Like many ideas, this Ipswich Libraries project started with questions: How can the library bring the younger generation of Ipswich closer to the city’s history? How can we ignite an interest in local history building on what is being taught in schools?
The Public Programming team felt technology might provide the answer and, while looking at how we could rejuvenate the current Minecraft program, decided to investigate the possibility of rebuilding early Ipswich, or a particular significant aspect/event of it, in a Minecraft world.
The 1893 flood event was chosen to be the focus and then came the concept of highlighting Picture Ipswich by using images from this historical digital archive as sources for the reconstruction of 1890s buildings.
Team members worked with the library’s digital archivist to finalise a program that would provide an opportunity for the community, particularly the younger generation, to take part in rebuilding an historical Ipswich event. Driving the project is Phil Schneider, Public Program Delivery Officer, who facilitates sessions of Minecraft 1893 3 times a month, each session two hours long. The project is open to children and adults, but most of the participants are 8-15 years, and the project is booked out to the end of the year!
The library training room provides 8 computers and we encourage people to bring their own laptop to allow maximum community engagement. Each individual connects to a Minecraft world, working together using photos and other resources from the Picture Ipswich archive. Collaboration is ever present. The buildings, infrastructure and eventual flooding occur over several months, with a showcase of the project proposed for the end of the year. It is hoped Minecraft 1893 will bring the history and knowledge of Ipswich to the wider community, especially younger people. The project has so far been a successful, innovative and fun way to create this connection, as well as bring people together. In addition, the project has built greater awareness of the Picture Ipswich archive as well as ongoing development of digital literacy skills.
About the author:
Sue Cicolini is the Public Program Team Leader at Ipswich Libraries and, alongside her hardworking team members, is responsible for emergent technologies and accessibility programming.