Offering a beacon of hope to rural communities

Valdés municipality, Spain

Challenge team: Biblioteca Eduardo Pérez de la Fanosa de Busto and Asociación Busto de Valdés and AAVV Santiago de Castañedo

Population of Valdes municipality: 11,200

Summary: Illustrated Villages is a collaboration between community volunteers and a local library in Busto in rural northern Spain that aims to tackle isolation by preserving local cultural history.

The inspiration to develop the Illustrated Villages initiative came from a cultural hub developed around a newly created library in a disused school in Busto – a tiny village in Asturias, on the rural north coast of Spain, known for its lighthouse.

Initiated by a group of four women who had the idea when they received a bag of donated books, Biblioteca Eduardo Pérez de la Fanosa opened its doors to the public in July 2021. It is one of only a handful of private libraries for public use in Spain and now has more than 7,000 books and 400 members.

A collaboration between the library and volunteers from the community, the challenge team wants to deepen the community spirit unlocked by the library initiative by creating a safe space for social interaction and debate about public spaces, immaterial legacy and  social and natural environment. 

The challenge team is building a Popular Memory Archive that goes beyond the preservation of testimonies and evidence from the past and sets its sights on planning for the future – helping to take action against threats to the local area, including rural depopulation, loss of local services and isolation, particularly prevalent among the region’s ageing population. The aim is to revive pride in the past while also rebuilding hope for the future.

The challenge team said: “Taking part in the Europe Challenge is, for us, like opening a window and realising that the small light from our Busto lighthouse is now part of a Europe wide network of cultural lighthouses shining for communities across rough seas.”

Local solutions to change Europe

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