Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden

By Rhian Waller - Gladstone's Library PR and marketing

The aftermath of Alibis in the Archive

On the weekend just gone, we hosted Alibis in the Archive 2022, a crime writing literary festival. For three days, the Library was full of crime writers and crime writing fans who had gathered to talk all things murder and mystery.

Many stories were told and talks were held within the Reading Rooms, and many scones and glasses of wine were consumed outside the Reading Rooms. Guests mingled with the speakers, who included Lynne Truss (author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and the Constable Twitten series) and Nicola Upson, who writes the Josephine Tey series.

As well as the in-person attendees, we sold close to 280 tickets to people viewing the event on Zoom.

Nicola Upson signing at the Alibis in the Library event at Gladstones Library.

Nicola Upson signing at the Alibis in the Library event at Gladstone's Library.

Holding events within a 120-year-old building, and making them as accessible as possible, is quite a big job. Our Reading Rooms are usually quiet spaces, and we generally keep them accessible seven days a week, so shutting them down and re-opening them takes planning and a bit of muscle.

We have an in-house mixing desk and a mobile streaming deck that must both be wheeled back into a locked room, and the stage, banners, audio speakers, screens and chairs must all go back to their respective cupboards and storage spaces, together with about a kilometre of wiring (I may be exaggerating a little, there).

Margaret Murphy at Gladstones Library crime writing festival.

Margaret Murphy at Gladstone's Library crime writing festival.

The events at Gladstone's Library have, as one volunteer observed, grown up around the place. The Library was never really designed with performances and public talks in mind, but with a little ingenuity and technology, it's possible to cater for a reasonable-sized crowd.

The work does not end when the last attendee checks out. After most events, we edit and post the video so ticket holders can watch on-demand for up to two weeks. Then the talks go into our archive, where our Friends (financial supporters of the Library) can watch them at their leisure.

This, too, takes time. It's worthwhile, though, if the feedback is anything to go by. When Martin Edwards, who organises the programme, announced that Alibis in the Archive will be back at Gladstone's Library next June, there was enthusiastic applause.