Storytelling school

High-tech storytelling is coming to Swansea Central Library and bringing history to life

Visitors to Swansea Central Library will be able to enjoy a remarkable look into the city’s past this week – with a new style of high-tech storytelling.

The city’s stories will be revitalized through a project that harnesses virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

The free-entry immersive experience known as StoryTrails is to be held at the Central Library this Wednesday and Thursday.

Staff from across the Swansea Council-run Library Service are involved in delivering the program locally.

Council Cabinet Member Cllr Elliott King said: “StoryTrails is the biggest immersive storytelling project ever in the UK. It’s great for Swansea to be one of 15 sites and it’s great for our library staff to get involved.

“This week’s event will allow locals to experience Swansea in a completely new way through the magic of AR and VR. They will use new technologies to travel back in time and discover captivating local stories.

“Our Swansea stories will come to life in the places where they happened, reviving public spaces and creating a free, entertaining and playful family experience.

“It will be two amazing days of fun for the locals and I know families in the area will enjoy the new experiences it will bring.”

StoryTrails is part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a groundbreaking UK-wide celebration of creativity in 2022 and is led by the National Center for Immersive Storytelling: StoryFutures Academy.

He will visit the Central Library, in the Civic Center, on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., when local creative talent will help pitch the stories.

Joe Cascarini, founder of Joe’s Ice Cream – featured in StoryTrails Swansea.

One Story focuses on the history of Joe’s Ice Cream, a company in Swansea which turns 100 this year. Visitors can come whenever they want during these time slots.

Digital storyteller Owen Richards has produced an interactive immersive map of Swansea. Filmmaker Jay Bedwani created an augmented reality story.

Archival material from the BFI, national and regional film archives as well as the BBC are used to bring the stories to life.

Outside the library, visitors will enter a virtual story portal, guided by a free mobile AR app and local artists. A photo ID will be required to borrow equipment for this purpose.

Inside the library, visitors will be immersed in a virtual map of the city which will be made up of 3D models and audio stories. They will also have the opportunity to explore other stories through bespoke virtual reality experiences.

King’s Dock, Swansea, in the past – an image from StoryTrails Swansea. Photo: People’s Collection Wales/ Swansea Library and Information Service

Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures and StoryTrails, said: “It’s about getting people to care about where they live – helping them connect with the stories of their cities. of past and present through a new lens.

“New technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality can help make those connections and rekindle people’s passion for the past.

“These technologies are for everyone – we want to find ways to engage people of all generations and spark true celebration at each of our incredible locations.”

StoryFutures Academy, the UK’s National Center for Immersive Storytelling, is at the forefront of training and upskilling creative media professionals in using the next generation of storytelling tools.

It is run by Royal Holloway, the University of London and the National Film and Television School (NFTS).

The StoryFutures Academy wants to ensure that the UK’s creative industries are not only best trained in the use of these game-changing technologies, but that the future workforce correctly represents the full diversity of UK talent.

For more details visit and via Facebook and Instagram @StoryTrailsProject and Twitter @StoryFuturesA and @StoryFutures


Photo at top – An image from StoryTrails Swansea – a 1910 fair on Swansea beach. Photo: People’s Collection Wales/ Swansea Library and Information Service