel free to return a book once you’re done. Follow their adventures on the Little Free Library Stirchley facebook page.
Our own publishing house
Did you know Stirchley had its own publishing house? Well, technically it might be based just outside of the suburb, but Splice is Stirchley in spirit and that’s good enough for me. Not only is Splice a small press, publishing three collections of short stories as well as novels, they also release reviews on their website and then literally splice the work of their published authors.
Listen to the second episode of the Republic of Consciousness Prize podcast for a discussion on one of Splice’s titles, Nicholas John Turner’s Hang Him When He Is Not There, which was long-listed for the RofC Prize. About 45 minutes in is devoted to an in-depth conversation between four writers about the ins and outs of the sort of books Splice publishes.
To find out more about Splice, head over to Splice’s website.
This is part of the semi-regular Exploring Stirchley newsletter. To find out more visit the Exploring Stirchley page of this website.