Hi-tech library project spawns book promoting ‘new ways to work with readers’

Feb 13, 2017 by

A Place Free of Judgement presents work with young readers in local libraries, and one worldwide broadcast, to encourage the next generation of borrowers

A project to reimagine libraries involving zombies, young people, a group of tech-savvy artists and a nine-hour interactive broadcast beamed around the world, has sparked a book that organisers hope will inspire library authorities.

The book, A Place Free of Judgement, is a collaboration between the performance art group Blast Theory and the writer Tony White, who put together a series of events under the same title in local libraries in Worcestershire and Staffordshire last year. Groups of young people were trained over six months in presentational, audiovisual and writing skills before taking control of their local library for a broadcast to a worldwide audience via an interactive live stream.

As well as telling the story of the night, the book features a novella specially written by White called Zombies Ate My Library, which was performed live during the broadcast. It also includes contributions from viewers, who were asked to explain what their local library meant to them. The technology writer Bill Thompson wrote: “I look back now and realise that one of the reasons I believed in myself enough to apply for, and successfully get into, university – the only person in the sixth form of my comprehensive school to manage it – was because the library was my runway, and I’d built up enough momentum in my time there to become airborne.”

Natalie McVey, service leader for young people at Worcester county council, said she hoped the book would inspire other libraries to run similar projects and to challenge perceptions of the beleaguered service. “It was something completely different for us to do,” she said. “We are really interested in pushing boundaries to make sure that libraries remain relevant.” The three, three-hour shows were written, presented and filmed by the young people involved, running consecutively on 29 October 2016, ending at midnight. “It has had a tremendous impact on the young people who took part, boosting their confidence and creativity,” McVey said.

Source: Hi-tech library project spawns book promoting ‘new ways to work with readers’ | Books | The Guardian

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