Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

One of the advantages of having 26 bedrooms down the hall is that people can really immerse themselves in what's going on at Gladstone's Library.

Pretty much all libraries will have a calendar of activities, from the independent and charity-funded institutions like ours, to public libraries. They will vary according to their users.

Our colleagues at Aura Wales, who run the public libraries in Flintshire, help host book launches and run regular programmes like Rhymetime and local reading groups.

Although it's a charity, Gladstone's Library parallels this with a different set of events (although we do have a resident reading group, too). In the next few months, we're hosting a conference about William Ewart Gladstone (the Gladstone Umbrella), a course about the Inklings (a group of writers that included J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis) and Latin in a Week, which does what it says on the tin.

The nice thing about holding a course here is that people can stay over. The course leaders are enthusiasts and experts who happily sit with their students at dinner to dive deeper into the idea of a Fellowship of writers or how to conjugate Latin verbs - or tackle lighter topics. Then the resident attendees can head off to their rooms or to the lounge. It's a bit like being at university, except in nicer digs without the looming deadlines and mountains of student debt - although, on the flipside, there aren't any dorm parties, either.

One of the best things about hosting the courses is seeing attendees get to know each other. Very quickly, over coffee and a shared interest, they become friends. That's at least partly because the courses don't just stop at the end of the taught sessions. Even if they don't stay over, day attendees get to enjoy chats over lunch and dinner.

As well as our in-house courses, like the ones listed above, people from outside the library come and set their own sessions up, hiring out rooms and booking up bedrooms. We often find ourselves encountering a conference room full of people getting stuck into a fine art class before they break off for tea and biscuits. There's nothing like a hot drink after a period of intense concentration...

To find out about our courses, visit You might find something that will inspire you!