Summer 2017 Newsletter

posted 11 Aug 2017, 04:56 by Judith Pitchforth

Our latest newsletter is now available here and in print at the library. Read all about our planned celebrations for the 60th - diamond! - anniversary. Join us at lots of different events in our six weeks of exciting events. Also, there are details here about the Chilcren's Summer Reading Challenge - it's not too late to start now looking for clues in the Animal Agents programme!

Autumn/Winter Newsletter

posted 9 Dec 2016, 06:57 by Judith Pitchforth

Our latest newsletter is available for you here - please download. Articles on BCL's "home" - Oriel House, updates and thanks for donations received, interviews with volunteers, news and future events including a Bumper Book sale from 7th - 14th January.

Spring 2016 Newsletter

posted 12 Jun 2016, 11:07 by Judith Pitchforth


Broomhill Community Library

Spring 2016 edition
Broomhill Festival Events at Oriel House (Broomhill Community Library)

Wednesday 8th June 4-5pm


With children’s author Sara McDermott. 

We’re off to the magical world of Choclandia.  Sssh – can you keep a secret?

Tickets £5/£3

Friday 10th June 4-5.15pm

Voices from the Past

With Berlie Doherty

Discover how to use the library to create your own story and pictures.

For children 8+


Friday 10th June 7-9pm

A Sense of Sheffield

An evening of Sheffield Stories with ‘Sheffield Authors’. Join discussions about creating a sense of place. Test your own ideas for a Sheffield story.

Tickets £5/£3

Saturday 11th June


There’s a Monster in My Fridge

With author Caryl Hart.

Meet the monster who eats raspberry jelly.

Storytime and spooky crafts for

children aged 3-8 years.

Tickets £5/£3

Saturday 11th June 3-4pm

Green & Open Spaces in Broomhill

BBest Lecture 2016

With Simon Ogden & Jill Sinclair.

A talk on the Percy Cane Garden at Oriel House and the restoration of Weston Park.


Week 2 of the Festival continues with......

Thursday 16th June 4-5pm

Two Clouds and a Cough

With Clare Nasir

An anti-pollution story for kids. Clare launches her 4th weather book for kids at the Broomhill Festival.

Tickets £5/£3

Thursday 16th June 7-9pm

Air with Clare !

An interactive discussion with

BBC weather presenter Claire Nazir about the problems of air pollution.

She may have solutions….

Tickets £5/ £3

The Scarecrow Trail.....

Preparations are forging ahead for the annual Broomhill Festival in June. As well as fluttering pennants, there will be much to catch the eye this year. A trail of scarecrows are set to pop up in all sorts of unexpected places: on familiar buildings, in gardens, trees and window recesses.

Broomhill Community Library is running a competition to create a scarecrow trail around Broomhill. Local businesses, families, schools, adult and children’s groups have been invited to enter.

The theme is around children’s books/films, so look out for colourful literary characters: maybe a Pooh, a Peppa Pig, or a cheery Postman Pat. Or if you like to shiver a bit, maybe you’ll spot a Gruffalo, Spiderman, Daleks or the Witch from Julia Donaldson’s ‘Room on the Broom’.

There are even plans for a scarecrow wedding at Broomhill Library inspired by Julia Donaldson’s book of the same name.

This year will see a number of anniversaries of famous authors such as Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl, JRR Tolkien, and AA Milne.  Characters from their books could soon be lurking in the corners of Broomhill.

Kathy Harbord, Events Organiser at Broomhill Library told us ‘This the first Scarecrow Trail to take place in Broomhill.  It’s inspired by famous annual scarecrow festivals in Kettlewell in North Yorkshire and Wilmslow, Cheshire.

Who knows, it could become an annual event for Broomhill.  It’s all about getting out and about and celebrating your neighbourhood.’

Scarecrow Trail maps will be made available at Broomhill Library from 8th - 18th June

Broomhill Library’s Youngest Member

At just two days old, Aurora Hope Robinson-Self became Broomhill Library’s youngest member.  On Tuesday 8th March, baby Aurora was issued with her first library card (pictured). ‘It must be a record’, says her grandfather, BCL volunteer Edwin Self.  ‘Compared with Aurora, her mother Lizzie was quite ancient when she became a Library member, aged two.  Our daughter Lizzy had a children's library card and regularly visited the Library with her mother Sue.  Aurora is set to follow in her mother's footsteps’ smiled Edwin.

Lizzie has fond memories of the Children’s Library with its wonderful stock of children’s books.  Edwin enjoyed reading these to Lizzie.  Edwin also sang nursery rhymes to her in French (Edwin speaks fluent French).  To this day, books are available in the Children’s Library in French, German, Spanish - and more recently, Chinese. Perhaps this accounts for Lizzie’s love of languages. She now holds an MA degree in French and German.

Edwin has loved the French language ever since he took part, aged 13, in an exchange visit to Brittany.  He also spent many years working in a French Restaurant in front of St. James’ Palace in London which cemented his love of the language.

At that time he enjoyed teaching Sunday School at the famous All Souls Clubhouse on Cleveland Street W1.  There he met an unassuming Gladys Aylward who did the washing up.  She had returned from China to look after her parents.  She had been a Chamber Maid in London in the 1920’s with no qualifications but an unquenchable desire to serve as a missionary in China.  Unlike Ingrid Bergman who portrayed her in the film ‘The Inn of the Sixth Happiness’ Edwin describes Gladys as a very tiny lady.  Yet this same tiny lady, though wounded, led 100 children through the mountains to escape invading Japanese forces.

Inspired by people like Gladys Aylward, Edwin likes to be of service to others. It is one of the reasons he became a Library Volunteer. There are opportunities to help others in a community setting like the Library which Edwin finds worthwhile.  Last year he undertook special duties as Father Christmas at the Mothers and Toddlers Babytime Christmas Party.

The children chatted happily to him about what they would like for Christmas.  He did experience a few anxious moments after promising toddler Corah she would receive a Princess’s Castle for Christmas.  He couldn’t be sure that it would happen. Thankfully it did!

Like many Volunteers, Edwin loves books and has a long association with them.  He has manned book stalls in local churches for many years.  As well as Christian literature, history and biography, Edwin has an interest in children’s books. He has even tried his hand at writing children’s stories and picture books.  His story ‘The Little Black Bicycle’ was well received by those in the know.  ‘The Little Yellow Bicycle’ is a work in progress as is ‘The Little Pink Bicycle’.  Edwin will read them to Aurora in time.  There is a tradition of story-telling in Edwin’s family:  Edwin’s mother wrote a mouse saga whch she read to Edwin as a child.

Now the chain of reading and story-telling is set to carry on. Lizzie wrote a book of poems aged seven which she  can’t wait to read to Aurora.  As for the Library, a whole world of colourful stories await Aurora now that she has become a Library member.

Broomhill Community Library Developments: An Update

In September, BCL will celebrate its second anniversary as a co-delivered Library run by volunteers.  So far, so successful.  However many wonder what the future holds for BCL.

The Council’s Communities Office is currently carrying out a Review of how Volunteer Libraries might continue in the future.  The cash-strapped Council wants to keep the libraries open if ways can be found.  The Dawn Shaw Library Review will be completed later in the year.

In the meantime BCL Ltd. Director Aileen Wade has agreed to provide an update on possible future developments for Broomhill Community Library.  She revealed there may be a way through current funding difficulties which could benefit all sides.  It could end the Catch 22 situation of having to be independent before applying for funding.

A possible future for BCL is as an anchor tenant of ‘Oriel House’, the Victorian building which houses the Library.  The Localism Act of 2011 means that Oriel House could take responsibility for the Oriel House site as a community asset.  To this end, Oriel House is in the process of becoming an Unincorporated Association with its own Board and its own bank account, with a short term plan to adopt an organisational form that includes charitable status.  The good news is that this appears to open up possibilities that would enable applications for Heritage Lottery funding.  Early discussions around this are promising.  It may be possible to apply for up to £1,000,000 for Oriel House and £500,000 for the Oriel House Garden.

Said Aileen, ‘We hope to convert Oriel House - the Victorian building which houses the Library - into a Community Hub with a restored garden.  A feasibility study was commissioned and a copy of this is currently with the Council.  Copies are also found in the library.

On National Libraries Day, Aileen invited a party of interested Councillors to take a tour of Oriel House.  The potential of the unused attic and basement rooms was clear.

The idea would be to put Oriel House’s basement to community use.  Consultations on this have already begun.  According to this vision, the ground and first floor would continue to house the Library.  Meanwhile the attic floor would be let for commercial income - ideally to businesses whose activities were in sympathy with those of Oriel House’s other users.

BBEST, the Neighbourhood Planning Forum, has already adopted the Community Hub at Oriel House as a project.  Hopefully it will eventually become part of the Local Neighbourhood Plan which could attract further funding.  Pete Marsh - Chair of BBEST as well as being on the new Oriel House Board - is keen to get businesses on the new Board in order to broaden its community base.

As to Oriel House’s historic garden, it was designed by Percy Stephen Cane, an important English garden designer in the 1930s.  People have fond memories  of the Percy Cane garden with its historic arts and crafts features.

Unfortunately this once beautiful garden has become derelict over time.  However thanks to Ward Pot money and competition winnings from the Skipton Building Society, work has already begun to restore the garden.  As clearance continues, a secret garden to the rear is gradually emerging.  Its original footprint can now clearly be seen.  A stone dipping font attached to a wall has charmingly come out of hiding.

Meanwhile, the garden to the front is blossoming into something like its lovely old self.  The shaped lawn and borders and colourful plantings are very appealing to the eye.  Hopefully in the future people will sit and enjoy the garden – front and back - just as they used to do in its heyday.

The Percy Cane garden is the key to Oriel House’s identity. It may also be the key to Heritage Lottery funding.  Consequently much of the current focus is on restoring it and raising awareness of its importance as a garden.


that end, a series of illustrated talks on Oriel House’s secret garden are due to take place by Landscape Historian Jill Sinclair and others.  The talks, aided by some smart ICT, are scheduled to take place at the Broomhill Festival, Crookes, Crosspool and Broomhall.

The team is also engaged in an oral history project. Among the living memories are gems relating to Oriel House and its historic garden. It’s another important way of bringing the Percy Cane Garden back to life.

Image: A vision of the restored Percy Cane garden.

Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks Book-Signing Event

Last November, BCL’s largest ever book-signing took place in the Children’s Library. A staggering 800 visitors came through the Library’s doors that afternoon.

They wanted to meet Julia Donaldson, author of ‘The Gruffalo’ and children’s favourite Illustrator, Lydia Monks.  Sheltering under umbrellas, families queued round the block to see them.

It was a great privilege for Broomhill Library to host this special event.  Julia Donaldson is a past Children’s Laureate whose books have sold in their millions around the world.  Children can’t get enough of her spell-binding stories and songs.  Children also love the touchy-feely textured illustrations of Sheffield illustrator Lydia Monks.

There was a real party atmosphere at Broomhill Library that day with activities for children, balloons, stickers and special children’s refreshments.  Malcolm Donaldson, meanwhile, entertained the queues playing and singing songs written by Julia.

A wide selection of books was provided by Rhyme & Reason Bookshop - a great chance to stock up on books for Christmas with a personalised message from the authors. In pride of place was the authors’ much anticipated new book, ‘What the Ladybird Heard Next’.  So great was the demand for this book that stocks ran out.

It may have been ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ – the title of Julia Donaldson’s first ever book – at Broomhill Library that day. However Julia and Lydia do have an uncanny knack of tapping into young imaginations which leaves children wanting more.

Perhaps that was why so many of them came to talk to the authors and get their books signed - maybe they thought a bit of the magic might rub off.


National Libraries Day at Broomhill Library

On National Libraries Day this year BCL set out to celebrate all things growing.  The place buzzed with garden-themed talks and activities to mark the launch of a brand new Garden Restoration Project.

It was discovered only recently that Oriel House – home to Broomhill Library – hides a garden designed by the internationally famous Landscape Designer, Percy S Cane.  A witty touch on National Libraries Day was the scarecrow standing at the Library entrance. He was smartly dressed as Percy Cane - complete with umbrella.

Many remember this exquisite garden with its colourful plantings.  The aim is to restore the original design – including the Arts and Crafts features introduced by Percy Cane.  It is hoped that once again people will be able to sit book-in-hand and enjoy this beautiful place.

Highlights of the day included a session with international garden historian Jill Sinclair, who talked about Percy Cane.  She was keen to gather people's memories of the Oriel House garden. 

Ken Thompson - Daily Telegraph gardening columnist and author of many books including 'The Sceptical Gardener' also led a panel for a Gardening Question Time session.

Meanwhile, Berlie Doherty - Award winning local children's author – was busy planting seeds to help 8-12 year olds grow their own stories.

Local picture book author Alan Brown also had a few stories up his sleeve which delighted younger children.

Other activities included funky flower creations, children’s dressing up and face-painting. Stalls included Friends of the Botanical Gardens, Rhyme and Reason Books, plant sales, refreshments & cakes.

There was an abundance of reasons to pop down to Broomhill Library on National Libraries Day and five hundred people did just that!

Rediscovering the Oriel House Garden

On National Libraries Day, garden historian Jill Sinclair gave a talk about rediscovering the Oriel House Garden.  It’s a captivating story.

Approximately 85 years ago, Percy Cane laid out the garden at Oriel House – then a private residence.  He was one of the most eminent designers of his day, producing gardens for the rich and famous at home and abroad.  The elegant small garden he designed early in his career for Oriel House remained in place long after it became a public library in 1957.

Percy Cane was famous for his vistas including those at the Scottish Falkland Palace Garden and at Dartington Hall in Devon. His work on the Ethiopian Palace Garden also created a stir in garden design circles.

Cane was influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement and Peto, Jekyll and Lutyens in particular. The Arts and Crafts style was typified by the use of natural materials such as wood and stone.  Percy Cane hated the formal Victorian style with their formal beds.  He preferred perennials, trees and shrubs.  Stonework, urns, water and confident use of planting and colour typified his approach.  The dipping well and the niche with statue in the Oriel House Garden are characteristic of Percy Cane’s approach to garden design.

The Arts and Craft movement was all about doing the best you can when making something.  It also happens to be a great Sheffield tradition inspired by Ruskin and Morris. Sheffield has a history of crafting artisan products away from the great processes of mass production.  In this way Sheffield’s heart could be said to be at the centre of the Percy Cane Garden.

The garden at the Oriel House was designed early in Percy Cane’s career and was the smallest of his designs. Jill Sinclair is confident that Percy Cane also laid out the front garden as the same stone has been used as the house.  Four images of the Oriel House rear garden appeared in the publication ‘Garden Design’ a leading periodical at the time.  These showed a pool garden, a pergola and statuary, a garden shelter and a dipping well for watering plants.

York stone paving, a popular arts and crafts material, was also used in the garden.  Unfortunately the paving was stolen in 2003.  As a result the rear garden was abandoned and became overgrown and derelict.

Last winter, clearance was carried out at the Percy Cane Garden to the rear of Oriel House.  It was exciting to discover that the footprint of the Cane design was still there. As trees and tangled thicket were removed, sunken remnants became visible such as the dipping well and the edge of the garden shelter.

Last Autumn, ‘Live Project’, a group of postgraduate Architecture Students drew up plans for the restoration of the Percy Cane Garden.

In order to build on that vision we need your help.  We know that people nurse fond memories of this once beautiful garden. These living memories are key to building a picture of what the gardens were like and how they were used.

Do you know any of the families who were associated with the House since it was built in 1870?

Do you have memories or photos of the Library gardens?

Do you have links with any organisations which may have information about the history of Oriel House?

If so we’d love to hear from you.  Please contact us at

Term-Time Children’s Groups

Monday               2-3pm        STORYTIME  for 2-4 year olds

Tuesday             10-11am    BABY & TODDLER TIME (Books, songs, toys and things to look at).

Alternate Wednesdays*     4–5.15pm CHATTERBOOKS for 5+years  

(Shared reading experience with associated learning in a fun way).

*Please contact the library for dates and times

Children’s Activities for the summer holidays


Join the great Summer Reading challenge. Read six books (or as many as you can) over the summer holidays and win a medal and a special Certificate. Sign up any time at the special welcome area in Broomhill library. Starts on 16th July. Learn how to use the special book sorter to choose your next book. Collect stickers, bookmarks, fridge magnets and wristbands along the way.  Challenge your friends!


For every two books read in the Summer Reading Challenge, you can get your Children’s University passport stamped. There are many activities and learning destinations such as schools, swimming baths and libraries associated with the Children’s University. Ask at the BCL Help Desk for details.

Broomhill Community Library - a reminder of our contact details!

Where we are:

10 Taptonville Road, Sheffield, S10 5BR

When we are open:

Monday 10.30 – 6.30pm

Tuesday 10.00 – 2.00pm

Wednesday 10.00 – 5.30pm

Thursday Closed

Friday 10.00 – 5.30pm

Saturday 10.00 – 4.00pm

Sunday Closed

Phone number:

0114 273 4276

General e-mail

Other e-mail addresses you may need



Follow us on Twitter


Thanks to:

BCL journalist/ photographer:  Celia Lock

BCL editor: Anna Majchrzak

BCL Newsletter 3: Autumn 2015

posted 26 Nov 2015, 08:32 by Judith Pitchforth   [ updated 26 Nov 2015, 09:29 ]

BCL Celebrates its First Birthday!

Last month, Volunteers celebrated the end of BCL’s first year as a volunteer-led library. As they raised a glass with Friends and supporters, it was hard to believe they had come this far.

On 29th September last year, professional staff departed and Broomhill Library closed its doors for the last time. The following day at 10am, Broomhill Community Library was born.

The new co-delivered Library was to be run entirely by volunteers with support from Sheffield City Council for a specified period.  

Initially there were fears for the health of the new-born. As one well-wisher at the party commented ‘The voluntary sector is shrinking. People are not volunteering in the numbers they used to.  I was amazed that Broomhill Library has bucked this trend.’

After its first faltering steps, Broomhill Community Library is thriving.  Manned by around 80 Volunteers, it is now open for longer - 33 hours in all.  Children’s activities are also much to the fore. So are big, happy community events like that for National Libraries Day.

On occasions like this the library hosts fascinating talks, displays and staged events.  The dressing up box comes out too, filling the Library with life and colour.

All this is made possible by the resourceful dedicated team of Volunteers who pull it all together. They also manage to knock out some of the best cakes and refreshments around - like those enjoyed at last month’s celebratory party.

So why did they volunteer ?

At the recent birthday celebrations Volunteers were asked why they had volunteered. Here is what they wrote:

'to learn new skills;  

'to meet new people';

'to enable this vital community asset to continue for future generations';  

'to keep the library open';  

'continuity for S10 children to enjoy what their parents had';  

'everyone should have access to free books';

'libraries are at the heart of the community - I brought my children and grandchildren here.  I want future generations to come here and value books and reading; 

‘I volunteered because I love libraries. Libraries will always be the key - for any family without books.  It provides a space to work';  'to keep open places in the community - places that are open to all and are not privatised'.

One year on, these responses suggest that the sense of ‘Community’ - as expressed in the title ‘Broomhill Community Library’ - is as powerful as ever.


Huge thanks to all who voted for BCL in the recent Grassroots Giving Scheme from Skipton Building Society. We are delighted to announce that we are one of the lucky winners and will receive £500 to help us to improve the Library garden. A big thanks too, to those who prepared the killer bid!

Broomhill Library Reborn

A year ago, Broomhill Library, one of the busiest branch libraries in Sheffield, faced closure. This much loved library housed in the gracious sunny villa known as ‘Oriel House’ faced a bleak future. Then new shoots began to appear:

In September 2014 the Library re-opened as a co-delivered library, run entirely by volunteers. Now open for 33 hours a week, with a daily footfall of 150-200 users, the library serves a population of 50,000.

There are now proposals to transform the library into a Community Hub. If adopted as part of the local Neighbourhood Plan, the plan could become reality one day. Unused rooms in the basement and attic could be transformed into community rooms opening out to the garden.

A much-needed facility for the wider community, this would bring many more people to the site.

New shoots...

There are also signs of new shoots growing - literally - in the Broomhill Library Garden. Not long ago the Library Garden Group made the stirring discovery that Oriel House’s now derelict garden was created by the internationally famous garden designer Percy Cane. He was commissioned in 1933 by the garden’s then owner, industrialist Arthur Lee.

Many remember this exquisite garden with its colourful plantings. Now it is wildly overgrown. The pergola has gone, its original York stone
paving stolen and its fountain tinkles
o more

Now BCL’s Garden Group aims to restore the garden to its original design – including the Arts and Craft features introduced by Percy Cane. It is hoped that once again people will be able sit book-in-hand and enjoy this beautiful place.

"Every journey begins with a simple step. At the end of this journey, there will be a treasured amenity for local residents of all ages and a noteworthy restoration to enhance the Conservation Area",’ said Alan Wellings, Chairman of the Library’s Steering Committee.

Phase 1 of the garden’s restoration has already begun. Efforts to clear the front garden have continued all year. Colourful plantings have also re-appeared. On 17th October, the front area was returfed. A Ward Pot grant of £600 made this possible. A winning bid for Grass Roots Giving from Skipton Building Society brought another £500. This will be used to secure the garden to the rear. A detailed survey of what remains of the Arts and Crafts Garden will follow. Clearance of the overgrowth and self-seeded trees will complete the first phase.

BCL: A Vision for the Future

You may have noticed a stir in the library in recent weeks - a snap, crackle and pop kind of energy. That would be the Live Project team, a dozen postgraduate architecture students from the University of Sheffield.

For six weeks they worked on their vision of how Broomhill Community Library might look in the future. Their idea is to transform the existing building facilities into ‘Oriel House’, a self-sustaining, independent Community Hub for Broomhill and its neighbouring wards. At its heart would be everybody’s favourite library.

Their drawings show how unused spaces in the attic and basement could be opened up to create community spaces that flow one into another.

Postgraduate Architecture Students and the Wish Tree .............................. and their ideas for the rear view of BCL.

These ideas could include an integrated cafe, play areas for children and rentable spaces for community activities.

With the opening up of the rear of the building, indoor spaces would flow out into a garden area. The aim here is to restore the once beautiful garden created by the internationally famous garden designer, Percy Cane. Many people recall many a happy hour spent in this garden in past times. The plan is to take this hidden gem and turn it once more into a lively, engaging public garden. To the front of the building the garden is already coming to life with newly-laid turf and colourful plantings.

Design your Own Hub

Live Project’s colourful speculative architectural visions were recently on display in the library. The team also engaged in a series of vivid conversations with Library Users and Volunteers. A ‘Design your Own Hub’ exercise included activities such as a ‘Wish Tree’. Here participants were invited to write a wish and hang it from the tree. These hopes and dreams included :

‘a flexible vibrant space that is welcoming to everyone – the young, the old and the lonely’................ ‘comfy seating areas with plants and softer lighting’............. ‘a cosy café in Winter opening onto an outside terrace in Summer’............... ‘public toilets’.............. ‘bring back the Percy Caine garden but with a modern slant’............... ‘a play-space which opens onto the garden’................ ‘ a children’s garden’.............. ‘edible garden plants’............. ‘space for readings from writers and poets’................ ‘room for a writer-in-residence’........... ‘creative writing and book club space’................ ‘film club facility with screen and seats’...............; ‘a technology-smart informal space..............; more computers for children’.

The Doll's House

A delightful ‘Doll’s House’ model also attracted much interest from all age groups. It provided a great forum for discussion as participants placed human figures, bookshelves and furniture inside the dolls house. Volunteer Pat Ratcliffe even put a grand piano in there - displaying a secret yen for musical activity in the New Community Hub. A ‘have-a-go’ upright piano would be nice - like the ones they have on railway stations’ smiled Pat.

Collaboration in the Community

All this feedback has helped to fuel Live Project’s design initiatives. They have also collaborated closely with BCL’s Steering Committee. BBEST members of of the Local Neighbourhood Planning Forum, have also played an active part.

Together they have looked at the urgent question of how to create a more vibrant future for BCL. Changes in technology and life-style, nationwide closures and cuts in council funding threaten the traditional library. A Community Hub is Live Project’s answer.

‘We are passionate about our proposals’ says Live Project member Paul Bailey. ‘The new accessible facilities would cater for all and become a real asset to the community. It offers a benchmark that could be adapted for use throughout the country.’

The task ahead for BCL is to secure a long leasing arrangement and attract funding opportunities to support the re-development. Meanwhile the Live Project’s proposals are an inspiring start towards the realisation of the Oriel House Community Hub.

Children's Book Signing...........By JULIA DONALDSON and LYDIA MONKS

Meet Julia Donaldson (author of The Gruffalo) and Lydia Monks  (children's favourite illustrator) who will be signing copies of  their new book
"What the Ladybird Heard Next".
This well-loved pairing will sign copies of any book bought on the day, plus one pre-loved book from home per child.

[Book Sales by Rhyme and Reason Books, 681 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield S11 8TG.
Tel: 0114 266 1950, Email:].

Volunteering at BCL: A Musician's Perspective.

When I heard about the Baby Toddler Time sessions at Broomhill Library I saw it as an amazing opportunity. Here was a chance to adapt my guitar skills to a much simpler musical context – learning from the children’s reactions as I played. I reckoned that in the process I would also acquire skills that would help me become a great father one day.

The sessions take place every Tuesday. We all head upstairs to a nice cosy playroom. The young ones are given toys to play with and occasionally a couple of them become distracted by me warming up on my acoustic guitar.

I remember vividly how one child’s eyes in particular gleamed with interest as he stood in front of me. He was carefully observing how the synchronicity between my fretting hand and picking hand produced the sounds he was hearing. He was a mirror reflection of myself when I first saw a guitar player performing.

When everyone has arrived, we all settle down for story time. The story told, we slowly transition into action songs. We usually go through ten to twelve songs before the session ends.

For the first couple of weeks I transposed all the songs into a single key. I had been taught that this was a catch-all key for every type of voice.

However we soon bumped into difficulties with this. Some find it natural to sing in quite a different key. I soon learned to think on my feet, to find the key they were in and provide a suitable accompaniment. Most of the songs are very simple, so finding the key and the chords on the spot does not take that long.

Ultimately the goal is not only to develop your craft but to share a knowledge and passion for music. I do hope that my presence may have sparked enough interest in the toddlers for them to want to make music themselves one day.

Children's Activities: Summer 2015

Arts and Crafts Workshops

This Summer twenty children flocked to a two-day Arts and Crafts event at BCL. Popular in term-time, this event was run by 17 year old Hannah Ronan Brown. On day one, the children used fabric paint to decorate canvas shopping bags. On the next they decorated pillowcases. ‘It was a messy old business’, says Hannah, ‘but the children loved personalising useful things. Some of them wanted to use the bags as library bags.’

Summer Reading Challenge at BCL

This Summer, 297 children from neighbouring schools took part in the annual Summer Reading Challenge at Broomhill Library. They signed up to read six library books over the Summer holidays. This fun scheme, promoted by the Reading Agency, helps maintain children’s reading skills during the long Summer break.

The scheme was entirely voluntary; youngsters had to get themselves to the library, sign up - in some cases becoming members of the library for the first time - choose books, read them, return for more books and so on.

Apart from the rewards of reading, the youngsters collected stickers, posters, games and keyrings. At the end of the Challenge, the children were awarded their very own gold medal – and lots of pats on the back.

In spite of the rival attractions of holidays, X-boxes and sports, many completed the challenge. One girl did it while on a return visit to her home in China. Another read in the sunshine at her grandparents’ town in Greece.

Children's Poetry Workshops

Biography was big at the Children’s Poetry Workshops which took place this Summer. So were giraffes!

Children used drawings of their hands to tell us about themselves in word pictures. Ana used her fingers to tell us she was variously a writer, artist, poet, baker and untidy. Another participant told us that into their head had come a poem about giraffes:

‘Giraffes are tall, Giraffes aren’t small’
    Giraffes are big, Giraffes don’t play tig.
Giraffes are shy, I hope they don’t lie,    
    Giraffes do what they’re told, Giraffes are not bold.
Giraffes take the right paths, Giraffes don’t do maths.
    Giraffes are clever !

Just some of the gems produced at this Summer’s Poetry Workshops led by Maureen Bownas and Helen.

Pyjama Drama

At Pyjama Drama, Gemma Windle’s automatic out-of-office email reads: ‘I may be flying a magic carpet, or having tea with the kings of the castle and will get back to you when I return.’

This tells you all you need to know about Pyjama Drama. Some of us can just about remember what it was like to be a child. How, in an instant, a couple of chairs and a blanket could be transformed into a pirate ship, a steam train, or a castle. Pyjama Drama use pretending, role-play and music to tap into children’s imaginations.

Two sessions led by Pyjama Drama’s Vicki this summer were based on the theme of the ‘Frozen’ adventures. Needless to say, they went down a storm.

Last but not least!........BUMPER BOOK SALE

                10.30 - 5.30 pm Saturday 5th December

                Broomhill Community Library, Taptonville Road, S10 5BR

                Donated and ex-library books in good condition for children and adults - from 50p.

                Choose from great titles/authors.

                All proceeds to Broomhill Community Library Fund.

BCL Newsletter 2: Spring/Summer 2015

posted 8 Jun 2015, 01:05 by Judith Pitchforth   [ updated 21 Jun 2015, 07:08 ]

In this edition:

The Broomhill Festival is a local community celebration held every June, which brings the community of Broomhill together, raising money for local charities, which this year includes Broomhill Community Library. Come and join in some Festival fun at the Library and nearby venues. Find more information at

Events associated with the library:

Saturday 6th June 10.30 - 12.00 noon       Coffee, Cake and Community at the Library

Saturday 13th June 2.15 - 3.30 pm            An interactive talk* by Children's Book Illustrator Lydia Monks at the Library

Tuesday 16th June 7.00 - 9.00 pm            Lecture* by Tim Lynch: 'Sheffield: remembering 1914 - 18' at St Mark's Church

* Rhyme & Reason bookshop will be selling the authors' books at discounted rates at these events!

Volunteering at BCL: A Male Perspective

Volunteer Kirk Davis loves books. He likes the look and feel of a real book in his hands. He also loves the building in which the books at BCL are housed.  Kirk and his family have visited Broomhill Library for twenty years. Like many, they think of the library in its sunny villa on Taptonville Road as an old friend.

Kirk says some of the best memories of his life are coming home on Saturdays with arms full of books after visiting the library with his two daughters. He read to them most nights.  It would begin with the cry from his excited younger daughter ‘Tell the Words!’  He still enjoys a reading bond with his daughters, getting to grips with young adult fiction such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘The Exodus’ trilogy.

Last year when the Library was faced with closure, Kirk saw an opportunity to give something back to the library that had given him so much. Finding himself with some spare time, he became a volunteer.

There tend to be fewer male volunteers than female. However Kirk is comfortable with that. After all, he does live in an all female household with a wife, two daughters and female pets.  Like many of us he occasionally finds it difficult to remember new things.  However he observes that library users are very forbearing.

Because of changing patterns of use in libraries, Kirk felt that in the future BCL could develop as a community hub.  He would like to see community rooms open most nights for concerts, talks and discussion groups.

He also suggested room hire for knitting clubs, film nights, even pop-up portable painting/pottery workshops.

Edward Armstrong, a sixth form student at High Storrs School is also a volunteer.

When asked why he became a volunteer he said simply ‘I didn’t want it to close.’  As is often the case, Ed used to visit the library as a child.

Ed’s approach to volunteering is very task-centred. He says he is more familiar with computers than most. As he goes about the business of moving books around, he likes to problem-solve and think things through.  He would like to develop a system via the computer for identifying old books not borrowed for some time in order to discard them and make way for new ones.

 The other week Ed had to find a water-main. The instructions were not helpful. He thought it through and finally tracked the water main half way up a bank to the rear of the building.  He had to hack his way through to reach it.  He would love to see this area developed into a play area.

Ed hopes to study Film and TV Production at Cambridge School of Art.

National Libraries’ Day

Broomhill Community Library celebrated National Libraries’ Day in February with a series of events based upon ‘The Story of our Local Community around 1850 and 1950s. 

There were displays of life from Victorian times to the 1950s with items to handle and buy – coins, donated books and baked items. All proceeds helped raise funds to support Broomhill Community Library.

The Victorian Tea Party

Broomhill Library’s home is a sunny Victorian Villa formerly known as ‘Oriel House’.  Until the 1930s it was a real family home. To celebrate the Library’s Victorian heritage, a Victorian tea party was held right here in the library.

‘Lady’ Anne Hughes was joined for tea by three gentleman companions. A little girl in a mobcap at her elbow completed the charming picture. 

 Attended by a parlour maid, Lady Anne poured tea for her guests. They were seated at a lace-covered table laid with cups, saucers and plates of the finest china.  A cake stand held two kinds of sandwiches, buns, scones and a magnificent Victoria sponge – something our Victorian hostess had prepared earlier. 

 Lady Anne said of her Victorian clothes ‘They slow one down and promote composure.’ She confided that she didn’t wear a corset but felt that the formal clothes influenced her posture. Likewise the manner in which she sits and stands. She also observed that wearing a large hat meant that one held one’s head in a gracious position.  

 The gentlemen meanwhile, felt that their stiff garments meant that they held themselves like gentlemen. They promoted poise and led them to walk more sedately (one has to go to the right tailor of course).

In the present day, Anne Hughes and her friends enjoy attending Victorian enactments. These have included Victorian games of croquet in Weston Park, as well as flamingo croquet in Ilfracombe in honour of Lewis Carroll.

In September, look out for them strolling about in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens at the ‘Art in the Gardens’ event.

A Talk On a Broomhill Resident: Adela Pankhurst

On National Libraries’ Day, Susan Widdows gave a talk on Adela Pankhurst, a prominent suffragette and the youngest of the three Pankhurst sisters.

In 1911 Adela came to live at 45, Marlborough Road, Broomhill. She came to run the Women’s Social and Political Union at the invitation of her friend Helen Archdale. There is a picture in the Sheffield Archives of Adela Pankhurst addressing a meeting in Attercliffe.

The local SAVE Group wanted a plaque to draw attention to the presence of Adela Pankhurst at 45 Marlborough Road. Blue plaques are mainly found in the South of England. However, after some dedicated fund-raising, the Save Group settled for the striking sun-ray design now embedded in the pavement outside 45, Marlborough Road. Jill Liddington, the author of ‘Rebel Girls’ was there for the unveiling. There followed street party celebrations with games and buns.

We couldn’t fail to notice the sea of colour - purple, white and green - that surrounded us during Sue Widdows talk. These were the suffragette colours, explained Sue: purple for dignity, white for purity and green for hope. It was easy to feel swept away by the fight of these plucky women for the vote.

Broomhill Children’s Library in 1957

In 1957 Oriel House became home to Broomhill Library. Photographs from the time show the same sunny rooms smartly refurbished in 50’s style as a library. The Children’s Library appears to be a very tidy place with shiny linoleum floors, polished furniture and peaceful 1950’s children waiting at the desk (see photo).

On National Libraries’ Day, an intriguing exhibition was set up in the Library to celebrate its beginnings in the 1950’s. Volunteer Jan Millward, dressed in chic 50’s clothes, handed round plates of tasty biscuits to try. The recipe was from a collection of ‘food hints’ in the BERO book on display.

Children’s toys and games on display included hula-hoops and yo-yos - the on-trend toys at the time. There was a farm set too and cowboys and indians made of lead. Eye-Spy books were also firm favourites.

I stopped to leaf through a copy of Picturegoer magazine. Suddenly a browser, who introduced herself as Helen, spotted a 1950’s Paton and Baldwin knitting pattern for boy’s pullovers. ‘I remember knitting that!’ she exclaimed.

Ah nostalgia…

The History of Taptonville Road

Lee Kenny gave a talk on the subject of ‘Local Houses, Buildings and Families on Taptonville Road’ - a real eye-opener.

She feels Taptonville Road is a special place. ‘Look around at the wonderful architectural features’, she invited.  Notice the original railings, gas lamps and cobbled flooring. Look at the doorways.  See the gates of Cedar House.’

 Nearby ‘Cedar House’, built in the Egyptian style, was home to Matthew Hale, manufacturer of silver plate.  No. 25, ‘Erin House’ was owned by J Merryweather, Dental Surgeon.  Nos. 22 & 24, ‘Mountfield House’, home to Swann Morton, was built in the Gothic Revival style.

 No.10 Taptonville Road ‘Oriel House’ was built in the Classical Revival style.  This gracious sunny villa was built in 1870 for John Fanshawe Littlewood - a cooper and packing case manufacturer. He lived there with his wife, three sons and two servants. They were replaced by another family – that of prominent industrialist Arthur Lee. They lived there from 1912 until WW2. It was then occupied as a residential house until 1955.


Finally in 1957, it became home to Broomhill Library. The basement rooms are said to be a revelation. Now mainly a storage space, the remains of Victorian domesticity can still be seen there.  Perhaps in the future these rooms can once again be opened up to the light and air - brought to bustling life again as community rooms in the new Broomhill Community Library.

Children’s Activities On National Libraries Day 2015

To celebrate the Broomhill Library building’s Victorian past, some children delved into the dressing-up box. Dressed as Victorian children in mobcaps and aprons and suchlike, they soon got into the spirit of things.  Fun is fun, whatever the era.

There was brass coin rubbing and plate doilly-making too. Then after a lively Treasure Hunt,which included spotting some of the building's architectural features, they settled to listen to a talk by Children's Book Illustrator, Lydia Monks.

The talk was both interactive and absorbing as the children helped to design book illustrations. Directed by the children, a few whimsical strokes on the flip chart with a marker pen became a hedgehog.  A few more and it became a hedgehog with attitude… These child-directed story illustrations came straight from the children’s teeming imaginations - fascinating as well great fun to watch.

Bookclub Review

'Elizabeth is Missing' by Emma Healey Published by Viking 2014

Emma Healey’s debut novel was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2014. The story focuses on Maud, who lives alone and is elderly and confused.  Her friend Elizabeth has disappeared. The main driver of the novel is Maud's pursuit of the truth about Elizabeth. Maud spends a lot of time remembering when she was a teenager in post war England, living with her parents, older sister Sukey and lodger Douglas. As the novel progresses memories of the past become intertwined with the present.

Young writer Emma Healey displays touching insight as she describes a dementia sufferer’s ingenious attempts to make sense of the world around her. The sadness of her patient family and the pressures they face is also well portrayed. It has to be said that the book is slow in parts and the links between past and present are sometimes confusing. The novel’s predictable ending is also less than satisfying and something of an anti-climax. 

Overall, however, the Book Club felt that this was an impressive debut novel, which well deserves its success.

Children’s Activities at BCL

Story Time

Every Monday afternoon from 2-3pm children, parents and grandparents gather for Story Time.  Everyone has such a good time the group has grown nearly three times in size - the word is out.

Run by Sue Widdows and Pat Ratcliffe, Story Time is for children from 2+ to 5 years.  Ex nursery teacher Sue Widdows tells us that the programme at Broomhill Library is unique in its interactivity.  First there is a story, but it doesn’t end there.  The children are invited to really get inside the story. They sing and dance. They draw and paint. They cut things out and stick them with glue. It’s all inspired by the story they have just heard. Best of all they share it all with family members as well as the other children. Last October the children created an animal scene, which fitted in with the story ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’. 

Past triumphs also include a Noah’s Ark display where they placed photos of their own family in the Ark.  Recently the children have encountered the world of mini-beasts (insects to you and me).

Sue feels that activities like these assist children’s social development. It can also help children with delayed language development.  Children learn social cues from other children and really start to listen. Sue tells of one child who preferred not to sit for a story. Instead he stood quite still, totally absorbed. That’s the magic of Story Time.

Term-Time Children’s Groups


Mon 2-3pm STORYTIME (2-4 yrs)

Tues 10-11am BABY & TODDLER TIME 

Books, songs, toys and things to look at.


Wed 4-5.15pm BOOK-A-ROO (5-7 yrs)

A Guided Reading Session Meets 2nd Wed each month.

(Next Book-A-Roo 10th June & 8th July)


Fri 4-5.15pm ART & CRAFT (5+yrs)


Sat 11-12am CHATTERBOOKS (8-12 yrs)

Shared reading experience with associated learning in a fun way.

(Alternate Saturdays from 16thMay. Please contact Library to confirm time as this could change).



Join the great Summer Reading challenge. Read six books (or as many as you can) over the Summer holidays and win a medal and a special Certificate. Sign up any time at the special welcome area in Broomhill library. Starts 11thJuly. Learn how to use the special book sorter to choose your next book. Collect stickers, bookmarks, fridge magnets and wristbands along the way. Challenge your friends!



For every two books read in the Summer Reading Challenge, you can get your Children’s University passport stamped. There are many activities and learning destinations such as schools, swimming baths and libraries associated with the Children’s University. Ask at the desk for details.



Sat 18th July Act out stories in your jim-jams.

10.30-11.30am (4-5 yrs) & 11.30-12.30pm (5-7 yrs)

BCL journalist/ photographer:  Celia Lock

BCL editor/ photographer: Fiona Koster

Broomhill, May 2015

BCL Newsletter 1 - Winter 2014/15

posted 1 Feb 2015, 12:44 by Siavash Moshiri   [ updated 2 Feb 2015, 08:56 ]

Team Party for Volunteers

Months after its successful launch, the new Broomhill Community Library celebrated with a tea party for its Volunteers.

Amongst the 40 or 50 Volunteers who attended was Elaine Nunn. When asked what she had most enjoyed most about the party she didn’t hesitate: ‘The opportunity to meet other volunteers and the great social atmosphere. You really felt a part of something.’

Volunteers brought food – three tables of it. This included some very professional-looking cup cakes made by Volunteer Sophia. ‘Delicious and not too sweet,’ said Elaine who normally gives these over-sugared calorie grenades a swerve. The party atmosphere was also helped along by mulled wine - warmed by Eilis Coffey in her slow cooker.

Later, Steering Committee member Kathy Harbord gave volunteers an update on the status of the Broomhill Library and its dealings with Sheffield City Council. There is still stuff to iron out it seems, but so far so good. She also outlined the recent Volunteer Questionnaire results. Most found library volunteering a very worthwhile experience with a great working atmosphere.

Many thought they would like more training. Lively group discussions followed. With the benefit of two months experience volunteers were able to make helpful suggestions about training and how volunteer activities might be organised. It was also decided it was time to tell the world about Broomhill Library and its activities – in particular its thriving children’s activities. It was decided to leaflet local shops.

With the party still warm in her memory, the last word goes to Library Volunteer Elaine Nunn: ‘I was impressed by the effort put in by the Volunteers. Also the commitment and community spirit that I saw – which wasn’t just down to the mulled wine.’

Volunteers Bring Back Colour to Broomhill Library Garden

“Many people remember how beautiful the garden used to be then – recently discovered to be the work of Percy Cane.”

Volunteers are bringing back colour to the garden at Broomhill Library.

It all began in the autumn with a Garden Day for Volunteers. In just one day they dug up turf, pulled out roots, cleared away long grass and leveled the ground. They pruned and they planted. More Garden Days are planned.

The volunteers – keen local gardeners as well as student volunteers – plan a chain reaction of colour as the seasons unfold. It must have looked a little like that when the library first opened in 1957 at the site of a former villa. Many people remember how beautiful the garden used to be then - recently discovered to be the work of Percy Cane, the well-known English garden designer.

‘I love flowers’ said a smiling Helen Davies as she split some asters. ‘Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens have kindly donated a bag of bulbs. We are also planting easy perennials to bring colour back to the garden: geraniums, flowering quince and a splash of a pulmonaria – said to be good for the lungs.

The idea of healthy lungs is very appealing to student volunteer Xie Zhuohan who finds Sheffield very clean and peaceful after the noise and pollution of a Chinese city.

The student volunteers admitted that at times the work was heavy as they struggled with hard soil and stubborn roots. However they are very aware of the rewards.

Veronica Tse, ambassador for the University Student Volunteer Group loves interacting with the local community. She also sees it as a chance to get out of the student ‘bubble’. No stranger to beautiful gardens in her native Singapore, Veronica says she wants to make something nice for library users.

Thanks to Volunteers, Broomhill Library is blossoming and blooming once again – not least in its garden.

Christmas Fun for Tinies

Broomhill Library’s youngest members were joined by two very special guests at their Christmas party. There was fun aplenty when the Baby/Toddler Time Group were joined by two of their Grandfathers.

One played the guitar and led some lively Christmas singing. The children, playing newly acquired percussion instruments, brought lots of jollity to ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Jingle Bells’. 

Suddenly there was a knock at the door and one of the children went to answer it. A surprise guest was led in by the hand heavily disguised as Saint Nicholas and carrying a heavy red sack.

After a short nativity story and a few more songs, it was time for Santa to dig into his sack. Each child came to collect an age-appropriate literary present. Santa wasn’t that scary but some of them wisely kept their distance. Others were happy to have their photo taken with the man in red. Then it was time to tuck into the food – a baby/toddler friendly spread – and plenty for the adults too including some mouth watering mini cupcakes made by one of the mothers.

This was followed by a Christmas craft activity prepared by one of the Children’s Volunteers. The older children had lots of messy fun with glue & glitter - decorating bells and Christmas Trees and making some cards.

A special collection was held and a donation sent to the local children’s charity, Bluebell Wood.

Father Christmas may have put his feet up for another year, but there’s still lots of fun to be had every Tuesday at 10am. Come and join us at our weekly open session. Babies & toddlers 0-2+ and their carers meet up for chat, play, and singing. There’s usually a short story or a craft activity and there are always colouring sheets and puzzles for the older ones.

Student Volunteers Shine

You may have noticed some young faces amongst the volunteers at Broomhill Community Library. They are an unobtrusive presence, quietly getting on with their tasks.

However, these school students who are working for their Duke of Edinburgh Award, quietly shine.

Take 15 year old Megan Jones for instance. A pupil at Sheffield High School, she is working after school at Broomhill Library. She is engaged in service in the community – an important aspect of her work for the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

To the admiration of some of us older volunteers who are still getting the hang of it, Megan finds the library computer systems simple. In the early days however, when faced with a query from a library user, she did find it a challenge. However she soon found she was good at figuring out things for herself rather than asking someone else. Happily, developing problem-solving skills and independence are some of the chief aims of the Duke of Edinburgh award.

Megan who eventually hopes to study medicine, has learned much about how a public library works. She says she only knew about school libraries before. She is enjoying her contact with a wider range of books including Broomhill Library’s exciting collection of graphic novels.

Sisters Verity and Imogen Laycock are also volunteers at Broomhill Library. Together with their friend Joanna Register, they are pupils at Tapton School. All three girls are also working for their Duke of Edinburgh Award. It seems they loved their visits to the library as children and wanted to give something back. So they chose to work in the Children’s Library, making graphic displays and working with chidren’s groups. As we talked, Verity was colouring, cutting and sticking. Soon a large giraffe stalked the wall and an owl winked down at us.

Seeing though the eyes of a child is a talent and these girls have it in spades.

BCL journalist and photographer: Celia Lock
BCL editor: Fiona Koster
Ⓒ Copyright Broomhill Community Library 2015

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