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Guest Post: Get Creative – and Reimagine the Library

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Dr James Randall – who has worked on Bath’s annual Forest of Imagination creative education event and lives in the city – writes about creativity and imagination in the library.


How does creativity begin? With a feeling? An image? We all have different inspirations, but try starting with a book. Any book. Maybe a library book you’ve been meaning to take back. Flick through it, finding something that catches your imagination. A picture, a story, an idea…. then see where your thoughts take you.

A library hums with creativity, but for most of us lockdown has meant only being able to imagine being in one. I imagine taking a path around a library, seeing familiar books while finding new ones along the way. A library is a maze which you can return to and keep discovering new paths, as if in a forest. New ways to explore and imagine the world.

This maze includes favourite books that connect with something inside of us. There are lots of favourite imaginative books that are on my path through the library, some with local connections: The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon by Bath Spa University’s David Almond; The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter (who lived in Bath in the 1970s); Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book (translated from Turkish by Maureen Freely, who lives just outside Bath); Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which was written in part here; and The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz, who lived in a town in Poland but I can imagine his stories coming to life in Bath, where nature and other magical things seem to mix easily.  

When I imagine libraries reopening for everyone, I also think of the city filling with more play and creativity. I think of a forest full of new voices and things starting to grow with fresh vigour.

Imagine a library like a forest full of books and voices. How do you imagine it? Draw a picture of it, create a cover for a book: The Library of Imagination? Or tell us your favourite books in the library, and send us your words and pictures to @forestimaginatn We look forward to seeing you there!


Bath’s Forest of Imagination will return at the end of June and the beginning of July this year with planned public in-person events (fingers-crossed!) and online activities on Twitter, Instagram and via the Forest website. Please see the Forest of Imagination website for the latest event news.


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