In other words… a new festival

Liverpool City Council is asking organisations, groups and schools across the city to join together and help curate a very special literary festival in the spring.

Friday May 17 will see the official public re-opening of Central Library, which has been undergoing intricate restoration for more than two years. To mark the completion of the work on the Grade II* listed building, the city will host In Other Words – a festival which will celebrate all things connected with the written and spoken word.

Taking place for just under a month, the event will launch on Tuesday 23 April to coincide with World Book Night and will run until Sunday 19 May.

Plans are underway to engage everyone in the city, old and young, with events being explored such as author readings, performances in unique venues, book swaps, debates and poetry competitions.

Liverpool City Council is inviting arts organisations, businesses, community groups and schools to get involved and support the event by devising and funding an activity which will take place as part of the festival. To get involved organisations need to fill out the In Other Words Event Form. This needs to be returned to Culture Liverpool by Monday 25 February and should outline what the event will entail and who it is aimed at.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Central Library is the final piece in the William Brown Street restoration jigsaw, and it’s hugely exciting to know that in a matter of months it will be open to the public once again.

“As this is such a historic and important city gem, we want there to be an event which highlights the city’s reputation for producing much-loved playwrights, storytellers, songwriters, poets and authors. We’re hoping that organisations from across the city will come forward with exciting ideas to showcase Liverpool’s creativity and encourage people to get involved in reading, writing and performing.

“We’ve already had some fantastic ideas which will really capture the imagination, in this city-wide celebration of literature. It will be a festival like no other – showcasing the tremendous talent which can be found in the city, and you never know, it may even give us the opportunity to unearth future writing stars who will be the next Willy Russell, Beryl Bainbridge or Paul McCartney.”

The city council is already working in partnership with Writing on the Wall festival, the Merseyside Literature Partnership and other literary groups on aspects of the event, including helping to attract local, national and international writers to take part. There will also be events in St George’s Hall, the Town Hall and the newly revamped Central Library, as well as focusing on bringing special storytelling events to St Johns Gardens.

In order to involve as many young people as possible, an education programme is also being developed which will see taster sessions, dedicated to the subject of the written and spoken word, take place in schools with teachers encouraged and supported to develop specific projects. For example, one topic could be John James Audubon’s Birds of America books – these are rare, historical volumes and Central Library is home to the complete set which will have a dedicated room in the new building.

The re-opening of Central Library coincides with this year’s Light Night – the city’s one-night arts and culture festival which sees venues across the city open from 4pm to late so visitors can make the most of the gems on their doorsteps. To mark the occasion, the refurbished building will stay open until midnight.

In Other Words has been part funded by Arts Council England.

Central Library work:
Work on the £50m Central Library scheme began in autumn of 2010 and work has included demolishing the 1950s Brown Library and the 1978 extension. There is now a new building behind the original listed historic façade which was damaged in World War II.

In the Picton Reading Room, the intricate domed ceiling has been painstakingly restored and all the timber bookcases repaired. Thousands of hours of work have also gone in to matching plaster and paint as close to the originals used when the dome was built in 1875.

Finishing touches are now being made to the main library which will be a showcase for books and the spectacular children’s library. External landscaping is also taking place which includes the new literary pavement – a 22 metre long, 4.5meter wide walkway which will have engraved on it titles from world books, cinema and music. In addition the Literary Liverpool wall is in place and can be seen at the back of the building.

The project will include a new home for the Liverpool Record Office which will house some of the city’s most historic treasures from the last 800 years – such as the original 1207 charter – in purpose built secure, climate controlled storage.
There will be state-of-the-art IT facilities which will allow young people to access and play music and games. There is wi-fi throughout the building and increased access to computers.

Other new additions include a new entrance to the main library, including front and rear access, a conservation studio for repairs to the city’s treasures, a rooftop terrace with dramatic views across the city and improved access and facilities including escalators, lifts, toilets, meeting rooms and café.