Welcome to The Festival of Libraries 2024

June Oxford Road Corridor

Manchester City of Literature’s Executive Director, Ivan Wadeson introduces us to this year’s Festival of Libraries.

Now in its fourth year, the Festival of Libraries will be full of imagination, ideas, connections and discussion with exhibitions, author talks, performances, installations, live music, workshops and international collaborations which are all largely free to take part in.

Opening the five-day festival at the top of Oxford Road will be a performance in Central Library by LYR on Wednesday 12 June. LYR is made up of British Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, singer-songwriter Richard Walters and multi-instrumentalist and producer Patrick Pearson and previous live performances include Green Man, Latitude and Blue Dot festivals. LYR have been commissioned to write and record a new song for the Festival of Libraries which will be released in early June ahead of its live première at Central Library.

Simon Armitage has a long association with the library: “I wrote some of my early poems “cramming in a carrel at Central Library” so it’s a real thrill to be performing there, giving something back to the institutions which were a gateway to personal enlightenment and a
place to get out of the rain.” Whether rain or sunshine in June, this looks to be an unmissable live event with rumours of a special Manchester guest joining the band too.

Later in the week Central Library also hosts The Embassy of Utopia, an exciting collaboration between Manchester and Tartu Cities of Literature in the year that Tartu is European Capital of Culture. Artists David Hartley (UK) and Henri Hütt (Estonia) will create a unique space in Central Library to host a forum for ideas that are too important to leave unspoken.

Individuals and community groups – whether they are poets, campaigners, academics, hobbyists, dancers or dreamers – are invited to speak about their vision for the future. What has Manchester collectively got to say? Come and find out in this utopian forum on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 June that shares positive visions of the future for these uncertain times.

International collaborations appear elsewhere on Oxford Road. At Manchester Poetry Library, award-winning poet and lecturer Helen Mort and scientists Dr Kathryn Adamson and Dr Iestyn Barr from Manchester Metropolitan University create an exhibition based on their research into environmental change in Narsaq, South Greenland. As well as the major human, wildlife, and economic impacts of the warming of the oceans and resulting sea level rise, the exhibition will also highlight writing by Greenlanders reflecting on their individual experiences of these dramatic changes.

Throughout the Festival at Central Library is Collectives for Change. This comic art exhibition showcases the work of 12 artists from Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. The exhibition shows how the Arab Revolutions of the past decade have paved the way for the rise of independent artists who have become the voice of the youth and are shaping the comic scene today. Comic artists from these exhibitions will be visiting Manchester during the festival to take part in workshops, talks and more.

As a UNESCO City of Literature, Manchester believes passionately in the value of libraries. The Festival reminds people of the breadth of what libraries offer and the incredible contribution they make to communities as places of learning and creativity.

Discover the full programme at manchestercityofliterature.com

by Ivan Wadeson,
Executive Director, Manchester City of Literature

Summer Edition

This article was originally published in the Summer Edition of the Oxford Road Corridor zine which is available to pick up for free around Manchester or download. Download
Festival of Libraries
Manchester Central Library | Until 16 June 2024

Festival of Libraries celebrates the role that Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries play in wellbeing, culture, creativity and more.

Manchester Central Library | 12 June 2024

Opening the Festival of Libraries will be a special performance from the band LYR featuring Manchester singer-songwriter Josephine Oniyama.

Landscapes of Change
Manchester Poetry Library | Until 31 August 2024

Landscapes of Change brings together poetry and science to explore the impact of the climate emergency