Coventry Library Service, supported by Arts Council England, The Space and Coventry City Council, has embarked upon an ambitious multi-strand digital culture programme which will bring communities, artists and other creative practitioners together throughout the city’s year of culture and beyond.
Digital Spaces aims to expand the city library’s digital and cultural offering providing an opportunity for people of different backgrounds, interests, experiences and ages to come together to explore the creative possibilities of technology, art and culture.
This Arts Council funded programme will comprise:
- High-quality creative Virtual Reality and immersive audio experiences, including award-winning BBC content, is available to library visitors for free at Central, Bell Green, Foleshill and Tile Hill libraries
- Get it Loud in Libraries Academy will invite a group of young people to participate in a 4-day intensive course of workshops and webinars in digital skills such as filmmaking, photography and social media
- Three community co-creation projects at Tile Hill, Foleshill and Bell Green libraries will give commissioned artist/s and communities access both to the wider digital cultural programme happening in the library venues and to audio-visual archive material relating to Coventry, drawn from project partners, the BFI and the BBC Archives.
Specially created VR and immersive audio content
A collection of VR titles designed to appeal to a wide range of library users is currently available at the 4 libraries, with further materials being added. The specially curated content – a first for UK libraries – includes award-winning BBC content, offering something for everyone: from exploring the Congo to flying a WW2 Lancaster Bomber during the Berlin Blitz. Users can go on a time travelling adventure with Doctor Who, experience a trip down the River Congo, or ride alongside one of India’s stuntwomen.
Alongside the VR, the BBC’s Research and Development team has carefully curated a selection of immersive audio experiences. It includes a selection of binaural audio dramas, slow radio and documentaries designed to immerses listeners in an expanded sonic field.
The community co-creation strand has been inspired by the Creative People and Places (CPP) programme philosophy that empowers communities to shape cultural provision. Here, library staff will work with community groups to develop digital creative projects. Those involved will work alongside commissioned artists and be inspired by live events happening in the library and by archive material.
What impact has Digital Spaces had?
The library service already plays a crucial role in regenerating the public realm and levelling up by providing easy access to new cultural experiences. Digital Spaces has allowed Coventry Libraries to continue to reach new and underrepresented audiences and cement the library role of creating a literate and empowered society.
Digital Spaces has enriched and empowered communities to shape their own cultural provision, creating a new digital legacy for the city. The VR programme is still open to the public, and library staff continue to work with local community groups to develop new digital creative projects.
The Digital Spaces project has been a catalyst for culture, creativity and innovation that has enriched the lives of local communities by inspiring people and creating a deeper sense of place, pride and identity in Coventry.