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#LibrariesAreEssential Case Study – Creative Writing at Perth College UHI Library

Category: #LibrariesAreEssential, Blog, Case Studies

In this #LibrariesAreEssential series, we’ll be sharing case studies and contributions from key figures that demonstrate the vital value of Scotland’s libraries, now more than ever, as we look to a brighter future post-pandemic. For details of how to submit your own case study, please click here.

Case study kindly submitted by Maria Ramirez, Library Assistant at Perth College UHI Library

‘At the beginning of the academic year 2020-21 I set up a creative writing group for Perth College UHI Library. The idea behind this project was to provide an informal space where library users, students and staff could talk about creative writing, get inspired with writing exercises, try out their work with other like-minded students and invite published authors. The group is open not only to the students and staff from Perth College UHI, where I work, but to all students and staff that belong to the partnership of the University of Highlands and Islands. I knew there was an interest in writing in the college and university, and I thought I could also support the students that are part of BA (Hons) Literature and Creative Writing offered by UHI.

The group has been a success in many ways. A large number of students got in touch and I ran the first session, but soon I asked students to collaborate as I wanted the members of the group to share their knowledge and abilities. As part of the creative writing group, I invited several published authors to run writing workshops during Book Week Scotland. These events were well attended and we were able to make them available to external visitors. One of the successes of the creative writing group is that we created a feedback programme where participants can share their work and received constructive feedback from others.

I am aware of the importance of reading, writing and creative skills, especially in an educational setting, and the role we as librarians play in promoting these skills. We can provide many opportunities for users to develop their written skills and develop their imaginations. I believe reading and writing are essential to improve our wellbeing but also important to improve academic skills. I really want to play an important role in encouraging and developing writing and creativity skills as I believe they are essential for students, our main library users, and really very beneficial in so many ways for staff members of the college/university too.

At this moment, due to the COVID pandemic, I think creating a community around creative writing is also really beneficial for many of us. From a personal level, when I write I forget about stress and it take me to a more positive state of mind. Through the creative writing group I am learning, improving my writing and gaining confidence in a skill I thought I did not possess.’

Feedback from group members and staff:

  • ‘Getting involved with the Creative Writing Club has provided me with excellent opportunities to do research, practice and learn multiple forms of creative writing, as well as granting me the chance to help create an inclusive artistic community.’ Student Misha Campello
  • ‘The workshop today was really good. It was nice and relaxed, making writing comfortable.’ Sheila Mackay, Carers Support Worker with Support in Mind Scotland
  • ‘Just wanted to thank you for a very interesting talk with Sara Bailey yesterday. She was great, wasn’t she?!! I thought the talk was amazingly intimate considering it was a virtual talk and we weren’t in the same room as Sara, something that people may not realise – how good a virtual talk can be. I will certainly mention this in future when recommending author talks.’ Anette Andersen – Librarian, Orkney College UHI
  • ‘That was very good. Thanks for organising it and thanks to Tracey Emerson for making it work. I sent A. K. a private message to tell I didn’t know she was a secret scribbler!’ Colin Sands, lecturer

Author Tracey Emerson has visited the group several times and filmed this video to advertise its activities to aspiring writers in the university community.

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