The ReaderBank research project: Drop-in sessions (Daily 19-26 Aug)

  • Sat 19 Aug 12:00 - 18:00
  • Albertinas 2
Attend in person
  • Albertinas 2
  • Free, drop-in
The ReaderBank research project: Drop-in sessions (Daily 19-26 Aug)

This is an opportunity to participate in a major new study of reading, the imagination, and their relationship to health. Over the coming years, the Book Festival will become a research hub in partnership with a team from Durham University, gathering data from readers to create the world’s biggest open-source databank – the ReaderBank. Drop in at any time to meet the research team, find out more about the project and contribute to the ReaderBank. Daily from 19-26th August.

Along with coming to see the ReaderBank team at Albertina’s, you can get involved by:

Please note: to take part in the ReaderBank pilot study this year you must be over 18, and you will be asked to provide an email address.  All other activities can be completed anonymously.


The Edinburgh International Book Festival is delighted to partner with Durham University’s Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH) on the ReaderBank. The project is an exciting opportunity for the Book Festival and our audiences to contribute to what will become the largest study of the experience of reading and the effect that it has on how we live - confirming the Festival as a site for exchange between audiences, writers, and researchers.

The ReaderBank is the name we’ve given to a body of data that we’ll be collecting over the coming years. Drawing on the expertise and methods developed by the Durham team, we’ll be inviting readers and writers to contribute to the ReaderBank by responding to questions about their reading experiences. At this stage the project is still in development and our researchers will be road-testing new methods which have been proposed by academics from a variety of different backgrounds. The aim is to include readers and writers in shaping the research.

The Book Festival team is working alongside Durham researchers from a wide range of fields including Literary Studies, Psychology, Philosophy, History, Sport and Exercise Science, Education and Sociology.  In 2023 the team at Durham were awarded the largest grant ever made by the Wellcome Trust for humanities and social science research, to create the new “Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities”.  The £9 million award will fund the platform, which in turn will develop the ReaderBank.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has a successful history of partnering with Durham on ground-breaking and multidisciplinary projects, and we are thrilled to continue our relationship. Once the ReaderBank is up and running, our ambition is to extend this to other literary festivals across the globe. In the end, the ReaderBank will become the world’s biggest research database on reading, with information gathered from all over the world.

The project is in its pilot phase this year and we’re looking for people to help us to try out different features. You can take part in the imagination quiz, offer your questions for the ReaderBank, and sign up for updates about the project as it develops.

You can also take part in the first ReaderBank pilot study: a short piece of research on reading and the imagination that we’ve designed based on past collaborations between the Book Festival and Durham.  Our researchers will be onsite at the Festival, trying out a range of ways in which information can best be gathered and exploring what people want to know. We’ll be developing the project in partnership with everyone who participates. You can join us in the ReaderBank@Albertina’s, 12-6pm every day from the 19th-26th August.

The aim for the ReaderBank will be to create an open-source database, available for researchers from any discipline to use for their own academic work. This pilot year will work towards that: if you take part in the pilot study, your responses will form the first entries in the ReaderBank. 

Over the next year we will be consulting with other researchers, collaborators and members of the public to shape the direction of the project. As a contributor to the ReaderBank, in future years it is envisaged that readers will eventually be able to review their own data, and learn about their imagination and reading habits as part of the project.

Categories: Education, Words/Reading, Writing/Publishing

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Feats of Imagination
Feats of Imagination

What’s the relationship between reading, imagination, and health? This question fuels The Edinburgh Readerbank: an ambitious new study from Durham University with whom the Book Festival have forged a major new long-term partnership. Hear from experts as they share perspectives on belief, perception, and the imagination. And then join us in participating in a potentially game-changing study…