It’s something that’s been said before but something that perhaps needs repeating in order for us to continue to be innovative in a variety of ways – innovation extends beyond embracing or employing technology. I’ve been thinking a little about the winning Eureka ideas put forward by Harriet Hill-Payne involving using a part of the library as an exhibition space for items from the library’s rich and varied special collections. This got me thinking about the arts within libraries in general and as a big music fan I thought what about using the library as a space for performance? This could include drama as well as music. I’m aware that University of Manchester already has performance spaces around campus (as well as exhibition space, of course) but the idea of holding performances in the library could be seen as a way of bringing people into the library who may not otherwise be aware of what it offers them and increase its profile. Naturally the space used would need to be sound-proofed and/or not close to areas for silent study.
Get it Loud in Libraries is an initiative launched initially by Lancaster Library and now active in many libraries throughout the North West which showcases music in public libraries with the intention of involving and engaging young people. It’s been hugely successful and is intending to spread further afield in the near future with backing from the PRS and Arts Council.
Within academic libraries there’s the possibility of lunchtime classical musical recitals or evening events that could involve popular music by student bands or higher profile acts. These could even be linked with aspects of our collections. Having a performance space could enrich the Library artistically and culturally and would likely connect closely with many students. It could also be used for poetry readings and talks by authors which are more traditionally found in public libraries, though I can’t see any reason why not in academic libraries. There is an interesting and innovative programme of cultural/artistic activities going on in Harvard College Library that could be an avenue other academic libraries may also wish to explore . As a University with a strong artistic heritage showcasing some of examples this through a programme of events within the library could potentially be an exciting new development.