StoryTrails: an immersive storytelling experience set to visit 15 libraries across the country

The Reading Agency is pleased to announce it is working with StoryFutures and 5 other STEM organisations including the BFI and Nexus Studios to create StoryTrails, a unique immersive storytelling experience where untold stories from the past are brought to life through the magic of the 3D internet using augmented and virtual reality. The project is one of 10 commissions taking place as part of Unboxed, a UK-wide celebration of creativity taking place in 2022.

The project is led by Creative Producer David Olusoga and working with 15 libraries across the UK and Northern Ireland will reach members of the local communities gathering forgotten and unheard stories from local people and culminating in an immersive tour of each town as audiences explore these stories through virtual and augmented reality (AR) and a series of installations in the summer of 2022.

StoryTrails will be in the library spaces from early 2022, engaging the local communities in story workshops and then will return to each place in the summer offering two-day residencies in each location which will be free for the public to attend. Starting in July 2022, the tour will visit Omagh, Dundee, Dumfries, Blackpool, Bradford, Sheffield, Lincoln, Wolverhampton, Swansea, Newport, Bristol, Swindon and Slough, before ending the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Lewisham in September.

The project will support The Reading Agency’s ongoing mission to tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. By working in partnership with libraries across the UK and Northern Ireland, StoryTrails aims to get the UK engaged in the first immersive storytelling project of this kind! The project aims to support libraries through Covid recovery by increasing library visitor numbers, introducing new audiences into the library space, and celebrating their position within communities as centres of innovation and storytelling. The project will be recruiting the next generation of creative UK-based talent to help tell the stories of local communities. They will work closely with local people in each place to gather unknown, surprising and intriguing stories. Fifty creatives will be trained to use state-of-the-art immersive technologies to showcase and produce these stories in new and surprising ways. Led by StoryFutures Academy, the StoryTrails collective want to ensure that the UK’s creative industries are not only the best trained in the use of emerging and immersive technologies but that the future workforce properly represents the diversity of the UK. This project will aim to recruit those traditionally under-represented across the UK’s creative industries.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said:

‘We are so pleased to announce this project which, using new technologies, will spotlight the inspiring work of libraries as centres of innovation and their role in supporting the building of a diverse creative workforce in the UK. Working in partnership with the StoryFutures and the other fantastic STEM organisations, we hope that StoryTrails will provide both regular users and new visitors with an opportunity to engage with their libraries as crucial hubs for sharing stories and then hearing them back in new and exciting ways.’

Councillor Alison Teal, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities, Wellbeing and Parks and Leisure said:

“Sheffield Libraries and Archives have been telling stories, collecting histories and creating opportunities for community collaboration and personal development for over 150 years. Being part of this national festival that shares our aims is an opportunity to explore how we might interpret our collections through community collaboration and new technology. It will be positive, exciting and innovative for our city and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Professor David Olusoga, Executive Producer for StoryTrails, said:

“I am thrilled to be working with StoryFutures to help bring about change in the diversity of our creative industries. By enabling 50 diverse creative voices to create compelling stories that combine past, present and future through the magic of immersive technologies, we’ll be mapping a new path for creativity in this country. StoryTrails will set the public’s imagination alight with experiences that use the poetry of history to inspire a new vision of our future.”

Sue Williamson, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England said:

“We are thrilled that The Reading Agency is helping to put immersive technologies into libraries next year. Library users, visitors and passers-by will be able to use state-of-the-art equipment to explore unheard community stories in innovative ways.”

Visit for more information.

Information on recruitment of 50 diverse creatives – Apply – StoryTrails

The Reading Agency

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