Beyond the Page (BTP) was a library-run collaboration initially began by Upper Hutt City Library, Hutt City Libraries, Wellington City Libraries as well as Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre. This children and youth literary festival’s aim was connecting with young people of all ages across the region by offering opportunities for engagement with the wider community. These included creating local spaces for innovation and encouraging exploration of the audiences own stories in order to embrace new ideas and challenges. The first festival was held during the two week school holiday period from 8 to 23 July 2017 and encompassed such events as Royal New Zealand Ballet story times, a regional wide scavenger hunt and Fifi Colston wearable art demonstrations.
BTP was established because it was felt that it was important for libraries to facilitate events that champion literacy amongst children and youth. Libraries represent a place where connections can be made and developed within the community as they provide access to information and ideas beyond what children and youth are generally exposed to. This event also created a unique opportunity for collaboration between three different councils and library systems, each with differing audiences and numbers of sites. This was a first for all involved and helped to create opportunities for learnings and professional development outside the usual scope of many of the teams’ established roles. This presentation will delve into the development and implementation of the festival, discuss what worked well and consider lessons learned. It will also examine why innovations and collaborations like BTP are important to libraries and their wider communities.