Favourite Things: Librarian Lesley on promoting reading in Doncaster

Lesley Hurworth
Lesley Hurworth

Lesley Hurworth works at the Armthorpe Academy as Resource Centre Manager and librarian. She is also Chair of the Doncaster Book Awards Ltd and works to promote reading, especially among young people, as much as she can.

Lesley has lived and worked in the Doncaster area for over 30 years, and has a 13-year old daughter.

work interests:

I work at Armthorpe Academy as Resource Centre Manager and Librarian. The resource centre is very much at the heart of the school and is a vibrant hub in constant use. It’s definitely not a conventional library, we do have books, but we also have loads going on including darts and lots of extra-curricular activities.

I’m a massive believer in getting students to read through whatever medium attracts them. Playing darts is one method I use especially, to encourage boys to use the library. Every day is different and the students are key to the enjoyment of my role. The students I work with are tremendous and keep me going through a hard week; along with my passion for getting kids reading.

Involvement with local groups:

I am Chair/Director of the Doncaster Book Awards Ltd, which is a non-for-profit volunteer-run organisation.

The DBA organises events to promote reading for pleasure amongst nine to14 year olds, with innovative ways of engaging children of any ability or background with books, and with the goal of making children readers for life.

I would love to make Doncaster a town of readers. I think things look very promising, given that the DBA has grown from hosting events for 50 children in its infancy 13 years ago, to at our last event at The Dome that attracted almost 1,000 children.

Doncaster and its attractions

I think Doncaster is a really exciting place to be right now. We have fantastic history associated with our town, one of only three Mansion Houses in the country, a historic racecourse and Doncaster’s industrial heritage as well as exciting developments with the airport and civic area amongst other things.

I think we are so fortunate in Doncaster to have a world class racecourse. Although I don’t go as often as I’d like to, when I do go I know I’m always guaranteed a wonderful time.

Favourite place and pastimes:

My favourite place would be anywhere that I could walk in the countryside for hours and hours. I absolutely love peace and beautiful scenery.

I would say my favourite pub would be The Duke William in Haxey where they do a cracking Sunday lunch.

When I get the chance I like travelling, especially to Cornwall; I love its surf culture even though I’ve just sold my surfboard! I love reading and enjoy watching live music and am passionate about ballet.

Books or films to recommend:

Asking a librarian to pick their favourite book is almost impossible.

I think that John Boyne is a great author and would definitely recommend ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ for young people to read.

I do have a book that I bought a long time ago, which is a book I treasure, and it’s by Julian Cope, called ‘The Modern Antiquarian’. If you like stone circles and tree hugging it’s perfect!

I don’t have a favourite film as such....I probably have a dozen favourites, but if I had to pick it would be The Ladykillers. I think the Ealing films are all brilliant and you can’t beat a good black comedy, this film is just genius!

On meals and music:

I like everything music-wise! Before I worked in schools I was a music librarian so my taste in music is broad to say the least.

I enjoy anything from Beethoven to Miles Davis, or Steeleye Span to The Prodigy! I enjoy discovering new music and listening to live bands but I guess my most listened to is 90’s music. Anything with drums and I’m sold.

Food at home would be Italian; My sister has lived in Bologna since I was a small child so I have grown up on delicious pastas etc.. If I were eating out my choice would be seafood of any description but particularly oysters.

Companion of choice if stranded on a desert island:

This would be Jim Morrison of The Doors ....no question.

Wishes or ambitions for the future?

My ambition would be for the Doncaster Book Award to keep on growing and for it to secure sponsorship to enable more children to benefit from our events.

My wish would be that school libraries were made a statutory requirement and that the librarians who run them with such passion be recognised as crucial in teaching children research skills and making them information literate, as well as promoting reading to them as a skill for life.