Exeter Library opens its doors in the evening for ‘Library Lates’
Through its new Arts Council England funded initiative ‘Evolve,’ Devon-based charity Libraries Unlimited is hosting a series of specially curated, one-off late-night events, live and from Exeter Library. Local author and Exploring Exeter contributor went along to find out more.
Finally – finally! – I can tick dancing to reggae in the Quiet Area of the library off my bucket list. Actually, it was never on my bucket list, but I recommend it going onto yours. If you are looking for a whole evening of trying things entirely out of the box, head to the next Library Lates.
The catchline is “in a space you know, in a way you don’t,” and it couldn’t be more spot on. From the moment I walked between the rainbow-lit bookshelves, something lit up in me. The child in me. I’m at the library, after dark. Underneath shades of colour and between the shadows, the books seemed more alive than they had been in the daytime. Suddenly it was the perfect dose of exactly what I needed as an adult – a night out, but not the standard night out of the last decade, where you go to a few bars in the city. But something that mixes fun with comfort, and relaxation with curiosity. A night out at the library.
The theme for the first of these Library Lates was ‘Retelling Old Tales.’ My friend and I started our night in the Children’s Library, listening to tales from Artemis Storytelling. Settled down in our seats, with a glass of prosecco in our hand from the Oddfellows Library Bar, time seemed to disappear as we listened to decidedly adult stories from the legend of King Arthur. Katy Cawkwell, Lisa Schneidau and Ronny Conboy were captivating.
In between these sessions, there was live music from the intricate guitar playing and emotive vocals of Sadie Horler, and the (deep breath!) post-rock, traditional folk, spiritual soul music, psychedelic rock and lo-fi fusion of the Diamond Family Archive (those words really are an accurate description). People gathered to watch between the bookshelves, next to the popcorn machine, or from the balcony of the Quiet Area – where the multi-coloured lighting looked most beautiful. Also up here was the Silent Disco, where we listened to an eclectic mix of old, new and downright unusual tunes through neon headphones (blue, green or red depending on which music channel you chose). The tracks were carefully curated by DJ Norman Fonts (rev.), aka Jez Winship and the aptly named Colin the Librarian. We danced silently, laughing outwardly in our musical bubble for half an hour before heading downstairs again for some delicious food served by The Owl & The Pussycat.
Lost Librarian interactive books (created by artist team Lizzie Johnson and Kyle Hirani) could be found throughout the night on tables and hidden on the shelves. These smart mechanical story adventures use a combination of hands-on technology and clues hidden in the books: such an exciting way of fusing tech with tradition.
Other activities on offer were keyring making with the FabLab, design your own Dragon colouring booth, short film screenings up in the Rougement Room and board games in the foyer. There was also the hidden spaces tour, offering an exclusive look into the areas of the library that the public doesn’t usually have access to – have you heard of the Exeter Stack and the Cage? It’s where they keep the special collections!
The evening whizzed by before we could say “Alohomora” (ed: a spell in Harry Potter that opens doors). Exeter Library thank you for opening your doors for us that evening. We cannot wait for the next Library Late in April. If you are keen, be sure to follow their social media feed @ExeterLibrary or @librariesunlimited. This night was a sell-out – and for good reason.
#LibrariesEvolve #LibraryLates #acesupported
Tags: Devon, Exeter, exeter library, Katy Cawkwell, library lates, Lisa Schneidau, Ronny Conboy, silent disco, storytelling