Illustrated villages

Looking at the past to build a more sustainable future.

The challenge

The tiny village of Busto in Asturias, on the rural north coast of Spain, is known for its lighthouse. With no shops, limited public transport and closed public spaces in the villages, Busto’s ageing population is more isolated than ever, and youngsters are leaving the area at a rapid rate in search of better opportunities.

The initiative

The inspiration for this initiative came from a cultural hub developed around a newly created library in a disused school in Busto. 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 wanted to deepen the community spirit unlocked by the library initiative through 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. The aim is to revive pride in the past while also rebuilding hope for the future.

What’s next?

Involvement in the Europe Challenge was the first step in the journey for this challenge team. The support, guidance and visibility has in turn attracted increased interest for the initiative from local authorities and from cultural organisations. 

They have refurbished the school building where the library and project are based and have received a pledge of regular yearly funding. They hope to secure further funding to professionalise the team and create job opportunities in future.

Social media

Facebook: Biblioteca Eduardo Perez de la Fanosa

Instagram: bibliotecabusto


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