Library Fest 2015: Stamping out the Shhh…

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I know what you’re thinking. Library and festival – not two words you would usually put together. For us students libraries are stressful places, dark, dusty, silent, and for some reason always cold. They’re where you go in your darkest hours, those leading up to an exam or a deadline, to write, cram, or simply panic. Festival on the other hand means fun, sunshine…possibly, daytime drinking, food and music. So a combination of the two? Dark, cold, stressful, day time drinking? Not exactly.

Library fest consists of a series of events intended to dispel these skewed perceptions of what libraries are all about. For many, trips to the library aren’t tense, or boring, or in fact at all unpleasant. There are those for whom libraries constitute a mine of entertainment, information, interaction, and dare I say it, fun, and you could be one of them. Over the next nine days, there’ll be opportunities to discover it all, relive your childhood, enjoy home-grown literary talent or even exhibit your own. We want to stamp out the shh, and show you what you’re missing out on.

Library fest consists of a series of events intended to dispel these skewed perceptions of what libraries are all about.

And there is so much. Much more than getting access to a book that’s perhaps unavailable from the University libraries – although that certainly could come in handy. Not only is Leeds Central Library a beautiful Victorian building, it houses an incredible collection of city records, fiction, non-fiction, and film, with dedicated drama, art, and music libraries. If you haven’t explored it yet, it’s definitely a Leeds must-do. But why not with a magical twist?

On Tuesday 17th February, Leeds Central Library is turning itself into Hogwarts, providing enchanted tours around the grand old building, complete with Quidditch, bewitched creatures come to life, and magical moving pictures. Sadly, nearly all this year’s letters have already flown, but look out for yours later on in the year. If you still fancy discovering a little magic at the Library, special tours of Central Library’s most precious muggle artefacts are taking place on Wednesday 18th, Friday 20th, and Saturday 21st.

Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

Ok, so it’s Valentine’s Day and you forgot the present. Fear not, library staff will be at the Belgrave Feast at Belgrave Music Hall, handing out personalised book recommendations – cue perfect gift, though I’m afraid the logistics of executing this subtly are down to you – amongst all the yumminess. A slap-up meal and a personal, thoughtful, oh-so-intelligent present, well done you. Perhaps even a good enough prezzie to make your better half sign up for more for free? Alternatively, it will allow you to spend the evening reading, much better than all that hyped-up commercial, lovey-dovey-ness.

Fancy something a little more cultural, artsy, and off-the-wall? Chapel Allerton Library are hosting a poetry open-mic night from 7pm on Wednesday 18th February. While these kinds of events do happen in the centre, this one would be a great chance to show off the work you’re perhaps a little more coy about in a community setting, and who knows, maybe you’ll find some crazy local talent who you can discuss it with at one of Leeds Libraries’ writing groups. Holt Park Library, 2-3pm on Monday 16th perhaps? Or even a Creative Writing Workshop with published writer Paul Magrs at Central Library on Sunday 22nd at 12.30, tickets are available for £4. If you’re not feeling flush enough for that, a 50p Library take-over pub quiz at The White Swan in town, with all the proceeds going to charity, may make you and your wallet feel all warm and fuzzy.

But Libraries aren’t just for the literary amongst you. Leeds Central Library has specific drama, art and music libraries, and on Sunday 22nd February the music library swings open its doors and gets all jazzed up for you. Here lies the live music portion of the earlier festival/library comparison, with the chance to explore the thousands of CDs, sheet music, journals and books that the music library has to offer, and what’s more, tell them what it is you’d like to hear from them, pop in with a question and rock the boat.

Really, these events are just the tip of the iceberg. Go to one, go to them all, just get yourself involved and help us stamp out the shhh.

For more information, go to http://www.leeds.gov.uk/leisure/Pages/libraryfest.aspx

Chess Carnell

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