The Festival began with a film shown on Friday 14th October. The Ultimate Survivor  showed  the  100 year history of the Ultimate Picture Palace , the little cinema on Jeune Street off the Cowley Road . It was produced and directed by local film maker Philip Hind who has since come to live in Kennington. On Saturday 15th October, we had a full programme of activities including Kate Clanchy (Oxford’s city poet), Korky Paul (illustrator of Winnie the Witch) and the legendary Brian Aldiss.

To see more of what was on offer you can download the Kennington Literary Festival booklet.

Our aim had been to raise just enough money to support our children’s activities and monthly local author talks by charging a small reservation fee to secure a seat.  Anyone turning up on the day could have any remaining places free of charge.  All that has had to change. Kennington was one of the 20 libraries threatened with closure.  Because of cuts to their revenue, the County needed to cut the library budget by 25 %. Instead of coming up with a proposal to impose cuts on all libraries the County came up with a much fairer plan!!! They decided  that it was reasonable to close 20 village and suburban libraries and give the remaining town or hub libraries extra money.

You will not be surprised that if you lived in one of those villages or districts you felt the injustice acutely. Korky Paul and MG Harris responded to our request to lead our Pied Piper Procession from St Swithuns school to the Village Centre. The regional TV and press recorded the 300 yard long procession. The children played noisy percussion instruments or carried posters. We  invited  the leader of the council to tea to receive 600 letters and the children’s posters. We didn’t make speeches but let him speak . We did, however, insist that Councillor Mitchell stay to listen to Korky read to the children and witness for himself the importance of children being exposed to reading for pleasure. We rounded up the tea party with our children’s choir  Music Mayhem singing Consider  yourself at Home  from  Oliver and urged him to rethink – he did!

We stayed open but are designated a community library and so will only have 50 % professional staffing. Our committee want to ensure that a professional librarian is  present during all opening hours and so we need to fund- raise  to cover the shortfall. We can no longer afford the time and effort to run a free literary festival and instead organise Gala Evenings.

On October 5  best selling novelist  Simonetta  Agnello Hornby will  return to Kennington where she lived for a few years and be our guest speaker at our cabaret style Italian evening  with a three course meal included.

Click on the  castaways facebook link to see a pic of Simonetta and some images from previous gala events and of a free children’s event with Cressida Cowell of How to tame my dragon fame.