Why libraries are about more than just books

The Building Libraries on Creativity scheme is launched at Ipswich County Library. Picture: SUFFOLK

The Building Libraries on Creativity scheme is launched at Ipswich County Library. Picture: SUFFOLK LIBRARIES - Credit: Archant

They are often seen as places with rows upon rows of novels, biographies, encyclopaedias and more.

But Suffolk’s libraries have now launched a new arts programme to encourage people to see them as more than simply a collection of books but also a place for fostering creativity.

The new programme has been named BLOC – Building Libraries on Creativity - and has different themes of arts and creativity, film and digital, literature, music and dance, and wellbeing and inclusion.

Suffolk Libraries worked with Bury St Edmunds-based Off the Press Collective and young people and to come up with themes they could identify with, while events have also taken place to encourage people to meet artists involved in the programme.

As part of the scheme’s first year, 10 Suffolk artists were invited to take over Ipswich County Library for a week to explore the role creativity plays as catalyst for nurturing confidence and wellbeing in young people.

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Libraries at their heart are community spaces and they can offer somewhere where everyone can access culture and the arts.

“We’re all incredibly excited to see the programme progressing well and I’m hoping that giving it a name and a brand that young people will identify with will help us to enthuse and engage even more people as the programme develops.”

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Suffolk Libraries arts programmes coordinator Melissa Matthews added: “We decided we wanted our first artist residency to explore the role of arts in the community and how being creative can be used as a catalyst for bringing communities together and to support wellbeing in young people.

“We were keen for the focus to represent the range of creative community activities which libraries now offer so our 10 artists are from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, from a digital sound artist through to writers and illustrators.”

As of April 2018 Suffolk Libraries has National Portfolio Status, which was awarded to Suffolk and five other library services by Arts Council England last year.

National Portfolio Status means the Arts Council considers an organisation is doing work of national significance and Suffolk Libraries was also awarded over £700,000 to carry out this work over four years.

For more information about the BLOC programme, visit www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/bloc