Vote for the hidden treasure of the working class

The Working Class Movement Library, which houses some of the ILP archives, has been shortlisted in the Arts Council-funded Museums at Night competition to win an artist to appear in an event at the library in May.

Museums at Night is an annual after-hours celebration when hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events. WCML banner

The Working Class Movement Library is in competition with Quay Arts on the Isle of Wight and the Guernsey Museum for the right to host internationally-acclaimed landscape and documentary photographer Simon Roberts.

Roberts spent a year crossing post-Soviet Russia for a series called Motherland and was official artist of the 2010 general election. The resulting photographs explored Britain’s shifting identity in a series called We English. He is currently working on a project to photograph all 68 seaside piers in the UK.

The library, in Salford, describes itself as: ‘A unique collection capturing the stories and struggles of ordinary people’s efforts to improve their world.’

From strikes and protests to tailors and the Spanish Civil War, it tells of 200 years of campaigning through books, pamphlets, leaflets and tape recordings, which date as far back as the mid-18th century and include the roots of British trade unions.

The library’s manager Lynette Cawthra says: “There are many stories in libraries. Usually they’re written down. We want Simon to help us celebrate the image.

“He will photograph modern dissenters, drawing inspiration from the stories of past campaigns archived in our library. We’ll use these, and the public’s photographic responses, to debate the power of pictures and writing to move and to persuade.

“We are a hidden treasure. Vote for us so more people hear about our amazing building and its stunning collection.”

You can click here to vote for the Working Class Movement Library. The venue with the most votes at 5pm on Monday 5th March will win.

“Whatever the outcome, this is a great bit of publicity for the library,” says Cawthra. “But getting £500 to put on an event using Simon’s skills to add images to the Library’s millions of words would be the icing on the cake. Please vote for us now.”

The nearby People’s History Museum in Manchester has been shortlisted in a separate section of the competition for another photographer, Martin Parr, described as one of the finest photographers in the country.

The museum, which celebrates 200 years of democracy and workers in the UK, is inviting voters to submit work of their own on the theme of ‘protest’. They want Parr to inspire young photographers living and working in Manchester.

Click here to vote for the People’s History Museum.

Museums at Night takes place this year from Friday May 18 till Sunday May 20. More details here.

Please click here to vote for the Working Class Movement Library.

For more about the Working Class Movement Library go here:

For more on Simon Roberts click here.

For the People’s History Museum go to: