A roundup of Festival of Libraries 2021

13 June 2022 - News
In June 2021, the Manchester Festival of Libraries launched with an incredible response from libraries and the public alike! As we count down the days to our 2022 festival, let’s have a look at our previous highlights.

We hosted many ‘Inspired By’ talks last year from famous faces who love libraries, and that’s continued for 2022. We had some fascinating guests, such as Guy Garvey from the band Elbow, author Michael Rosen and Stuart Maconie. Listening to these talks were very inspiring, coming together to discuss their work and how libraries were impactful for them.

Alongside these guest speakers, we also hosted a variety of artist residency talks who discussed their art forms with us. We had a variety of local poets, such as Anjum Malik, Ella Otomewo and artist Meha Hindocha, also musicians such as James Holt! Allowing artists to talk about their passions was a beautiful experience, and we thank everyone who takes the time to speak to us. One of our artist residencies, Michelle Collier, loved working with the FoL so much she became part of our team for this year’s festival. Alongside this, we also had Meet the Librarian, which is full of insightful interviews with librarians across Greater Manchester.



Last year, we had a designated wellbeing aspect to our Festival. By creating, reading and taking time for ourselves, our mental health can drastically improve. We had a workshop for wellbeing writing, where advice was given on how to channel your emotions onto a page to help clear your mind and collect your thoughts. In a similar vein, aspiring writer Daniel Lamb took us through a 90-minute crash course on how to brainstorm ideas and write your own story. If writing stories isn’t your thing, we also had poetry sessions run by the Manchester Poetry Library and their guests to showcase the power of words and the healing power our creativity can bring. The wellbeing stream has continued into 2022 too, with more writing for wellbeing sessions and even yoga in the library.

When we think of literature, we can’t forget about its place within activism! We had a very exciting Black Lives Matter online discussion with Yusra Warsama, with readings and poetry performed by guest speakers. Through these performances, we shared our own experiences of injustice and how we want to better the world. The John Rylands Research Institute and Library proudly own the Manchester Guardian archive, and we had a look at the historic events that have been documented, alongside learning about the journalists behind the stories. Activism not only plays an important role in libraries and in literature, but also in Manchester itself.

As a family-orientated festival, we had a large number of events that suited people of all ages. We introduced Look for a Book in Wigan libraries, where twenty books by Mike Brownlow were hidden across the weekend. This was such a huge success, so we brought it back bigger and better this year. Alongside this, we also had virtual tours of Manchester’s heritage libraries which are still available to watch now. This year you can also join Joanthan Schofield on an in-person walking tour created especially for the Festival: The Best Anthology of Libraries in the UK.

Overall, last year was a roaring success. Participants told us they felt more engaged with libraries and more likely to return to them again. Catch the best bits of our 2022 festival, including events such as our ‘Inspired by’ discussions with Lemn Sissay and our Carrot to the Stars read-alongs where you can get your hands on a free copy of books and so much more.

Follow us on social media to stay updated about the upcoming festival – you definitely don’t want to miss it!