The Library has been awarded a grant of £28,000 through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grant programme to support a new initiative that will widen access to literature and inspire new and diverse audiences. 

The grant will widen participation in two ways and enable access to culture and literature for those that would otherwise lack the means to benefit from the Library’s extensive resources and community.

Running until June 2023, the Library will develop a pilot series of collaborative learning and participation events to engage wide-ranging audiences through new creative community partnerships. These will include: local London state schools, Pen to Print in Barking and Dagenham, a national area of deprivation; Arvon and the Grenfell Dedicated Service to support young people affected by the Grenfell tragedy; Ministry of Stories who work with disadvantaged young people, and; Write and Shine and The Outsider Project to engage outsider artists and marginalised adults. The pilot series will steer an inclusive approach to creative expression and interest in literature, drawing on the Library’s diverse collection and its rich history of writers. 

The grant will also widen access to the Library’s successful Public Events Programme through funding the livestreaming of literary events and British Sign Language interpretation. A small number of these hybrid events will be available free-of-charge, opening up the Library for all, from anywhere in the world. The Library’s innovative public programme offers the latest in literature, history and culture; from interviews with authors, panel talks, performances and book launches. 

This funding follows a £10,000 grant awarded by Arts Council England in 2020 to scope a learning and participation pilot programme at the Library. It marks the first steps towards planning projects of greater scale and scope, with a view to implementing a sustainable, vibrant programme that enables the Library to work with more partners and widen access further in the future. 

This bolstering of the public programme follows the success of last year's inaugural London Library LitFest celebrating its 180th anniversary. The LitFest engaged new international audiences, drew record figures and was recognised as one of 2020’s most prominent publishing events, awarded Highly Commended at the The BooksellersFutureBook awards. The Library’s Emerging Writers Programme will kick off its fourth iteration supporting early career writers in July 2022, having received almost 1,000 entries. 

As one of the world’s greatest literary institutions, the Library encourages the creation and sharing of knowledge and ideas through reading, writing and discussion, facilitating world-class storytelling and creativity. Each year, 66% of over 7000 members are responsible for over 700 books, 15,000 newspaper/magazine articles, 230 film/TV screenplays, 230 theatre scripts and over £9m worth of art commissioned sales (Nordicity report 2021). The new initiative will build on this, growing the community and securing support for more diverse creative writers.

Sue Williamson, MBE, Director Libraries for Arts Council England saidLibraries are trusted spaces where people come together to be inspired by reading, to share knowledge and enjoy cultural activities. They are places that should be enjoyed by everyone. The London Library’s new programme, funded through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grant programme, will ensure that more people from all backgrounds can be welcomed to explore its wide-ranging resources. I hope this opportunity will nurture a new generation of creatives, literature lovers, and writers.”

Philip Marshall, Director of The London Library said: “The London Library has been a centre for creativity and inspiration for over 180 years. We are excited to be able to widen access to the Library’s rich collection of literary resources and bring in previously under-represented audiences to the Library through this award from Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grant programme. As the home of writers, we have designed the programme to inspire a love of literature, creativity and a new generation of diverse writers, and we look forward to welcoming all the participants into our community.”

Claire Berliner, Head of Programmes at The London Library said: Both the public programme and the Emerging Writers Programme have gone from strength to strength since their inception a few years ago, bringing new audiences to the Library and widening our reach. We are so excited that this grant will enable us to expand on that work further by working with partners from across the community to reach more people, increase diversity and widen access to the resources we have to offer and inspire creativity and love of literature.” 


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