How can you help community-led libraries develop, create, share and tour artistic projects?

The Detail

  • Project Libraries Live
  • Role Creative Producer and Graphic Designer
  • Sector Community / Arts and Culture
  • Skills Consultation / Design / Exhibition
  • Collaborators Gemma Ince, Infamous Arts / Geoff Broadway
  • Client Staffordshire County Council

Rich Franks and Gemma Ince collaborated with Staffordshire County Council (working with Tracie Meredith, Community Arts Officer) to design and create a new brand; ‘Libraries Live’, a high-quality book, and a toolkit for creatives who work with libraries and the community. We also helped to source creative partners; Infamous Arts and Geoff Broadway to co-create a touring exhibition and documentary film.

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Libraries Live Exhibition at Glascote Library, Tamworth. Photography Richard Franks

The Libraries Live Project was funded via Arts Council England and included three artists in residents working across three community managed libraries, in three different communities across three counties (Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire). The artists were Ruth Singer, Michaela McMillan and a performance for younger children by Staffordshire's New Vic Theatre.

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Libraries Live Exhibition entrance at Water Orton Library. Photography Richard Franks

The project delved into the changing landscape of the library from the traditional local authority run model to the community library managed by local people. Responding to the theme of ‘change’ we worked with communities to incorporate creative activities with artists into libraries that would add additional value. Creative activities were designed by mixed media artist Michaela McMillan, drama practitioner Becky Salt, and textile artist Ruth Singer.

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Top - details of Libraries Live exhibition. Bottom - drama performance by the New Vic Theatre

Book Design - A key element and challenge of the project was to design, create and curate a touring exhibition that could be set-up across three distinct library settings over a three month period. In order to achieve this we collaborated with project manager Tracie Meredith and Infamous Arts CIC. Infamous Arts made bespoke exhibition stands to showcase the artist’s work that would help inspire visitors and could be used as an exhibition in the 3 very different library spaces.

The Toolkit - This was produced in the form of a book that included examples of how creative projects can work in practice; do’s and don’ts, top tips, pull-outs and activities were included as a learning tool for other creatives to help them devise a project in a library.

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Libraries Live Book and Toolkit. Photography Richard Franks
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Libraries Live Book and Toolkit, pull-out section. Photography Richard Franks
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Libraries Live Book and Toolkit. Photography Richard Franks

Feel free to discuss your project with us so that we can share with you what could be possible and build an ambitious idea that goes beyond what you might have thought possible.