About our Project

From the Vindolanda tablets and the writings of the Venerable Bede, to the publishing enterprises of the 17th and 18th centuries and the founding of the Lit and Phil, the North East has one of the oldest and richest literary traditions in Britain. This spirit continues today with a vibrant range of activities throughout the region, encouraged and sustained by its libraries.

Three of these libraries – Newcastle City Library, Gateshead Central Library and the Lit and Phil itself – have collaborated on a project with Newcastle University to help us learn more about readers and reading in the region.

What makes us decide to pick up a book? Or not? Do experiences of books in childhood affect the way we think of them today? Does our relationship with reading change over time? And if reading’s a matter of personal taste, why do some of us like to discuss it with others?

Reading groups in our libraries welcome many different people, from new readers to seasoned readers, including the sight-impaired, new parents and those keen to improve their literacy skills. We invited some of them to share their experiences with us.

In a pilot study conducted over six months, Emma Short created a collection of short audio interviews with readers at our partner libraries. These recordings will be accessible in Newcastle University Library by permission of those who took part. We are delighted to offer some extracts from them here.

The team would like to thank Newcastle University’s Institute for Social Renewal for providing the funding that made this pilot study possible. During this project, Jennifer Richards was a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellow. She would like to thank the Trust for supporting her research on Shared Reading.