Unbroken Records: Creative Ageing and the Regional Digital Library

Unbroken Records: Creative Ageing and the Regional Digital Library

A/Prof Keri Glastonbury, Dr Alexandra Lewis, and Dr Caelli Brooker have been awarded funding to run a Creative Ageing life-writing program in partnership with the Newcastle Digital Library in September/October 2021.

Unbroken Records is a program of 6 workshops at the Newcastle Digital Library for seniors aged 75+ to creatively engage with new technologies, such as the Digital Story Wall map of Newcastle, in order to explore stories of self and place.

While the Digital Library branch opened in September 2020, the impact of COVID-19 has meant that general community engagement has been limited, with older library members particularly disadvantaged on a number of levels, including digital literacy. The Newcastle Digital Library showcases the library’s digital collection and new technologies such as a “Magic Box” (rare book digital display), Pepper the robot, a Digital Story Wall (incorporating a digital map of Newcastle and historical photographic archive), Podcast studio, Digital Reading Tables and a 3D printer.

The workshops will address an age group that has recently been particularly affected by social restrictions and isolation during COVID-19 and encourage (inter-generational) social connectivity, along with the self-discovery and improved quality of life that may come from engaging in creative activities.

Our project also aims to empower older participants as digital producers, and for them to make a direct contribution to the digital archives: a legacy for future generations.

In our academic research associated with this project we also aim to explore older participants’ experience of accessing memory through archive-based creative practices and to propose models that might be applicable to further research in terms of creative ageing.