December 2018/January 2019 Newsletter

posted 26 Jan 2019, 09:00 by Judith Pitchforth

Pick up your copy in the library today...

Summer 2018 newsletter

posted 9 Aug 2018, 08:04 by Judith Pitchforth

Our Summer newsletter is now available here or you can collect a paper copy in the library and catch up with our latest news!
Happy reading.

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   [ updated 13 Mar 2018, 12:26 ]

Our Spring 2016 Newsletter is attached below

BCL Newsletter 3: Autumn 2015

posted 26 Nov 2015, 08:32 by Judith Pitchforth   [ updated 14 Mar 2018, 10:33 ]

Our Autumn 2015 newsletter is attached below - happy reading.

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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