The idea of Fun Palaces has been incubating among radical librarians for more than half a century, and now it's bursting open as a full-fledged movement. Every library in the Lambeth Borough of London will be a Fun Palace this Saturday, with a wide range of participatory activities ranging from zine and science workshops to participatory theater to kids' games from the amazing Code Club.
I've written about Fun Palaces before. Last year, a library in Australia adapted my D&D rules for toddlers into a superhero game. That same group has joined up with the Lambeth Libraries to expand the Fun Palace idea into its biggest-ever implementation.
You can participate in the Fun Palace fun with the Comics Maker, which lets you drag-and-drop to make your own strips.
THE FUN PALACES MANIFESTO
WE BELIEVE IN THE GENIUS IN EVERYONE, IN EVERYONE AN ARTIST AND EVERYONE A SCIENTIST, AND THAT CREATIVITY IN COMMUNITY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER.
WE BELIEVE WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER, LOCALLY, WITH RADICAL FUN – AND THAT ANYONE, ANYWHERE, CAN MAKE A FUN PALACE.
At Upper Norwood Library, there will be special board game and tabletop roleplay sessions from Andy Horton, librarian at Regent's University – and across the borough, you'll also find jewellery making, firefighters, art, science, dance, play, and all kinds of creative mayhem.
Stella Duffy, co-director of the national Fun Palaces event, will be leading a walking and writing tour of Lambeth, visiting each one of our library venues.
The Fun Palace vision – of participants not audiences, of locally made art and science and play – exemplifies the best work that I've seen in libraries, galleries, and museums over the past few years.
Fun Palaces remind us that libraries are about so much more than shelves and they make space for wild play as well as more structured activities.