CENL Event

6th September 2021


28 October 2021, webinar on book exhibitions and accessibility


BANG! – the CENL Books and Audiences Network Group – has organized its second webinar for researchers, collection keepers, curators, designers, educators and other professionals whose daily work is related to exhibitions and public engagement with documentary heritage, mainly various types of books.

In autumn 2021, when public institutions are still facing possible restrictions due to the Covid pandemic, it seems a good moment to take a fresh look at the potential and possibilities that exhibiting books presents to engage diverse audiences.

KEYNOTE 10:30-11:00 CET

The webinar will open by a keynote conversation between Dr Diana Walters the facilitator of the webinar, consultant and project manager in the fields of museology and cultural heritage – and Marleen Hartjes, representing the Van Abbemuseum, who has put accessibility and inclusion into the core of its mission and everyday operations.


The first part of the webinar will address different dimensions of accessibility drawing challenges and findings from recent exhibition case studies, research and policy documents.

A different way to think about book exhibitions, access and engagement

Susana Sanchez-Gonzalez, PhD Candidate in Museology at the University of Manchester ‘s Institute for Cultural Practices

This presentation will give an insight into the research of Susana Sanchez-Gonzalez. Susana’s research focuses on the role that people’s lived-experience of books and reading play during a visit to a book exhibition. As such, it is more concerned with issues of intellectual and emotional access to books on display rather than physical. Is there potential in this knowledge to transform traditional interpretation practice and to provide more meaningful encounters between people and books in exhibitions?

British Library Exhibitions: Guidelines for Accessibility in Design

Alex Kavanagh, British Library

Accessibility around exhibition

Vanessa Braekeveld, KBR

The two presentations on the physical accessibility of book exhibitions will explore latest design considerations both in the exhibition space and around it, including navigation in the building and in the information space.

From Page to Peak

Calum MacGillivray, National Library of Scotland

Throughout the pandemic, audiences and cultural institutions alike began to challenge, adapt and push the boundaries of exhibition experiences. Developing the exhibition Petticoats and Pinnacles: Scotland’s pioneering women through two lockdowns posed unique challenges but also afforded the time and space for creativity and to look at visitor experiences in new ways.

In this presentation, Calum MacGillivray, Exhibitions Officer at the National Library of Scotland will chart and explore the process that took Petticoats and Pinnacles from a ‘traditional’ Library exhibition to a testbed for innovation. Two key challenges of inclusive design will be explored:

creating a rejuvenating and inspiring experience through designing content and interpretation for visitors with diverse learning styles;
building an online offer bridging the digital and the physical.

One Thousand Books 2021—a post-pandemic art book festival

Lodret Vandret, independent publisher

The two curators and project managers behind the event will reflect on experiences and challenges in planning and executing a public art event in a post-covid reality. They will discuss issues such as accessibility, logistics, cross-institutional collaboration and, of course, the creative and conceptual ambitions of the festival.

Presentations will be followed by a facilitated discussion between contributors and the audience.

WORKSHOP 13:00-14:00 CET

Texture to screen and back again: Exploring the manuscript as material landscape

Armand De Filippo, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester

Xavi Aure Calvet, Centre for Fine Print Research, University of the West of England

The second part of the webinar will offer a participatory opportunity to explore and give feedback on an ongoing research project cetnred on the potential of digital technologies to evoke the textures and tactile qualities of manuscript materials.

Armand De Filippo: The textures and materialities of the pages of a manuscript are often concealed by conventional modes of display, which tend to present a manuscript as a static two-dimensional surface. Yet, if we can reveal the page of a manuscript as a physical environment, we might better enable audiences to ‘inhabit’ this landscape, experience it sensorially and imaginatively, and provide opportunities for alternative ways of knowing and meaning making. Advanced digital technologies provide us with the exciting potential of enabling more inclusive experiences of manuscripts through dynamic 3-D avatars and tactile pages which recuperate the objects’ textures and physicality.

The webinar is made possible thanks to funding from CENL. Participation is free of charge. The number of places available: 100. Participants will be registered on a first come, first served basis by 12:00 PM (CET) of October 26:  https://forms.gle/RotcrrK8zZpWWw6TA

The Books and Audiences Network Group (BANG!)

The network consists of libraries with permanent exhibitions dedicated to book publishing, including the National Library of Latvia, the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR), the National Library of Germany (Museum of Books and Writing), the British Library, the Royal Library of the Netherlands, the National Library of Estonia, the National Library of Scotland, the independent publisher Lodret Vandret (Denmark), the University of Leicester, the University of Manchester, the University of Cambridge, as well as a community of practice, including book artists, librarians, archivists and heritage professionals.

The task of the “Books and Audiences” network is to provide a platform to ensure regular exchanges of experiences within the book exhibition sector, to maintain interdisciplinary exchanges, and to explore and develop the capacity of book exhibitions to form long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with a diverse breath and range of audiences.

Contact information:

Inga Surgunte

National Library of Latvia

Permanent exhibition Books in Latvia

CENL network group Books and Audiences


+371 29953235