Behind the scenes: all about book clubs
July 17, 2014

Hello again! Over the years a growing number of groups have been using the Living Paintings library to borrow books and use them at their meetings – from art appreciation groups, to blind associations, to community groups or groups of clients in a care home. It gave Living Paintings an idea that a new resource was needed to cater for these group borrowers.

The Touch to See Book Club resources are a new and innovative concept developed by Living Paintings as a result of extensive research among their library members and existing groups that use their service. These book clubs are aimed at creating social opportunities for isolated and often excluded blind and partially sighted people, by providing them with the Touch to See books from the Living Paintings free library.

Work was needed to assemble and update existing resources in such a way that they would be fresh and suitable for use in a group scenario. Liz, Production Manager at Living Paintings explains:

“Living Paintings has a vast collection of tactile images with audio guides from the Mona Lisa to Paddington Bear. This is a valuable resource that we want to share and make available to more blind and partially sighted people in the UK. We decided to tap into this back catalogue and came up with a plan to create fun and dynamic resources specially designed for group borrowers. I spent some time looking through the catalogue and coming up with ideas to create fun and innovative pairings of existing tactile images and gave them funky appealing titles such as, What’s Cooking? and Hunting by Night!”

As Liz said, sets of 2 or 3 raised images were selected with similar or maybe contrasting themes, everything from fashions, kings and heroines, to garden birds and the weather! Catchy titles intended to arouse curiosity were given to these collections and fresh enticing Introductions were written to enliven the subject matter, to stimulate group discussions and introduce the audio commentaries.

I was given the task of writing 2 Introductions about fabulous frocks and fashion accessories! When I received this commission I was delighted. I wrote a 1000 word ‘upbeat’ Introduction to each of the two collections: one about the “Fabulous Frocks” depicted in three diverse portraits spanning over 3 centuries, the other “Come Rain or Shine”, two enchanting Impressionist paintings featuring umbrellas and a parasol.

The cherry on top was that I was able to record these introductions myself in the Living Paintings well-equipped studio! I look forward to future challenging and rewarding assignments with Living Paintings.

Audio MP3

Group leaders are provided with everything they need in their Touch to See Book Club box including,

  • multiple copies of each tactile image
  • audio Introduction and descriptions of the tactile images
  • a colour image of the topics depicted on the tactile image
  • a set of Guidance Notes with ideas for discussion and other activities, such as appropriate music, poetry or simply reminiscing.

In my next blog I’ll tell you about my visit to the Touch to See Book Club in Newbury, West Berkshire.

If you would like to find out if there is a Touch to See Book Club in your area, or if you would like to set up a club, please get in touch –

Telephone: 01635 299 771

Click here to email the library


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