Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Sheffield eLibrary has Changed

Changes to the eLibrary

We have now moved our digital eBooks, aAudiobooks and eMagazines from RBdigital to the Libby app. You will continue to be able to browse, borrow, and enjoy all the same great material you loved in the RBdigital app, now available in Libby.

To use Libby, you will need your library card number and PIN. 

Request your PIN

If you currently have a book checked out in the RBdigital app, it will be available through the remainder of the lending period, so you can finish your title without disruption or risk of losing your place in the book. Holds will not be moved, but you may export your Transaction History from the RBdigital websites by accessing My Account > Profiles. You can place holds on those titles again in Libby.

Kindle eReaders and Kindle Fire

We are sorry, but library-loaned ebooks are not compatible with Kindle eReaders. This is because Amazon does not support public library eLending outside of the US.

At present, the Libby app is not available on Amazon Fire, but you can access the same great content through the Overdrive app.

We have an exciting range of comics available to read alongside eMagazines.  Comics include popular Marvel titles such as Spiderman, X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. 

Parents should note that some content is aimed at an adult audience.

Happy reading!

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Kids Are All Right: LGBTQ+ Books for Children and Young People

For decades, it has been a struggle to find positive, realistic fiction for children and young people that depicts the diverse range of identities in the LGBTQ+ community. Finally, though, we are starting to see more books being published in the UK, particularly for young adults.

In our LGBTQ Children's Book List PDFyou will find details of all the books discussed in our podcast with former Carnegie and Kate Greenaway judges Zoey Dixon (from Lambeth Libraries) and Liz Chapman (here at Sheffield Libraries). There are also a few bonus titles that we couldn’t squeeze into the podcast! This is still only a fraction of the books now available, so for more reading ideas, why not check out our LGBTQ+ Children’s & YA listchallenge? You can also get in touch with your local Sheffield or Lambeth librarian for suggestions, or contact our partner bookshop Gay’s the Word.

If you’ve enjoyed one of our recommendations, or want to let us know about something we’ve missed, join the conversation on Twitter! @SheffLibraries, @lamlibs and @gaystheword


In partnership with Lambeth Libraries and Gay’s the Word bookshop.

Please leave your comments (subject to moderation).

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Do you have a special or inherited recipe?

Do you have a special recipe?  If you do, we’d love to see it!

Help us explore Sheffield’s heritage through food.

In the run up to our digital dinner time experience Digesting History, we’re inviting you to help us uncover recipes that reveal the ever expanding story of Sheffield. We want to hear about the recipes that are important to you.  Perhaps they were passed on from a family member or friend.  Maybe they were taught to you at school, or you survived as a student by relying on them.

It could be breakfast, dinner, or tea, or maybe a sweet treat that sparks a memory and takes you back to a different time, or even a different you…
Share your recipes, stories and memories with us and we might even include them in a new recipe booklet, published by Sheffield Libraries this spring, and distributed across the city.

What do I need to do?

Post a picture of your recipe (handwritten is fine!) and a photo of the dish if you have one (but no pressure) to the Digesting History Facebook page.  Just click on Discussion and leave a post.

Alternatively, email us at

Tell us where/when/how you first encountered this recipe.  What is the story behind it? What memory does it ignite?

Deadline for submissions: 21 February 5pm

To get things started...

Here’s a set of recipes collected at Walkley Library back in the 1980s.  It’s full of dentist frightening puddings and some great local memories extending back to the 1920s.

Happy sharing, cooking and eating everyone, we can’t wait to read them all and try them out!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

£10k capital improvement proposals for community library spaces

Click to have your say 

Our Sheffield City Council community hub libraries (as well as volunteer run libraries) have been awarded a one-off cash boost this year of £10,000 each.  This funding will give each library the opportunity to make changes to improve their offer to the local community.

Therefore, we wish to consult on how to spend the funding to ensure the library space can do more for the communities that use them.

Library staff have identified options for improving the library space and we are asking for your views on those options and for any other suggestions you may have.  As each library space is unique, there are different options put forward for each library. 

This survey does not include Central Library, the Home Library Service or Archives.  

Although the volunteer run libraries in Sheffield are eligible for a 10k grant to improve their library spaces too, this survey is restricted to Sheffield City Council run libraries.   Please contact the volunteer run library that you use if you want any further information.

Why we are consulting?

We currently have an opportunity to improve our community-based libraries and therefore by consulting we can ensure this is what our customers want.   

It will not be possible to undertake all the ideas suggested by staff and customers, so consultation will help prioritise improvements now and into the future.

Click to have your say 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Edward Carpenter: Activist and Philosopher

Edward Carpenter was a renowned, writer, activist and philosopher who became nationally and internationally recognised as a key socialist thinker of his age by his contemporaries. His works have been published in numerous editions and printed in multiple languages. More recently he has also been recognised for his key contribution in the progressive understanding of the homosexuality and sexual equality.  

As a philosopher he was particularly known for his publications Towards Democracy and Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure, in which he proposes that civilization is a form of disease that human societies pass through ( over 18 editions were published in his lifetime).  An early proponent of women’s rights, he argued for gender equality and Women’s emancipation (including the introduction of birth control) and supported the Suffrage movement.  Openly homosexual, he was an advocate of sexual freedoms for both men and women, and had an influence on both D. H. Lawrence (particularly his works ‘The Rainbow’ and ‘Women In Love’) and Sri Aurobindo, and inspired E. M. Forster's novel ‘Maurice’. At a time when being gay was illegal and Oscar Wilde was in prison, Edward Carpenter made a stand for equal rights, publishing books on gay liberation and living openly with his male partner. He was a champion of workers’ rights and the Labour movement, as well as an accomplished poet and produced musical works such as those found in Chants of Labour: A Song Book of the People. A noted vegetarian and anti-vivisectionist, he wrote extensively on the subject of animal rights, as well as advocating for a more ‘Simple way of life’ which recognized the benefits to physical and mental health of working with nature and escaping the bleak, smoky and unhealthy environs of the industrial cities.  

Despite his influence and forward thinking, Carpenter still has far less recognition than he deserves. Sheffield City Archives and the local Friends of Edward Carpenter group are both keen to increase awareness of this fascinating man and show the impact his progressive thinking and activism has had at both a local, national and international scale.


Carpenter was born at Brighton in 1844, into a middle-class naval family. After his education at Brighton College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (where he was a Fellow from 1868 to 1874) he took Orders. But he was already forming opinions similar to those of the advanced freethinkers of his day, and after emotional and intellectual struggles which made him ill, he decided, in 1873, that he could not conscientiously remain in the Church. He joined the staff of the Cambridge University Extension Movement and lectured in various subjects including astronomy and the history of music. As part of the University Extension Movement, which was formed by academics who wished to introduce higher education to deprived areas of England, he moved to Leeds where he hoped to lecture to the working classes, but found that his lectures were attended by middle class people, many of whom showed little active interest in the subjects he taught. Disillusioned, he moved to Chesterfield, but finding that town dull, he based himself in nearby Sheffield a year later in 1879. Here he finally came into contact with manual workers, and inspired by their work ethic and physicality, he began to write poetry, in which he acknowledged his sexual preferences were also for working men: #

"the grimy and oil-besmeared figure of a stoker" or "the thick-thighed hot coarse-fleshed young bricklayer with a strap around his waist”. 

Continuing to lecture, Carpenter’s approach and charm drew audiences from many walks of life, not just academia.  In Sheffield he embraced the Socialism of William Morris and John Ruskin. He found ready support in Sheffield’s working populous and became one of the founders of the Sheffield Socialist Society.  You can read more about his experience with the political group in his essay Sheffield and Socialism, which was first published in 1916 as part of Edward Carpenter's autobiography My Days and Dreams

As well as promoting workers’ rights the group launched a successful campaign to increase the relief paid by the Sheffield’s Poor Law Commissioners and protested high rents in the city by encouraging non-payment. Unfortunately, following their own policy led to them losing their building, and a decline set in as the group failed to respond to rising Trade Union militancy.

When Carpenter suffered from stress and reoccurring ill-health, he joined a working man's family at Bradway. It was during this time that he began work on one of his most famous publications Towards Democracy, a long poem expressing Carpenter's ideas about 'spiritual democracy' and how he believed humanity could move towards a freer and more just society. Towards Democracy was heavily influenced by the poetry of Walt Whitman, as well as the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.  In 1891 he Travelled to India and Cylon to experience other cultures and further explore the philosophies that so influenced him.

After his father’s death and subsequent inheritance Carpenter finally gave up lecturing and joined his friends in running an orchard and market garden at Millthorpe, near Dronfield. He took a fair share of the work and devoted his spare time to writing, until he became well enough known to give up gardening and make a living by writing. He lived openly at Millthorpe with his partner George Merrlli, a Sheffield labourer, 22 years his junior, who stayed with him for the rest of his life. It was here that he wrote his key works on sexual identity and equality with the essay ‘Homogenic Love and its place in a free society’, which was later published as a book entitled The Intermediate Sex: A Study Some Transitional Types of Men and Women, in 1903. The work was in many ways ground-breaking, Carpenter argued that homosexuality was an expression of temperament, and not a morbid disease, to be punished or hidden. Published at a time shortly after Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment and the resulting public hysteria, Carpenter produced an essay that presented his beliefs in a reasonable and intelligent manner. Obviously, his arguments remained shocking to some and there were even attempts to ban the book from the British Library. However, the work was unique and progressive and deserves to be recognised for its bravery. The Gay Times recently described The Intermediate Sex as the foundation stone of gay liberation, and it is no wonder that through Carpenter attempts to ventilate the subject of homosexuality, both through the printed word and his own lifestyle, that he is now being championed as ‘The Godfather of Homosexual Equality’.

Carpenter moved to Guildford in 1927 and died there in 1929.

To sum up Carpenter’s philosophy is not easy; for he never set out to be a "man with a message," but sought for and found an opportunity to suit his own tastes ; but in trying to express his own individuality he voiced the needs of many others in society. He wanted for others what he found for himself. He looked to Socialism to release the labouring classes from overwork, grinding poverty, and ugliness of environment; he urged upon the middle and upper classes (especially their women) a wider and freer education, and a more intelligent treatment of the emotional problems involved in friendship and marriage. He sought to lead no party; he looked upon himself primarily as a writer, putting before his readers, in simple and graceful prose, a new and progressive viewpoint.

So, as we can see, Carpenter was a man of many talents, fervent enthusiasms, and attractive personality. He had a singular capacity for making and keeping friends, making a deep impression on everyone he met. Many of his ideas have become so much a part of modern thought that they now seem almost commonplace, and even his books are only pale reflections of the vivid spirit for which he was known and loved. It is fortunate that his library has been preserved with sufficient approach to completeness to give some idea of the extent of his interests and the interrelations between his ideas and those of contemporaries. The contents of the Carpenter Collection, which was donated to Sheffield City Archives in 1933, falls into two classes. The first contains over 1,000 books and pamphlets from his own personal library (as well as the famous sandals, for which he developed a fondness for whilst travelling in India, which he then started to produce for mail order customers). The second consists of many editions and translations of Carpenter's own works, copies of almost every periodical to which he contributed, and 2,280 papers, including the manuscripts of nearly all his books, letters from friends and publishers, and hand-written notebooks. Correspondence included letters from Sigfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Marie Stopes, William Morris, Mahtma Ghandi and John Ruskin.

The Contents and extent of the Carpenter Collection held by Sheffield City Archives can be seen by viewing their online catalogue . If you are interested in finding out more about the life and works of Edward Carpenter, the biography Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love by Sheila Rowbotham is available from Sheffield Library Service.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Calling all Kids! Join the Winter Mini Reading Challenge

If you enjoyed taking part in this year’s Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge why not join the Everyone Is A Hero Winter Mini Challenge
The challenge will start on Tuesday 1st December and last until Friday 15th January. 
All children have to do is read three books of their choice and then rate and review them at  

Books added to the website during the six week Mini Challenge period will unlock special rewards including a certificate and virtual badge.  

The website will also feature activities, recommendations for great winter reads and competitions.  Find out more by visiting the Winter Mini Challenge website 

Remember, all our libraries are open for an Order and Collect service.  

You can also download free eBooks, eMagazines and eComics from our eLibrary.  

If you're not yet a member of the library, join online today.  It's free.


Friday, November 27, 2020

The Can in Can't - Poems by Sheffield Children in Care Council

On November 12th, 2020 a celebration took place to launch a quite incredible anthology of work created by young people from The Sheffield Children in Care Council, 'The Can in Can't'. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, as children and guests read poems from this very special book which was the result of a collaboration between organisations and, of course, the talents of these young people.

Some of these poems are now proudly displayed in shop windows along Pinstone Street and you can also listen to the young people read their poems, with thanks to Vicky Morris on the Hive South Yorkshire Podcast.

Scroll down to download and read a digital copy of this remarkable collection of poems. But first we welcome a few guests to introduce the book:

"It is with absolute pride that I would like to introduce ‘The Can in Can’t’. Who knew that when Sheffield Year of Reading offered to run a few writing workshops, that the project would end up running in such extraordinary circumstances. Undeterred by a global pandemic, our wonderful young people from Sheffield Children in Care Council and Care Leavers Union, worked virtually with Sheffield Year of Reading Writer in Residence, Nik Perring and spoken word artist Dom Heslop, to create this amazing anthology of writing. The poems and writings express in ways we can understand what it's like to be in another individuals' shoes, a glimpse of understanding and empathy that connects people and hearts is so needed and important in times like these. 

This partnership not only cements Sheffield Libraries as a corporate parent but also shows how important libraries can be in people’s lives. They not only offer a plethora of reading materials, but offer a space to escape and get lost, allowing creative thoughts to flow and demonstrating that with the help of Sheffield Year of Reading, Sheffield Libraries huge digital presence is just as important, spearheading the way forward for new ways of working!"

Carly Speechley

Director of Children & Families

"The poems and writings convey a depth of experience of what it's like to be in care, its the young people's view on their lives, open, proud and real. A great piece of art needed by us all at this time to remind us of our humanity."

Nick Partridge

Head of Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Service

"Honestly. jumping onto Zoom with those amazing and inspirational humans was the highlight of lockdown. Not only did we write some incredible pieces of work, I got to know some incredible people."

Nik Perring
Sheffield Libraries Writer in Residence

So the long and short of it is, if you only read one book in 2020, read this one! 

Click the picture to download The Can in Can't (PDF).

Please leave your comments (subject to moderation).