Archive for July, 2009

Despite the overwhelming evidence on climate change, global leaders appear to not be listening.
Oxfam’s new report “Suffering the Science”  combines the latest scientific observations on climate change with evidence from the communities we work with in almost 100 countries around the world, to show how the changing climate is already hitting poor people hard.


Haiti is a country that climate change will have a huge impact on. It’s the poorest country in the western world, with three-quarters of Haitians living on less than $2/day. Oxfam is fundraising for money to help Haiti cope better with the devastation storms and hurricanes that are hitting the island more and more often. We at the bookshop will be getting involved so stay posted for information of an upcoming event that we will be raising money at. More on this topic through the link below.


Lastly , here’s an update on what the G8 are doing (and not doing) this year in the lead-up to Copenhagen in December.


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Selected hardbacks/trade paperback fiction go on £0.99p sale from today. Fiction, crime and sci-fi up for cheap grabs (table on the left just inside the door).

The question of the day is: which unsorted stack of books will gain the greatest height before being attended to? Biography or medicine? Both are currently at about five solid, neat feet (I need to qualify in case health & safety officers are patrolling my words!). Looking at them now over my lunch roll, I’m thinking medicine.

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Interesting article here regarding new social media and book sales. Our main motivation  for blogging etc was really to share info with our customer case and create a new way for them to feel a part of the store and the organisation. Though the idea of using these sites to try to actually sell books is interesting.


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Oxfam’s first Bookfest is officially over. The 2 weeks of events have been instructive, tiring and extremely worthwhile. It’s great what can be achieved with hard work and willingness. Kudos goes out to all managers and volunteers who organised and contributed to surely one of the widest diversity of book-related events yet staged in the UK. In the future, with the experience gained from this year’s event, we hope Bookfest or it’s progeny can be really pushed into the public eye as the unique event that it is.

My personal favourites were the Forensic CSI-style night and the World Poetry event. The first because it was fun, plain and simple. The second because of the poetry and song of Tawona and Ernest Sithole (please see the review below for more information). I’d also like to say thanks to Dr. Carol Trager-Cowan for coming last Wednesday and talking about Glasgow and Science. I know more about lightbulbs (Carol’s specialised field) than ever before and here’s hoping she and her team are succesful in developing an energy efficient alternative to the bulbs we currently use. More about Carol and her work can be found here:


Hopefully a review of city chambers will find it’s way on here soon, and also a review of the final event, Biotechnology and Medicine in the 21st Century held last Thursday. I personally did not attend so I’ll wait on someone else to write a piece.

John and I would like to personally thank all those who agreed to do events in our store and also to our volunteers for helping us set-up and tidy-up each evening. And on the off chance that anyone from Hillhead Library is reading, we realise we are a total pain asking for chairs every time we have an event and we would like to thank you for always providing.

Lastly – and most importantly – a particular commendation goes to John himself who has been stretched about as thin as possible over the last two months between coordinating the City Chambers event, our instore readings here and the supervision of all events in the area. He is now on a well-deserved weeks holiday..

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Here’s a review by Colin MacPherson of a recent event we held as part of Refugee Week.

“As part of Refugee Week and with the help of the Oxfam Asylum Positive Images Network the Oxfam bookshop at 330 Byres Road held a reading of poetry from members of the Maryhill Integration Network (m.I.N). The readings which took place on Tuesday 16th June were taken from Second Home, a book of poetry and prose compiled from refugees from across the world, now living in Scotland. These readings offered a unique insight into the lives and thoughts of those who have found a home in Scotland. Poems that were read by members of the Maryhill Integration Network included ‘How I See You’, ‘Another Incident’, ‘How I Got Here’ and ‘Second Home’.

The Maryhill Integration Network was established in 2001 and became a registered charity in 2006. It hopes to establish the integration of host communities and newcomers from different backgrounds to build social bridges and bonds, to influence services and to overcome isolation.With Scots from across the world marking the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth in this Year of Homecoming the poems read out during the evening provided a fantastic opportunity to embrace questions of identity and cultural diversity.

For further information on the Maryhill Integration Network log onto http://www.maryhillintegration.org.uk .”


Many thanks to Colin.

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The main event for our bookfest calendar was held last Wednesday at Glasgow City Chambers. Shop Manager John Connolly had worked himself to the bone during preparations so first off major credit goes to him. It was an excellent line-up and the day went very well. We hope there will be a full review on the oxfam.org.uk site soon.

Last Thursday evening 3 members of Strathclyde Police came to the shop to show us the techniques used in crime scene investigations (see photos below). They mocked up a crime scene in the store and brought a miscellany of actual forensic tools of the trade like dna sampling bags, evidence containers etc. Glasgow crime author Caro Ramsay was in attendance and was the first to agree to have her DNA sampled (given back to her of course!). We were then asked to split in to teams and come up with plausible (or rediculous) scenarios for the crime scene. An excellent event all round. Our many thanks to Strathclyde police for giving up their time (I think they enjoyed it as much as we did!).

Then on Tuesday we hosted performances of poetry and music. Our featured acts were Leela Soma, an Indo-Scot author living in Glasgow, and Tawona Sithole, a Zimbabwean also living in Glasgow who runs the Seeds of Thought poetry events (see photos below). Leela alternated between the everydayand the earnest to great effect,  underscoring the message more often than not with well-timed homour. Tawona’s work is more metaphoric and expansive in expression, inviting us into at times an almost mythical representation of his story. We heard several solo pieces from him. His brother Ernest was also in attendance and both brought Mbira with them. Mbira is a traditional African instrument. Playing of Mbira was a cornerstone of community and was once punishable by death in Zimbabwe. Many were burned, but in Tawona’s family two have been preserved. Tawona and Ernest play them to connect with, and educate us about, their heritage. The instrument makes a beautiful, slightly discordant (to ears used to well-tempered western instruments anyway) sound,  and we were treated to several pieces from the brothers. We are grateful to have had these unique artists in our shop.

More information can be found on Leela Soma at http://leelasom.com/Welcome.html

Tawona can be contacted thought their group webpage: http://www.geocities.com/seeds_ofthought/

Seeds of Thought runs regularly at the CCA and I recommend going along to see them perform.










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Bookfest so far

The main event is running right now at Glasgow city chambers, but there have been a couple of events at the shop already this week. On Monday evening, local author Roger Edwards gave an excellent talk about Glaswegian Agnes Harkness, a forgotten heroine of history from the Penicula Wars. Agnes tended to wounded soldiers and even ran for water in life-threatening surroundings before returning home and spending her advancing years in a poor house. Her bravery is worthy of commemoration or some kind, be it a small monument or – as Roger suggested – an Agnes Harkness Day. Anyway, I imagine her name is news to most and hopefully Roger’s work will be a catalyst for her inclusion into the establishment view of the past.

And last night we had our first bookquiz night at the 78 bar on Kelvinhaugh St. 7 teams attended and we offered book tokens for the shop for 1st and 2nd prize (£25 and £10 respectively). Derek, Anne and Pat set questions which we felt were neither too difficult not too easy but well pitched. A tie-breaker was necessary to decide second place at which point I made my personal contribution to the night – coming up with a tie-break question (guestimate the number of shops in the Oxfam UK chain). The staff were friendly and helpful, offering free teas, coffees and soft drinks for Oxfam staff and volunteers. All in all a good night. I hope we can repeat it soon.

And to recap, the other instore event this week is the “Forensic Night” on Thurs at 7.30. This should be fun. Three police officers are coming to host an interactive talk on forensic techniques, incluiding  how criminals are caught, what police look for at a fresh crime scene and how DNA sampling is done. Looking forward to it!

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