What a start to Libraries Week
Libraries Week is off to a flying start with events across the country, a launch at Westminster and plenty of conversation on social media; all highlighting the ways in which libraries improve wellbeing. Between the 8th and 13th October libraries are showcasing how they bring communities together, combat loneliness, provide a space for reading and creativity, and support people with their mental health.
In two days the campaign has reached over 4 million people on social media with over 25,000 likes. Thousands of people have shared what librarians and libraries mean to them - with over 600 people so far responding to a question from BBC Radio 4 on Twitter, Which librarian or library help you to fall in love with reading?
The BBC have also shared a video of JK Rowling talking about the magic of libraries and an interview with Hilary Mantel talking about the links between reading and wellbeing. Facts to support Libraries Week back these links with research showing that library users have higher life satisfaction, happiness and sense of purpose in life compared to non-users; and reading for pleasure has been associated with a reduction in stress, the symptoms of depression and the risk of developing dementia in later life.
A Twitter chat with poet and library champion Joseph Coelho started the week, who has also wrote an article for The Reading Agency about how libraries have inspired him.
On Monday The Reading Agency also launched a new list of Mood-boosting books as part of a national promotion of crowd-sourced uplifting books, including novels, poetry and non-fiction titles.
Tuesday saw the Westminster launch of Libraries Week in the magnificent State Rooms of the Speaker’s House at the House of Commons. Sponsored by Nielsen Book, the event was hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries. Speakers include Libraries Minister Michael Ellis MP and Chair of the Libraries APPG Gill Furniss MP. The event ended with a joyful and uplifting performance from New Young Voices Collective, the resident choir at Stratford Circus Arts Centre.
Wednesday is World Mental Health Day and The Reading Agency will publish the annual impact evaluation of Reading Well, a Reading Agency and Libraries Connected programme that helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading.
On Thursday the winner of the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award will be announced. Three library services in Glasgow, Kirklees and Newcastle have been shortlisted. From helping people to get online and access essential digital services, to providing critical financial and legal advice, and bringing the joy of books to adults and children with diverse needs through multisensory storytelling, these three shortlisted projects showcase how libraries build successful partnerships and improve the wellbeing of communities across the country.
London Libraries will be hosting the second ‘Worlds of Possibilities - The London Libraries Festival’, on Saturday 13th October. All of London’s 325 public libraries are involved and will be delivering an expanded day of events and activities to cater for all ages and interests. Events organised include ‘library lates’, evenings where libraries will extend their normal opening hours, film screenings, music events including performances from local choirs, coding clubs and a wide range of wellbeing sessions.
Gigs will take place in Welsh libraries through a collaboration with Y Selar Magazine, BBC Wales and Arts Council Wales. On Friday afternoon Merthyr electronic artist Eadyth and Wrexham favourites Seazoo will perform in Llandudno Library and the following day Eadyth appear alongside I See Rivers in the iconic Swansea University Library Reading Room. Carmarthenshire Libraries will also be staging a gig with the formidable Estrons on Sunday afternoon.
Libraries Week concludes with special performances from community choirs to bring the joy of singing into libraries. Libraries getting involved include Southampton Central Library, who will host two choirs and a Ukulele band, a pop-up performance in Barbican Music Library in London from SHE Choir - a collectively-run women’s choir, Wallasey Central Library, Abbots Langley Library in Hertfordshire, Morpeth Library in Northumberland and Cheddar Library in Somerset, who are holding a mini folk music festival with fifteen acts in three hours.
You can get involved by joining in the #LibrariesWeek conversation and visiting your library this week.