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Big names back libraries ahead of Worlds of Possibilities Festival

Actress/writer Jessica Hynes among speakers reading in to the cultural impact of public libraries in four-day bookworm bonanza

A series of big name speakers will be heading to London for a new festival that will spread the word about the importance of libraries.

Actress/writer Jessica Hynes, former Public Image Ltd bassist Jah Wobble and libraries minister John Glen MP are among the highlights of the Worlds of Possibilities Festival, which will be held from October 11-14 to coincide with National Libraries Week.

Libraries are an essential part of any civilised society because they involve the distribution of knowledge to everyone

Bookworms will be able to ponder the pressing questions surrounding libraries, whether it be measuring their cultural footprint or how they can capitalise on the opportunities of the digital age.

Events will take place across the capital as part of the festival, with libraries in Pimlico, Brent, Tower Hamlets and Merton all offering artistic activities, talks and appearances by cultural figures.

Dragon Detective Agency author Gareth P Jones will be kicking off the festivities with a schools event at Willesden Green Library in the afternoon of October 11, with an Audience with Elizabeth Kostova to follow at Peckham Library later that evening.

Jones issued a rallying call for communities to work together in order to save libraries from closure ahead of the festival ­– with the story ending for 288 branches between 2012 and 2016 leaving 3,850 left in the UK. He said: “How can we claim to be a civilised society if we don’t ensure that knowledge is accessible to all? We must preserve our libraries.

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“Libraries are an essential part of any civilised society because they involve the distribution of knowledge to everyone.

“Libraries are used by children more now than ever before. Children are the future. Therefore, libraries must be too.”

Libraries minister Glen will enter the fray on October 12 when he and Arts Council chair Nicholas Serota attend the festival at Pimlico Library.

London Libraries ambassador Wobble will crank up the noise on Friday October 13, with a full performance by his band The Invaders of the Heart at Whitechapel Idea Store before Hynes hosts an evening at Wimbledon Library to close the book on the four-day event.

Kate Pitman, Idea Store service development manager at Tower Hamlets Library, said: “We are really pleased to present all the stuff that libraries all-year-round that people don’t know about.

“We have Jah Wobble’s band playing at our library and I think that people have a lot of stereotypes about libraries – and the book borrowing is brilliant – but they are universal spaces for everyone.

“I don’t think there is a place like it that is open to everyone and is free.

“I think events like the World of Possibilities Festival allow us to reach a wide cross-section of people in a place where they feel a sense of belonging and it is not intimidating for them.”

Anthony Hopkins, the president of the Association of London Chief Librarians, added: “There are the national festivities going on with National Libraries Week and this is London’s opportunity to demonstrate what it has to offer to its residents.

“This is the first time we have been able to put this festival together and I am really pleased to see such a great range of artists who are also huge supporters and advocates of libraries.”

The Big Issue has been equally vocal about the importance of ensuring that libraries escape the axe, launching the literacy campaign #WhyBooksMatter in February this year.

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