An exciting new programme of library activities, events and partnerships designed to celebrate the novel and promote the joy of reading, particularly to new and diverse audiences, is unveiled today as part of the BBC’s The Novels That Shaped Our World festival.
Led by Libraries Connected and funded by a £253,000 grant from Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme, with additional support from BBC Arts, the year-long multi-platform engagement collaboration marks 300 years since the birth of the English language novel.
Libraries Connected will work with BBC Arts and libraries to deliver a programme of innovative activities for all communities, from voracious readers to those who haven’t read a novel in years, with opportunities for everyone to try something new to read. Libraries will commission artists, creatives and local partners who specialise in working with vulnerable groups, including refugees, young people at risk of knife crime and adults with dementia. The programme will be supported by the BBC’s local radio stations and the festival will include:
- An extensive programme of arts and cultural events across the year led by public libraries as part of The Novels That Shaped Our World festival
- Digital resources for reading groups and libraries created by The Reading Agency and BBC Arts
- Digital training for library staff which will leave a legacy of digital resources, skills and new partnerships for libraries.
To kick off the festival, a BBC-assembled panel will discuss their list of 100 novels that have shaped their world in a live broadcast beamed into libraries across the UK from the British Library on Friday 8 November. The festival will close with a special celebration in National Libraries Week 2020 and will be followed by a national conference for libraries and stakeholders. The British Library, The Reading Agency, the Booksellers Association, CILIP and the Publishers’ Association are all partners in the project.
Mark Freeman, President, Libraries Connected:
‘This amazing campaign lies at the heart of libraries’ mission to deliver innovative and engaging reading experiences to communities who need it most. Yet again, we would like to thank the Arts Council for funding this work which will enable libraries, in partnership with BBC Arts and grass roots arts organisations, to introduce new audiences to the joys of reading.’
Sue Williamson, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England:
‘I’m delighted that the Arts Council is supporting this fantastic campaign to promote libraries and reading alongside many of our Libraries Taskforce partners. It is especially exciting to see how community groups, libraries and local BBC radio stations will work together to inspire people to discover the pleasure of reading through digital and interactive experiences. I’m really looking forward to seeing the campaign develop.’
Stephen James-Yeoman, Digital Commissioning Executive, BBC Arts:
‘Bringing communities together and getting people talking about the books that mean the most to them is what The Novels That Shaped Our World Festival is all about. It’s also a great way to get people who may not be talking about books to talk about books, and perhaps discover a new read that ends up shaping their world. The activities and events led by Libraries Connected and BBC Arts are designed to achieve just that, and I can’t wait for the reveal of the 100 novels chosen by our panel, and to get stuck into the debate it is sure to spark.’