Using the free, online digital storytelling platform YARN, our project aim is to broaden access to archive collections and enable collaborations between libraries and their local communities. We will be working across a series of four impact partnerships with library and heritage groups on the Isle of Bute, in Scotland, and across regional libraries and communities based in York, Leeds and Wakefield in England.
The first strand of our project involves working with Wakefield Museums and Libraries and Wakefield Library and local history groups, including the Friends of Ossett Library and Ossett and Gawthorpe Community Archive, to draw on collections of existing materials such as Twixt Aire and Calder (http://www.twixtaireandcalder.org.uk) and We Will Remember Them (http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/residents/libraries-and-local-history/local-and-family-history/we-will-remember-them). We're also planning to reach out to the wider community through workshops in schools and heritage displays at events such as Ossett Gala, with the aim of encouraging residents to share stories about the place they live in. You can find out more about this strand of the project by clicking on the story link above or by visiting the 'Weaving Ossett's History page at https://yarncommunity.org/projects/3.
For the York strand of our project, we're collaborating with Explore York Libraries and Archives and the Blueberry Academy, which provides education and training to young adults with learning difficulties. Learners on the Academy's 'Citizenship' programme will be accessing local archives to find out about what life was like in York in the early 1900s, and will use Yarn to document their findings and share their own responses. We're particularly excited to be working with Storyteller Cath Heinemeyer, who has been working with the students to interpret historical documents and images.
With our project partner Leeds City Library, we are aiming to develop the potential for existing local history resources held in its archives, whilst inviting Leeds residents to add to and enrich the archive. The Library is particularly keen to engage members of the City's Chinese community, to learn about their relationship with Leeds and share their stories.
Through the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds, we were intrigued to hear about forthcoming theatre production 'From Shore to Shore' (https://www.wyp.org.uk/events/from-shore-to-shore/), which "draws on real life stories from Chinese people living in Leeds and West Yorkshire to create a powerful new drama of love and loss, struggle and survival, performed alongside great food and live music". Since then, we've had the pleasure of learning more about how the play was researched and devised, from writer Mary Cooper and her multi-lingual collaborator M.W. Sun. Taking 'From Shore to Shore' as inspiration, we hope to run digital storytelling workshops with a range of community groups.
'Exploring Past Futures' will be the theme for the Bute strand of our project. We'll be working with staff at Rothesay Library, Argyll and Bute Council Local Studies Department, local community partners and the island's residents to explore stories and adverts from the Library's local newspaper archive, which illustrate how the future was articulated and imagined in the past.