Festival of Libraries 2022

As the long awaited sunshine finally beamed upon Manchester, team Sundae has been busy creating the buzz around the return of Manchester UNESCO City of Literature’s annual Festival of Libraries

Running for five days in June, the festival celebrates Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries and their librarians with a varied and vibrant programme; the perfect opportunity for me to explore some of the very best ones across the city!

Last year, Manchester changed the game by investing in its libraries as an essential resource. Festival of Libraries was born as an yearly commemoration of the promise, made by the city and the Art Council of England, to build that commitment and celebrate libraries as sanctuaries and culture hubs. 

Being an avid fan of all things cultural, I was spoiled for choice with over 90 live events, showcasing a vast selection of digital art commissions, exhibitions, dance, performance, panel talks and walking tours.  

Fronted by ambassador, author Lemn Sissay OBE himself, the festival captured the wise words of several crowd-favourite library-loving creatives. Actress and activist Julie Hesmondhalgh, modern restorer and TV presenter Jay Blades, historian Greg Jenner, broadcaster Mike Sweeney, poet Jackie Kay and artist Abigail Reynolds all spoke on the importance of libraries in today’s society as part of Inspired By Libraries. 

Growing up in a little town in my native Bulgaria, the small local library played a huge part in my formative years so now, more than ever, I understand the importance such institutions hold in raising inspired new generations. So the bustling halls of Manchester Central Library were the place to be on a busy Thursday afternoon. 

Meeting Lemn Sissay was nothing short of inspiring, as he laughed with the crowd and talked on why libraries need to be treasured by society, as mentioned in his BBC Radio Manchester interview, and his advice to the youngest of poets, wishing to follow in his footsteps:

“Above all things, try to be a good person,” he said, while children in the front rows listened with interest and awe. 

Indeed, the festival had something for everyone! Even though I might be a full-grown adult, my personal family-friendly highlight might just have been Look for a Book – a mass book hunt which saw Greater Manchester’s libraries planting 500 copies of Sir Lenny Henry’s new book, The Boy With Wings, for children all around the city’s 10 boroughs to find! 

The Festival touched on crucial matters like wellbeing with events like Shared Group Readings and Relax in the Library, showing that libraries can also be a place of peace. It also explored the diversity Manchester has to offer with the brilliant Migrant Voices Takeover, which saw fascinating performances by local community musicians from Olympias Music Foundation stir up a brilliant mixture of music, dance and conversation around migration. 

Manchester Central Library also took part of the Happy, Safe and Free art trail, which asked of local school kids to create an artwork on what makes them happy, safe and free, which was then folded into little boats or shredded into pieces and spread around the city in commemoration of the hardships refugees endure in the wake of World Refugee Week 2022. The festival also dedicated events to diversity, local communities, history, inclusivity, and more topics society can easily tackle with the help of libraries. 

During the press campaign we worked along with the amazing festival organisers to ensure the news was spread far and wide. Some national coverage highlights included The Bookseller and Time Out, while local outlets such as Creative Tourist, Manchester Wire, and About Manchester, together with BBC Radio Manchester, helped us give FoL the love it deserves, and we really cannot wait for next year!

 

Evelina x

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This week we’ve been excited to share @MCRCityofLit’s huge announcement of their inaugural Festival of Libraries, w… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

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