Word and photos by Dave Barry
Gone are the days when libraries were stuffy, deadly quiet places with stern staff who silenced transgressors.
Today, they are multimedia communal spaces where noisy activities are common.
For instance, Scarborough and Filey libraries were recently transformed into fun palaces for a day of arts, culture and sciences.
Artists, dancers, musicians, museums, colleges and other creative people collaborated on the theme of ‘everyone an artist, everyone a scientist’.
In Scarborough, Filey’s Ramshackle Shantymen heartily bellowed maritime songs in the reference section and Beach Hut Theatre took visitors on a fun-filled journey into the town’s past in the lending library.
“Our plucky Pierrots explored the People’s Palace, Gala Land and many other local landmarks with daft jokes, madcap songs, silly antics and donkeys”, said Beach Hut’s artistic director, Alison Watt.
Cap'n Ramshackle, aka Robert Hartley, did a solo spot at Filey library the same afternoon.
A library spokesperson said: “This is the sort of event that shows libraries are at the heart of our communities, bringing together people of all ages from all walks of life”.
It also involved artists, dancing, cardmaking, lego robot races, yoga, knitting, digital photography, zumba, a battle of the bands, hair and make-up demonstrations, face painting, coding and strictly ballroom.
Based on an idea by theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price, the first fun palaces took place in October 2014, when 138 venues, communities and groups created events.
About 40,000 people took part in person while tens of thousands more engaged online. By 2016, 292 fun palaces across the world were made by 4,800 people with 124,000 taking part.