Reading Agency project to bring latest VR technology to 15 libraries

Reading Agency project to bring latest VR technology to 15 libraries

The latest augmented and virtual reality technology will be brought to 15 libraries across the country next summer, as part of a new project to help support libraries recover from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Reading Agency is partnering with StoryFutures and organisations such as the BFI and Nexus Studios to create an "immersive storytelling experience" which brings stories from the past to life. 

Called StoryTrails, the project is led by creative producer Professor David Olusoga and will include 15 libraries across the UK and Northern Ireland. It will involve speaking to members of the local communities gathering forgotten and unheard stories, before they are brought to life with the latest technology. 

StoryTrails will be in libraries from early 2022 and will return again in the summer, offering two-day residencies in each location which will be free for the public to attend. Starting in July 2022, the tour will visit Omagh, Dundee, Dumfries, Blackpool, Bradford, Sheffield, Lincoln, Wolverhampton, Swansea, Newport, Bristol, Swindon and Slough, before ending in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Lewisham in September.   

Olusoga said: “I am thrilled to be working with StoryFutures to help bring about change in the diversity of our creative industries. By enabling 50 diverse creative voices to create compelling stories that combine past, present and future through the magic of immersive technologies, we’ll be mapping a new path for creativity in this country. StoryTrails will set the public’s imagination alight with experiences that use the poetry of history to inspire a new vision of our future.” 

The project aims to support libraries through their Covid-19 recovery by increasing visitor numbers, introducing new audiences into the library space, and celebrating their position within communities as centres of innovation and storytelling. Fifty creatives will be trained to use state-of-the-art immersive technologies to showcase and produce these stories in new and surprising ways. This project will aim to recruit those traditionally underrepresented across the UK’s creative industries. 

Karen Napier, c.e.o. of the Reading Agency, said: "We are so pleased to announce this project which, using new technologies, will spotlight the inspiring work of libraries as centres of innovation and their role in supporting the building of a diverse creative workforce in the UK. Working in partnership with the StoryFutures and the other fantastic STEM organisations, we hope that StoryTrails will provide both regular users and new visitors with an opportunity to engage with their libraries as crucial hubs for sharing stories and then hearing them back in new and exciting ways."

Sue Williamson, director for libraries at Arts Council England, added: “We are thrilled that the Reading Agency is helping to put immersive technologies into libraries next year. Library users, visitors and passers-by will be able to use state-of-the-art equipment to explore unheard community stories in innovative ways.”