This morning was like a blast from the past, leaving Wolverhampton for Smethwick. Accurately speaking the former commute was to Oldbury and then West Bromwich. It was drizzling but quite mild with a damp breeze. I met with Jean Fenn, the Library Manager. She was great. We started by looking around the space. I used to know the library quite well. When I worked for Black Country Touring we ran an event or two in the community room upstairs and even the odd show in the main space downstairs. I always liked the place for it’s ease of access, its location in a community setting and the types of participants and audiences we engaged with. I suppose I feel like I did a bit of creative growing up here from the genesis of Apna Ghar, A Thin Red Line workshops and The Corner Shop oral history training. Dawn Winter, the former manager was a great support.
Jean Fenn was as equally impressive. We ran through the practicalities of the space. It’s a little all change. I was aware of the Big Lottery grant award they received a few years back, but I’d not seen the results: the new cafe, toilets and widening of the overall space.
But what I was most impressed with was the strategic development of LGBT resources: evident through displays, rainbow spine-tagged books, DVDs and magazines. Diva and Attitude sat next to Asiana and Asian Bride. I was delighted to see my Beneath the Surface publicity materials centre stage. The image of two men kissing blown up and clearly visible to library users.
There is an LGBT reading group that meets monthly. The library also organises an annual LGBT event. And now I’m on the cusp of presenting Asian gay and lesbian lives to the Smethwick community within a workshop setting, can’t wait. Roll-on Smethwick…