Manchester UNESCO City of Literature’s inaugural Festival of Libraries, a brand-new county-wide celebration of Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries, will take place from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th June, 2021.

The festival, which is supported by Arts Council England, will feature a vibrant programme that highlights the library network’s full offer, across wellbeing, culture and creativity, digital and information, and, of course, reading.

In a national climate where libraries are under increasing pressure, Manchester has bucked the trend by investing in this essential service, and the Festival of Libraries will celebrate this commitment with a showcase of digital art commissions, artist residencies, dance, performance, panel talks and walking tours, as part of the festival that will become an annual event in Greater Manchester’s cultural calendar.

Libraries have been proven a lifeline during the pandemic, to those in need of internet access, accurate information, human contact, personal and professional development and much more. In the last year there have been over 180,000 loans of Ebooks and Eaudiobooks via a free online initiative from Manchester libraries, in addition to the 120,000 books loaned from the libraries through the incredible Our Books to Go Housebound Service during the same period.

The Festival of Libraries programme will take place in internationally renowned institutions from Manchester’s rich tapestry of heritage libraries, including Central Library, with its impressive status as the busiest public library in the country, in addition to Chetham’s, The Portico, and John Ryland’s. Also featured will be Greater Manchester’s equally important and vital local libraries that deliver much needed support and services to their communities.

Ivan Wadeson, Executive Director at Manchester City of Literature said: “The Festival of Libraries was one of the elements of the successful bid to UNESCO that earned Manchester the coveted designation of ‘City of Literature’ in 2017. Manchester has a world class library offer and we are delighted to have the support of Arts Council England to showcase the many and varied libraries of the city and across Greater Manchester to residents and also globally through the UNESCO Creative Cities network which spans 246 countries across six continents.”

Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, said: “Libraries are creative, community hubs and 99% of Manchester’s residents live within 1.5 mile of a library. Libraries provided a vital lifeline for communities during lockdown with essential internet access and online support and services such as digital borrowing; and they will be vital to Manchester’s recovery from the pandemic to build resilient neighbourhoods. I am proud that Manchester has continued to invest in our libraries to provide vital free access to information, learning opportunities and reading for pleasure for all in Manchester.”

Caroline Kelly, Creative Producer of Festival of Libraries said “Manchester Festival of Libraries will shine a light on the wonderful range of services that our libraries offer, some of which you might not expect! From chair yoga sessions to murder mystery events, 3D printing services to open mic nights, business advice to searching for ancestors in the archives, libraries in Greater Manchester have so much to offer and we want everyone to know about it. This festival will be a real celebration, and we are looking forward to sharing the full festival programme in May.”

Library partners include: Archives+, Central Library, Chetham’s Library, John Rylands Library, Manchester Poetry Library, NHS Libraries, The Portico, Working Class Movement Library, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Greater Manchester libraries (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan).

More information HERE


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