Barry and Llanelli chosen as 'Reading Towns'

Welsh Books Council

Barry and Llanelli chosen as 'Reading Towns' - 06 May 2008

Barry and Llanelli chosen to lead

Wales as  ‘Reading Towns’

Two Welsh towns have been selected for a special reading challenge as part of the National Year of Reading in Wales 2008 and will each receive  £20,000 to promote the reading campaign in their local area.

Following receipt of bids from local authorities and a rigorous selection process, the communities of Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan and Llanelli in Carmarthenshire have been chosen to lead the way in Wales. The remaining 20 local authorities will each receive  £500 to organise their own reading communities promotion.

Pioneered in America the reading town campaign will see both communities selecting their own Welsh- and English-language titles to be promoted throughout the area. A full programme of activities will then be arranged in order to encourage the public to read and discuss the individual books.

Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, Director of the Welsh Books Council, who are coordinating the Year in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, said: "We received a number of applications from local authorities outlining their plans to be the leading reading towns. The bids included numerous interesting proposals to increase awareness of the benefits of reading and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to pick up a book and to enjoy the pleasure of reading.’’ 

Education Minister Jane Hutt said: "Today’s announcement is great news for both Reading Towns, enabling them to organise events and activities inspiring people of all ages to pick up a book. Reading is a vital life skill and with so many exciting events taking place across Wales as part of the National Year of Reading, I am sure many more people will realise the joy and pleasure that can be gained from the written word."

Lead by local coordinators, Barry and Llanelli will now launch programmes of activity and community involvement to encourage people within their local community to get on board and join the campaign.

Commenting on their success, Dewi Thomas, Principal Libraries and Heritage Officer for Carmarthenshire County Council, said:  "We are delighted that Llanelli has been selected as one of the two Reading Towns for the National Year of Reading in Wales, particularly as we have a busy and highly regarded library in Llanelli which will be the focus of many of the activities."

"The local coordinator and library staff are planning a full calendar of activities which will involve all generations and groups within the communities surrounding Llanelli, and the funds allocated to us will ensure that we make reading accessible to all.  We are looking forward to working with the county's schools, residential homes, local literary societies and community centres as well as seeking to involve local celebrities including the Llanelli Scarlets."

"During September and October of this year, local people will have ample opportunity to join in a variety of events ranging from joining a reading group through to voting for the county's favourite books.  We hope that the activity and buzz generated in Carmarthenshire will spread to other counties across Wales and contribute to a national debate about the importance of reading."

Sian Jones, Chief Librarian for Vale of Glamorgan Council, commented: "We are delighted to have been successful in our bid to take part in the Reading Towns initiative.  This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Year of Reading in Wales and to generate a programme of activities for readers in Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan."

"We will be planning a number of projects, including a creative writing project and an art project using the themes of the chosen books. We plan to hold a big weekend of events in the autumn based in the new County Library in Barry where people come together to enjoy a programme of author visits, workshops and other reader-focused activities.  Our aim is simply to celebrate reading."

The two Reading Towns will work closely with the Welsh Books Council to contribute to the overall activities of the Year of Reading in Wales. Delyth Humphreys, Coordinator of the National Year of Reading in Wales, commented: "We’re eager to start working with Llanelli and Barry and have been very pleased to hear about some of their exciting plans to involve the public - it promises to be a great experience for everyone!"

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