Bored? Find New Hobbies With Shaftesbury Library’s Saturday Sessions

Shaftesbury Library hopes to inspire you to take up a new hobby. Over the next five Saturday’s you’ll be able to learn about different pastimes from ham radio to yoga.

Staff at the Bell Street facility are putting their enhanced inter-library book lending system to the test, by tracking down and displaying reference books on each of the featured activities. “It’s a time of year when the nights are long and the days are dreary to some. Many people are thinking about hobbies and what they can do to occupy themselves in the evenings,” said library worker Caroline Elletson.

“We’ve ordered in a selection of books in connection with activities that will be on display and the demonstrators demonstrating them. We have everything from lacemaking to mini bookmaking to patchwork quilting,” explained Caroline. “We’ve got a well-known professional Dorset buttoneer demonstrating the making of Dorset buttons and we’ve even got a yoga person coming in to demonstrate her techniques. And we’re looking for anybody else who has something that they are passionate about, something that’s creative, that they can demonstrate to the public.”

Shaftesbury Library

The staff have managed to unearth an impressive array of specialist guides and manuals to accompany the activities. “We have three books on Dorset button making in the library, available to borrow at the moment. Since we became ‘Libraries West’ we have access to many more books and we can borrow from other libraries in Gloucestershire and Somerset. So we’re very lucky in that respect,” said Caroline.

Finding ham radio books has been trickiest so far but they are enjoying the challenge. “We’ll have to wait and see who else comes on board. We hope that there are more people out there who would like to showcase their hobby or craft interest.”

Library Manager Helen Baker hopes the sessions will help locals enhance their free time. “People can come in, get a taster session and they can try and look at different things that they haven’t considered before. It’s a way for them to kick-start their creative New Year,” Helen said, adding that it is a new idea. “It came from somebody within Dorset Libraries who suggested a hobbies day. Other libraries do similar things but we thought we’d extend that because there is so much going on in this community. So to do it justice we’re doing it for a month to start with. If anybody has any interest that they would like to challenge us to get a book on, then get in touch and we will give you a slot.”

Caroline Elletson (left) and Helen Baker

Each Thursday, a different hobby practitioner will set up a display inside the library, before the Saturday morning demonstration. The programme begins on 12th January. “We start off on Saturday with a very talented traditional lace maker who is coming in to show us a work in progress”, said Caroline. That’s Ann Chadwick, who will be joined by her husband Keith, a ham radio operator and member of the Blackmore Vale Radio Society.

“We’re going to have a Morse code demonstration from one end of the library to the other. It’s really for people of all ages I’d say. It’s a proper family event and it should be good fun. We are looking forward to it,” said Helen.

On 19th January, artist Sandy Roberts will showcase her mini book and card making craft skills. Sandy used to manage Sturminster Newton Library until her retirement and she’s exhibited her craft skills at Shaftesbury Arts Centre.

Helen Seaford of Shaftesbury and Gillingham U3A presents patchwork quilting on 26th January and Anna McDowell will talk about Dorset button making on Saturday 2nd February.

There’s a Dru yoga demonstration by Berwick St John-based expert Kirsty Elliott on Saturday 9th February.

Each of the Saturday events runs between 11am and 12noon. “It’s a platform for them to come in and demonstrate to the public,” said Caroline, and she hopes that more locals will share their hobbies during the following weeks.

Some of the cast from the Arts Centre pantomime ‘The Nutcracker’ will entertain children on the 19th of January, too. “The Shaftesbury Arts Centre cast are coming in full costume from the pantomime. They’ll take over our regular ‘Giggle Wriggle’ session and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Helen. Giggle Wriggle is another of the ways in which the library engages with younger readers. “Every Saturday morning, at 10.30am, we have the sessions, which include story time for the children and an activity followed by Lego time.”

If you’ve not called into Shaftesbury Library for some time, you’ll be surprised that this is a vibrant, busy community space. You no longer have to sit in silence. Caroline says that since they brought in computers, which are ironically often blamed for people not talking to each other, you can speak in the library. “We have free Wi-Fi. People can come in and use the computers. When people are tapping away on the keyboard there is inevitably going to be some noise,” said Caroline.

The staff hope that locals will call in to learn more about Shaftesbury’s talented local hobbyists. And if there’s demand, the programme of events could be extended. “Even if people are not interested in taking up a hobby it is something to do on a Saturday morning,” said Caroline. If you’d like to get involved you can contact the library on 852256.