Once There Will Be

Imagining alternative models of storytelling and governance to help remote rural libraries flourish in future.

The challenge 

Libraries in remote rural areas across Italy are disappearing – along with schools, post offices and banks. In the sparsely populated mountainous region of Basilicata in southern Italy, most public libraries exist only because a group of dedicated volunteers are keeping them alive. 

Offering limited services, libraries become book deposits, rather than cultural spaces – meaning that residents in rural areas lose another vital service: access to knowledge for all in trusted and democratic safe spaces.

The initiative

The starting point of this initiative is stimulating the imagination and raising community awareness of the crucial role of libraries and professional librarians. They believe a functioning library needs a professional librarian. Their motto is: ‘no libraries without librarians’.

Their core idea was to develop a card game that would help to imagine a sustainable way for libraries to flourish in this region where around 70% of people have not read a book for pleasure in the past year. The storytelling game transforms the player(s) into the mayor of an imaginary remote village who faces some difficult decisions.

The challenge team also held a series of in-person events with public authorities and a webinar to explore alternative governance models. Their vision is that communities across rural parts of Europe will be able to use the game to raise awareness of the crucial role of libraries, adapt the alternative governance model to their areas, and defend the right to access public libraries.

What’s next?

The challenge team wants to promote the creation of a pan-European network of remote rural libraries to build and maintain relationships between people, associations, schools, municipalities and communities to help keep libraries alive.

They reflect: “We are determined to build on the momentum and find concrete solutions while continuing to develop our card game to help define these. We are confident that other rural areas of Europe will be able to benefit from our process and prototype.” 

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Municipality of Moliterno






Ilaria d’Auria: ilaria.dauria777@gmail.com 

Rosita Forastiere: rositaforastiere@gmail.com 

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