Issue May 7, 2013

Culture: Live and learn

The Louisville Free Public Library presents second annual How-To Fest

It’s true that people love to learn. But it’s also true that in today’s world, we rarely carve time out of our busy schedules to do so. Based on this premise, the Louisville Free Public Library set out last year to make learning easy, fun, free and convenient — and so the How-To Festival was born. Once again, the library will offer five hours of hobby- and life-based instruction through partnerships with several local businesses and volunteers. It’s the library’s way of stepping into the new century and continuing its legacy of encouraging knowledge: Not only do they provide independent study materials, but now, once a year, they invite participants to learn what they’ve always wanted — together.

Louisville prides itself on its sense of community and support of small, local businesses. It also boasts an impressive network of libraries, which, over the years, have hosted events geared toward vast demographics: book signings, small concerts, anime conventions. The libraries in Louisville are community-oriented, and this year’s How-To Festival appeals to a broader demographic than ever. The crew has brought in artists and businesses from all over Louisville, ranging from the American Red Cross and Greenhaus to musicians Brigid Kaelin and Carly Johnson.

Last year, attendance peaked at more than 1,000. It was originally an experiment, says Paul Burns, the library’s creative director, “an experiment in high-intensity, community-based interactive learning.” Clearly, that experiment was successful, as the library received overwhelmingly positive feedback and repeated requests to offer it the following year.

Special care has been taken to further broaden the horizons of the event, and this year, several local artists will provide entertainment alongside instruction. There will be more than 50 sessions, including how to sing the national anthem, or how to write songs and then sing them — on key and in harmony. Then, with this knowledge, you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to perform magic tricks, such as lowering your energy usage and electric bill, or even learn how to afford college. If you’ve already been to college, you can learn how to go back, or get a pet and learn how to take care of it.

The How-To Festival has established the library as a community gathering-place, not only as a source of knowledge, but a place to share it. The festival is an opportunity for quick learning — music, gardening, cooking, raising chickens and biking cross-country can all be sampled in less than an hour. If you’re interested in less practical activities, such as juggling or acing crossword puzzles, you can learn those, too — just in time to go home and show off your new skills.

How-To Festival
Saturday, May 11
Louisville Free Public Library
301 York St. • lfpl.org
Free; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.