South Gloucestershire Libraries
South Gloucestershire is a unitary local authority bordering Bristol and in close proximity to Bath with a population of 262,000. Our libraries are our main community and cultural resource and we have an established history of using them as centres for arts activities to take place in.
South Gloucestershire Libraries are committed to supporting the wellbeing of our residents. We were the lead authority for the Books on Prescription project which has been rolled out nationally. Our libraries are designated as Dementia Friendly. The Sporting Memories Project worked with people with dementia to share their sporting stories and this project has built on its success. Our exhibition, 'This is Me', about the lives of people with dementia, toured libraries as part of Discover 2013.
Through this project, we wanted to explore the future role for our libraries and how they can best serve both our rural and urban communities. We also wanted to know how we can engage more proactively with residents to support their creativity and share this with the wider community. The project offered us an important opportunity for artistic development to become more embedded within our communities and to support those with mental health needs and dementia.
Using our libraries as a space to host and deliver sessions, employing their resources as inspiration and stimulus, working with high quality artists specialised in engaging hard to reach communities in arts activity and sharing the output through library exhibitions, performances and events, we helped isolated residents to help others through the creation of high quality art works and performances and through the social networks that naturally developed as part of the project.
A member of staff at each library acted as a 'host' for each set of participatory sessions; their role ranged from welcoming, registering and supporting participants, assisting the artists and supporting the evaluation of the project.
We would like to thank the staff at Yate, Hanham, Staple Hill and Patchway libraries for all their support of the project and making it the success it was.