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Lemon Knight: International Games Day at the British Library

It’s been an eventful weekend, and I’m five days out from running a day-long experimental project here in the UK – more on that further down the line – but I wanted to share some of the excitement from yesterday’s International Games Day at the British Library (BL) in central London.

Gary Green of Surrey Libraries invited me to join the team of volunteers who were running events under the leadership of BL Digital Curator Stella Wisdom.

Stella is co-founder of the BL’s Off the Map video game competition, and Off the Map winners Fancy Crab were there with their offbeat riff on Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories. The event was also tied in to this year’s 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, and Ludi Price was in full cosplay mode as Alice herself.

There were video games, board games, and some that were just a little off the wall, including the bizarre German box-stacking game Ordnungswissenschaft:

We were able to play this by repurposing the boxes from the infamous Comic Book Dice, which had also made a visit to the BL.

I got introduced to the German game by gaming aficionado Ross Fowkes. Ross also showed me a digital jousting game which used motion sensors and the music of Bach in multi-player battles.

Johann Sebastian Joust” was inspired by a party game played with lemons and spoons. One quick trip to the supermarket later and we had unleashed the Lemon Knights in the heart of the library.

Both the BL’s child-friendly daytime sessions and the later evening event were great successes, with lots of visitors trying their hand at games old and new. Stella and her team did an incredible job playing host to a wide range of people and offering some truly bizarre activities. (Libraries are sometimes cautious about wild play, so I was delighted that Stella gave us permission for a full-on lemon battle in the shadow of the venerable stacks).

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2016 Creative in Residence, State Library of Queensland

I’m happy to announce something that has been brewing for a while: in the new year, I’m off to Brisbane for a twelve month stint as Creative in Residence at the State Library of Queensland.

I’ll be working with the Library’s Signature Team to develop programming, partnerships, and community participation across Australia’s Sunshine State.

You can expect the usual blend of fun, play, challenge, and adventure, with a uniquely Queensland flavour.

The new role kicks off in January 2016. More news then!

Two men jumping in early 20th century Brisbane

‘Jumping for joy’ image (1918) from State Library of Queensland archives

Crisis and Consequence: On Libraries’ Response to the Christchurch Earthquakes

In 2010 and 2011, the city of Christchurch faced the most severe natural disasters in the history of New Zealand / Aotearoa. The librarians of “ChCh” responded to the crisis with flexibility, courage, and innovation.

I wrote about the Christchurch quakes and the response of Kiwi librarians for CILIP Update, the in-house journal of the UK librarians’ association, CILIP.

You can read a PDF copy of the article by clicking on the image below.

Crisis and Consequence by Matt Finch

You can also check out my previous Update article, “Pushing the limits: play, explore, experiment”, as a PDF download.

Comics, everywhere (where to find me for the next two weeks)

Just a quick update to tell you I’ll be speaking at two events this month.

This Sunday, 8th November, I’ll be presenting at the Thinking Through Drawing symposium in London, making 3D biographical comics with attendees in a session on “Play, Chance, and Comics”.

Then, on 12th November, I’ll be speaking at a day training course for London’s Youth Libraries Group, looking at frame-breaking ways to expand and challenge existing library services – from community festivals and librarians embedded in comics book stores through to digital comic making and the inevitable zombie battles.

You can read more about the Fun Palaces Comic Maker over at The Comics Grid:

Life after Dark Night: Auckland’s barroom librarians

Some projects make a big splash right away. With others, it’s something of a slow burn.

Just as the sun sets on this year’s Fun Palaces, I was pleased to see an old programme finally achieving its potential back in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Auckland Libraries have just launched Reading Between the Wines, a monthly book club which tours bars in the central suburbs of New Zealand’s biggest city. Librarians bring a selection of books to the bar for patrons to check out and discuss on the first Thursday of each month.

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Supplier Speed Dating with Welsh health libraries

I’m often rattling on about play in libraries at this site – from online games to live action roleplay – but this week I wanted to point out that a playful attitude to knowledge can apply at many levels of library service.

Wendy Foster is Knowledge Services Manager for Glangwili Library at West Wales General Hospital and chair of the All Wales Health Information & Libraries Extension Service (AWHILES).

Every year at the AWHILES conference, library suppliers attend as sponsors, exhibitors, and participants. It can be hard to give all of them sessions to talk with the delegates who attend from across Wales, so this year Wendy’s team of healthcare librarians hit on a novel approach: supplier speed dating.

In groups, the delegates toured the conference’s fourteen exhibitor stands, with six minutes to quiz each supplier before they moved on.

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The Rules of Supplier Speed Dating Read more

Fun Palaces Comic Maker at Electricomics

I’m presenting today at the University of Hertfordshire’s Electricomics Symposium, “The Comic Electric.”

I’ll be talking about digital comics projects including the Fun Palaces Comic Maker and a new version of Comic Book Dice from Manila’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, plus my game for The Lifted Brow, “A Tear in Flatland“.

You can read an annotated PDF based on my slides for the presentation here.

An example of a Fun Palaces comic

Fun Palaces Comic Maker goes to Electricomics – Wednesday 14 October

The Fun Palaces Comic Maker is up and running over at – you can see what people have made so far at

Ernesto Priego interviewed me about the project for the Comics Grid, and there was a great write-up from Kevin Hodgson over at his blog Dogtrax.

The Comic Maker is inspired by the Comic Book Dice activity I originally created for Manila’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD). The team at MCAD have created their own digital riff off Comic Book Dice which will be released soon.

I’ll be talking about both projects, plus my choose-your-own comics review A Tear in Flatland, at the Electricomics Symposium hosted by the University of Hertfordshire next Wednesday.

The music my notes created

Originally posted on Julia's Blog:

Yesterday I took part in a library crawl – a walk around all of Lambeth’s libraries as they were transformed for the day into Fun Palaces. I wasn’t alone – I walked with the author Stella Duffy, who is one quarter of the team behind the whole Fun Palaces extravaganza (over 140 places this weekend, in England Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and New York). Her notes about the walk (much more poetic than mine…..) are what inspired the title of this – my attempt to transform my notes into something that reflects the sights, sounds, colours, smalls and experiences packed into 8 hours.

Entrance to Carnegie Library Entrance to Carnegie Library

Our starting point was the beautiful Carnegie Library by Ruskin Park in Herne Hill. I arrived as people were just setting up, and could see already the Fun Palace theme being brought to life: Everyone’s an artist, Everyone’s a scientist –…

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Lambeth Libraries Fun Palaces 2015

So yesterday was a huge success for Lambeth Libraries and you can still take part for a few days yet via our online Comic Maker.

Fun Palaces will of course be delivering a full report, evaluation, and celebration in coming weeks but for now here’s my Fun Palaces 2015 on social media.


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