First ever Festival of Libraries comes to Manchester for five days of arts, culture and books

A Festival of Libraries is coming to Greater Manchester for the first time this June to celebrate the region’s 133 libraries.

Manchester UNESCO City of Literature has organised a five-day programme of arts, culture, information and technology to demonstrate the range of services libraries offer, supported by Arts Council England.

The Festival will include digital art commissions, performances, panel talks and walking tours, alongside activites such as chair yoga and open mic nights.

They are also offering writer and artist residencies in partnership with some of Manchester’s libraries; applications for two virtual writer residencies are open until 10 May.

Libraries have proven a lifeline during the pandemic, providing internet access, accurate information, and access to books and entertainment.

Over 180,000 e-books and audiobooks were loaned for free from Manchester libraries last year, alongside 120,000 books loaned through the Our Books to Go Housebound Service.

Luthfur Rahman OBE, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, said: “Libraries are creative, community hubs and 99% of Manchester’s residents live within 1.5 miles of a library.

“Libraries provided a vital lifeline for communities during lockdown and they will be vital to Manchester’s recovery from the pandemic by building resilient neighbourhoods.”

The Festival of Libraries will take place in Manchester’s internationally renowned heritage libraries, including Central Library, Chetham’s, and John Ryland’s.

Ivan Wadeson, Manchester City of Literature’s Executive Director, emphasised the Festival of Literature and its world-class libraries as a reason Manchester won the UNESCO title ‘City of Literature’ back in 2017.

Caroline Kelly, the Festival’s creative producer, said: “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.”

The Festival of Libraries will take place from Wednesday 9 June to Sunday 13 June 2021.

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