20 November 2014

Author Hannah Lea

A tour throughout Hull Central Library © DC

Many people now overlook the humble public library and the potential each one holds for connecting with people. For those who do venture down to their local library, particularly younger people, they are using the space in a completely different way to how it was initially intended. The library is no longer just somewhere to read a book or do some research. It is a meeting place, a communal place, where young people can feel that they have a place of their own. 

Some people are concerned that the advancing digital age will wipe out the traditional library, where people would rather opt for the 100,000 answers generated by Google in less than a second than the one answer in a book. Books are still the foundation of libraries everywhere. For example, an interesting side fact, the bookshelves of New York Central library’s Rose Reading Room actually support the structure of the grand and impressive room. However, what is up for debate (and being explored by Networked Narrative) is what else we can build upon these foundations? What else can we do with our libraries? And how can we make sure they are an important part of our cultural future?

“[Libraries] will serve as a hospital for the soul and a theme park for the imagination long after the paper books have been cleared away.” Michael Agresta, Slate.

One main concern surrounding the future of ‘the library’ is how they can survive on-going funding cuts. This has sparked a debate amongst press and local communities, which shows just how important having (and keeping) a library is to people. So this is why it’s so important to find new ways of connecting people and engaging them in their local library spaces.

FACT is working in partnership with libraries in Burnley, Hull and Wigan to commission new digital art that will be based in each library involved with Networked Narrative. Throughout the project young people in libraries will be crucial to the creation and development of the art. Networked Narrative will highlight user-generated content within library spaces and show how we can begin to not only consume but also produce brilliant and engaging stories, sharing knowledge and experiences with our local communities. 

In the next few months, Networked Narrative aims to bridge the gap between the online and the real, exploring new, exciting and engaging uses for libraries, as places for art and places for creativity. Working with artists, Re-Dock and the young people in each library, the first part of the Networked Narrative project will create an online world merging participant’s local surroundings with fantasy, folklore and “Artifakes”.

So if you, or anyone you know are interested in taking part, and are living in the Burnley, Hull or Wigan areas get in touch or head down to your local library!