Essay: A Teenage Takeover of Libraries

A couple of years ago the arts director and producer Claire Doherty invited me to contribute to a new British Council essay collection, Where Strangers Meet: An international collection of essays on arts in the public realm. Specifically, Doherty asked me to write about A Place Free Of Judgement, my 2016 libraries live-streaming collaboration with Blast Theory.

The resulting essay, ‘A Teenage Takeover of Libraries’, is available here:

Read ‘A TEENAGE TAKEOVER OF LIBRARIES’ by Tony White (opens as PDF).

Claire Doherty really has done a great job with this collection. Where Strangers Meet includes contributions from Tania Bruguera, Nina Edge, Lynn Frogget, Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Dave Haslam, Paul Heritage, Shriya Malhotra, Omar Nagati, David Olusoga, Papa Omotayo, Jay Pather, Diba Salam, Jennifer Stein, Karolin Tampere, Kate Tyndall, and me.

Subject matter across the collection includes the making of Jeremy Deller’s We’re Here Because We’re Here, how music venues enrich city life, and decolonising public monuments and statuary, as well as public art in Cairo, Lagos and Rio de Janeiro, and much more.

Where Strangers Meet has been soft-launched with events in Bristol and Liverpool, and copies of a (very) limited edition box set of all the essays are available to read in public libraries in Liverpool. (I wish they were available more widely.) I understand that there is a plan to make the essays available as an online anthology. As soon as I hear that this is available I’ll post a link and share on social media.

In the meantime, I am making the PDF of my own essay available here.

ICYMI, here’s the blurb about A Place Free Of Judgement:

During 2016 Blast Theory and acclaimed author Tony White worked with young people in libraries in Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire, and Staffordshire to reimagine libraries, storytelling and their place in the world. On 29 October 2016, over the course of nine hours from 3pm to midnight, the young people took control of their local libraries, and performed live to a worldwide audience via an interactive live stream.

Blast Theory and I also collaborated on a book about the project that includes my exclusive YA novella ‘Zombies Ate My Library’, which follows the lives of four young people in the West Midlands—Alice, Gareth, Tommy and Rukhsana—as they plot a sleepover in a haunted library. What could possibly go wrong?

A Place Free Of Judgement by Blast Theory and Tony White, was developed with ASCEL West Midlands and Arts Connect. It was made in collaboration with young people and librarians in Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire, and Staffordshire and created in partnership with young people and librarians in Solihull, Shropshire, Dudley and the University of Worcester. The project was made with support from Arts Council England Lottery Funding, Arts Connect the Bridge organisation for the West Midlands and the University of Worcester.

Watch a video about the project here:


Read ‘A Teenage Takeover of Libraries’ by Tony White

Order Blast Theory and Tony White’s book A Place Free Of Judgement direct from the Blast Theory shop – includes White’s exclusive YA novella ZOMBIES ATE MY LIBRARY

Buy Tony’s latest novel The Fountain in the Forest in paperback from Book Hive

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