Monday, July 4, 2022

10 ways to use your library this summer

As a Sheffield Libraries member, you have free access to a wealth of facilities to help you connect with culture, creativity, knowledge, and each other.  Becoming a member is FREE.

1.  Stock up on holiday reading 

In these uncertain times, let us help you escape into a good book, or make sense of the world through reading.  You can borrow up to 15 printed books and five eBooks, free of charge for a minimum of three weeks.  From the latest bestseller to all the old classics.  

Download the library app and search the catalogue.

2.  Keep the kids entertained during long car journeys

The hugely popular eLibrary was discovered by thousands of new members during the recent national lockdowns.  Enjoy access to thousands of free audiobooks, eBooks, eComics, and eMagazines, either on your desktop or through our Libby app.  

3.  Try our school holiday activities 

We’ve got lots going on to keep the kids entertained.  Sign them up for Gadgeteers, the Summer Reading challenge 2022, and check out our programme of family activities taking place across libraries.

4.  Research your family history

We subscribe to a range of online reference tools on your behalf, meaning you can access high quality content and save money.  Visit the Local Studies Library for help researching your family tree, and use Ancestry UK without subscription at all our libraries.  

5.  Check out a board game 

Pass those long summer evenings with friends by trying one of modern board games.  Board gaming is a fun way to sharpen your thinking, and spend quality time with your family and friends away from a screen. You can now borrow board games from Sheffield Central Library, just like a book.

6.  Explore Sheffield through time and space

Visit Storytrails at Sheffield Central Library on the 27th and 28th July to discover a range of exciting augmented and virtual reality experiences for all the family to enjoy. Explore untold stories through a virtual map made up of 3D models and audio recordings of local community members.

7.  Start a reading group with friends

Whether it’s drink in the garden, or 30 minutes grabbed in the staff canteen; try our free reading group sets service and share your love of reading with others.

8.  Experience foreign food without leaving home

Our libraries stock a massive range of cookbooks covering diverse world cuisine, as well as all the most popular celebrity chefs and bakers.  Let us help you spice up mealtimes.

9.  Discover Graphic Novels

We have an extensive collection of graphic novels at Central Library and online in the eLibrary,  from popular superheroes to powerful and thought-provoking works of art.  Much of the collection is aimed at adults, so if you’ve never tried a graphic novel before, why not give them a try.  You might be surprised.

10.  Take the first step in starting your business

We support entrepreneurs, inventors, and small businesses from that first spark of inspiration to launching and developing a business.  Visit our Business and intellectual Property Centre webpages and discover more…

Monday, March 28, 2022

No Fines, No Worries!

Library fines have been scrapped!

Over at Sheffield Libraries, we’ve been helping local people connect with culture, learning, and each other since 1856.  Looking ahead, we know we have an important role to play in helping the city recover from the pandemic.  So, to pull down barriers and help as many Sheffielders as possible, we are delighted to announce that Sheffield Libraries is now fine free!

From now on we will not be charging anyone for returning their books late. We’ve never charged children, and the good news is, this now applies to all adults too.  Historic fees for late returns are also being removed, so if you have a book from before the pandemic, and were worried about paying old fines, just return it to a member of staff.   We’ll happily waive any fees that previously built up.

Of course, we still encourage you to return library materials on time or to renew them - other Sheffielders are waiting to use them, but we understand that sometimes life gets in the way. So from now on, you don’t need to worry about a daily fine. Just bring the books back as soon as you can.

No fines, no worries!

Reserving and renewing your books has never been easier

Back in February we launched the new Library App which is full of great user friendly features.  In the first few weeks, it was downloaded and used 6000 times by local people!

Please note the self service feature is not currently available, but we're working on this and will be activating it soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

New Year, New Queer

Liz Chapman (@lgbtlibrarian, Sheffield Libraries) and Zoey Dixon (@Zoey_Dixon, Lambeth Libraries) are back again with another bumper harvest of the best queer kidlit for your reading pleasure!

We have something for everyone, from picture books to Young Adult and from non-fiction to graphic novels. You can download a list of our 2022 reading recommendations here - featuring everything we covered in our LGBTQ+ History Month book chat, plus a few bonus titles that we couldn't squeeze in!

All the books are available to borrow (or very soon will be) from your local library. Be first in the queue and reserve your copy now via the Sheffield Libraries catalogue or Lambeth Libraries catalogue.

If you've enjoyed one of our recommendations, or have a favourite queer read that you'd like to share with us, please leave us a comment, or follow @SheffLibraries and @lamlibs and join the conversation on Twitter!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

LGBTQ+ History Month at Sheffield Libraries

LGBTQ+ History Month is celebrated in the UK in February each year, to celebrate the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ people. Once again we have an exciting programme of events lined up for you! Read on for more details.

Steel City Queer History film screening

Wednesday 9 February from 6.30pm, free
Delivered online through Zoom
Book through Eventbrite

Steel City Queer History have developed a podcast and walking tour film looking at Sheffield City Centre's hidden LGBTQ+ history. Join us on Zoom for a screening of the film which includes historic characters, lost venues, personal reminiscences, and a unicorn!

The film will be followed by a Q&A session with Suzie and Sandra from SCQH about the project.

New Queer Kidlit for the New Year

Premiering live online on Saturday 12 February at 11am, free
In partnership with Lambeth Libraries

Liz Chapman (Sheffield Libraries) and Zoey Dixon (Lambeth Libraries) are back with another bumper harvest of the best queer kidlit for your reading pleasure! We have something for everyone, from picture books to Young Adult, non-fiction to graphic novels. Join us for the premiere over on our Facebook page on Saturday 12 February at 11am, or catch up at your leisure on our YouTube channel afterwards.

Outrageous! The story of Section 28 with Paul Baker

Thursday 17 February from 7pm, free
Delivered online through Zoom
Book through Eventbrite

Hear author Paul Baker discuss his new book, Outrageous! The story of Section 28. This fascinating and important book tells the full story of Section 28: the background to the Act, how the press fanned the flames and what politicians said during debates, how protestors fought back, and its eventual legacy. 

LGBTQ+ Book Group

Wednesday 23 February from 6.30pm, free, 18 years +
Carpenter Room, Central Library
Book through Eventbrite

Join our queer librarians Liz and Suzie to share your favourite LGBTQ+ reads and find out about some of the new titles in our collections! Bring along a favourite book or poem to share with the group.

LGBTQ+ Listchallenges

We have not one but two listchallenges for you this year! Our New LGBTQ+ Writing Challenge for 2022 brings you the best new LGBTQ+ titles for all ages: children, teenagers and adults.
All the titles are available to borrow from Sheffield Libraries. Why not see how many you can read by the end of 2022?

As if that weren't enough, our Bi Books Challenge highlights a dazzling array of bi books from our collections. If purple is your preferred shade of prose, here's where to look.

All our previous listchallenges can be found here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Black Books for Kids and Teens

Are you looking for new reading recommendations by Black authors and illustrators? Did you miss our Black Books for Kids webinar? Fear not: you can now catch up with it at your leisure over on our YouTube channel! Join our own Liz Chapman chatting with Zoey Dixon from Lambeth Libraries as they discuss their favourite Black books for all ages, from board books for babies right up to Young Adult novels.
You can also find details of all the books discussed in this pdf document - plus, as a bonus, some new and forthcoming titles that we are especially looking forward to! For further recommendations, check out Lambeth's Black Writers listchallenge, or contact your local library for suggestions.

For information on our other Black History Month events, see here.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The story is in the story: Malcolm X’s visit to Sheffield in 1964

Désirée Reynolds has been the Writer in Residence at Sheffield City Archives for five months now and in that short time, she has uncovered some fascinating and hitherto unsung histories of Black Sheffield residents in the archives. Although her work has focused on hidden lives and marginalised voices, she has also revisited more widely known stories from living memory. One such account took her back to the 1960s, a time of rapidly changing culture, values and behaviours - particularly among young people. The University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union was, by this time, becoming more political, with protests against the Vietnam War and high-profile speakers such as Malcolm X drawing large audiences.

Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little, 1925 -1965) was an African American leader in the civil rights movement and a vocal advocate for Black empowerment during the 1950s and 1960s. Formerly a member of The Nation Of Islam, he left this organisation to forge his own path; the fight for civil rights would not have been the same without him. He was invited to speak at the Students’ Union in Sheffield on 4th December 1964 - one of only three places outside of London where he spoke. In his speech Malcolm X declared: “We are not fighting for civil rights; we are fighting for human rights. Freedom is a valuable thing. To get it I would use any means necessary, any time.” Afterwards, the Students’ Union gazette, Darts, wrote enthusiastically about his visit, describing in detail the hour-long speech, given to one of the largest audiences ever seen in the Union.

An original copy of Darts from 1964 - somewhat yellowing and brittle - still survives in the annals of Sheffield Local Studies Library - one of the few surviving accounts that recalls Malcolm X’s visit to Sheffield. This would have been the end of the story if Désirée hadn’t dug a little deeper: ‘there must be more.’ A trawl through the newspapers revealed a number of unsettling articles in the local press. ‘Row feared over Malcolm X visit’ warned The Star, ‘visit likely to cause racial troubles.’ In the Sheffield Telegraph the following day an inflammatory article claimed: ‘over 700 angry students hissed Malcolm X at Sheffield University last night’. The student body took exception to this, arguing the report grossly misrepresented what took place.

In Désirée’s words:

‘Malcolm X visits Sheffield Dec 1964. A headline predicts trouble, there wasn’t any. The Sheffield Telegraph make up a story that he was hissed at by 700 students. They didn’t. A petition is made against the paper’s misinformation. Even then.

The story is in the story…

They tried to draw him into a comment about, by this time, a dead Kennedy. Malcolm refused to be baited.

“I believe in the brotherhood of the human race and don’t care to know anybody who is not prepared to be my brother.”’

A mass protest in the form of a petition was hand delivered to the Star and Telegraph offices and a separate protest was made by the Secretary of the Union who wrote to the Telegraph expressing his dismay at the ‘violent distortion in the report, which he felt was especially ironic in view of Malcolm X’s opening remarks, in which he had stressed the danger of an irresponsible press’.

The Telegraph news editor, ‘though obviously disturbed’, declined to comment further.

Malcolm X visited Britain once more - in February 1965 - to speak in London and Smethwick. A few short weeks later, following his return to the U.S., he was assassinated.

This story is thought-provoking on many levels. It points to a prevailing racist culture in Britain; Malcolm X’s visits were met with hostility and lies from the press, underlining the national race row which challenged what it meant to be British in the post-war years. It reminds us, too, that when we look at historical records, we must ask: whose truth are we reading?

Désirée Reynolds and archivist Cheryl Bailey will be talking more about the hidden histories, silent voices and important discoveries they have found in Sheffield Archives at their Off The Shelf event:

Millennium Gallery, Thursday 21st October 2021, 12:30pm - 1:30pm



Darts, No.247, 10 Dec 1964 (Sheffield Local Studies Library)

The Star, 1 Dec 1964 (Sheffield Local Studies Library)

Sheffield Telegraph, 5 Dec 1964 (Sheffield Local Studies Library)

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Uncomfortable truths: Sheffield’s links to the transatlantic slave trade

Désirée Reynolds recently joined us at Sheffield City Archives as Writer in Residence. She is exploring our vast holdings of records in a quest to uncover Black and Brown voices and the hidden lives of other marginalised peoples - those living on the periphery of society. Désirée writes about identity, the notion of home and belonging, rootlessness and invisibility - all of which are becoming recurring themes as she leafs through page after page of faded handwriting in the archives.

This is not the first time she has looked to the archives for narratives. In 2019, she wrote Born on Sunday, Silent, a powerful short story (published in ‘The Book Of Sheffield’ by Comma Press) about the unmarked grave of an African child dating from the early 1900s. The story is told by a child spirit called Kai Akosua Mansah who wanders through Sheffield’s libraries and archives uncovering her own past, searching for lost truths. As she found, Sheffield’s own archives don’t always reveal the full tale - “looking for Sheffield’s past is not easy” says Désirée, “the things that get left out tell a story all of their own.” Moreover, as one reviewer noted, one of the uncomfortable truths the story highlights is “the city’s shameful collusion in a racist and imperial past”.

This is an important area that has come under scrutiny in recent months culminating in the Race Equality Commission which is examining the nature, extent, causes and impacts of racism and race inequality within the city. Among the many recommendations, academics have pinpointed the need for greater archival research into Sheffield’s involvement in the slave trade - the extent to which the city prospered from the trade in African slaves, an understanding of who was involved and the means by which they benefited directly or indirectly, and the amount of capital that was generated by slavery which fed into the close social networks in Sheffield.  Answers to these questions are harder to come by than in port-cities such as Liverpool or Bristol where the accrued economic benefits of slavery are well-known.

Only a few weeks ago, Désirée came across one of the most arresting documents we have found to date. Following our last project blog, local researcher Terry Howard got in touch mentioning that he’d come across a reference that might be of interest in the little-known ‘Ronksley Collection’ - an assembly of original archives and transcripts compiled by Mr J.G. Ronksley (1851-1916) of Sheffield.  Crucially, Mr Ronksley had meticulously transcribed thousands of pages of documents that were later auctioned off in the 19th century and have long-since disappeared. The transcripts survive in the archives.  Among these - a reference of great significance: 

An inventory of goods of Reginald Wilson (deceased) of Broomhead Hall, Sheffield, 1694, giving the value of black slaves. Alongside French pistols and pearl necklaces, the following names are given:

1 negro boy named Mingo £24

2 negro women £45

1 negro named Hector £25

1 negro woman £28

1 negro named Debby £25

“Sometimes when looking at this, as a Black creative we often have to ask ourselves, is this something that is useful?

Why do we always look at Black pain porn and not at the other stories?

Our history is not only slavery, but also the centuries before, why root it in this?

Why is it that these are the stories that get funded? Delivered? Written about? I get that. I get that it often feels that this is all anyone wants to engage with. I get that we are more than this. I agree.


I think about the silences. The structured absences.

I think about what it means for a writer like me to look at this. I know I may never find their real names but since these are the ones that I’ve found then this is what I have. 

I need to say to these people, with names that aren’t theirs,

‘I see you’.

Speak the unspeakable.

We must see archives as a source of reparative justice.

We were always here.”

The Wilson family were a prominent family who lived at Broomhead Hall in Bradfield - they had extensive business interests in plantations and slaves in Jamaica. Although Reginald Wilson died in 1692 (killed during an earthquake in Jamaica), the wealth accumulated from the slave trade passed down the generations. The will of John Wilson (dated 22 Jan 1762) in Sheffield Archives mentions ‘lands, tenements, plantations and hereditaments in the island of Jamaica in America’ formerly belonging to his great uncle, Reginald Wilson. And the executors of the will? Wilson’s relatives - John Trevers Younge of Sheffield, mercer and Thomas Staniforth of Liverpool, merchant (and slave trader).

Sheffield is often lauded as a centre for radical anti-slavery protest; while this is undoubtedly true, it is only part of the story. The less palatable truths are just below the surface, they’re buried in the archives, we just need to find them.

The Archives and Reparative Justice (Off The Shelf event)

Writer Désirée Reynolds and archivist Cheryl Bailey will be delivering an illustrated talk discussing Désirée's work as Writer In Residence at Sheffield Archives and the hidden voices that will inform her next book. The 'Take It To The Streets' project aims to bring the Black and marginalised voices out of the archive, provide some form of reparative justice and to bring to the public a Sheffield past that has not been looked at on this scale before.

Millennium Galleries, 12:30-13:30, Thursday 21 October 2021 (tickets available soon)