Looking forward

As we enter the new decade, it’s a good time to look back on what we’ve achieved here at the centre – and also to look forward with optimism to the future.
As you know, Blythe Bridge is a ‘community-managed’ library. In other words, the county council would no longer be keeping it open if The Care & Fun Charity (or another voluntary organisation) had not stepped forward to say it would take on the responsibility of keeping it running.
And, thanks to your support, and to the new volunteers who keep joining us, we have been keeping our heads above water!

We are now into the fourth year of our five-year agreement with the county, which almost makes us one of the veterans in Staffordshire’s roster of community-managed libraries. CML meeting, Jan 2020As a ‘veteran’, we were asked to host a CML Network meeting earlier this month (see pic above) – a nice honour.

Back in 2019

Looking back on last year, it is lovely to report what strides forward we made.

The stats say it all.
There were an astonishing 42,400 visits to the library; there were 525 separate activity-events (including club sessions); and we hosted some 32 one-off special events … all made possible by the endeavours of the volunteers, who clocked up 5,630 hours of selfless effort!
Quite a record for a small library.

To infinity … and beyond…

In a time of change and social issues, such as we are passing through now, we believe that a library centre such as Blythe’s is a place that can act as a force-for-good in the local community.
We would like to see the centre be an even bigger force for good in future so we are not sitting on our achievements but pressing forward…

Thus, the book-stock is constantly changing – and please remember, we are here to help you find the books you need in your life, even if we don’t have them in stock immediately.
Our training courses, supported by Acorn Training, already see a high demand, but we intend to see that even more of them get pre-funding, from various sources. This means that nearly everybody can get a place on them without having to worry about money.
Our various club sessions – from chess to quilting to Warhammer – are now well-established, but, with the help of our volunteers, we will be starting at least two altogether-new clubs.
And there’s always the Unknown. Do you and your friends feel like setting up a book club? Or how about staging some local history talks? Even put on a small play or concert? The possibilities are endless – please come and talk to us, and we’ll guide you through the process.
Plus… would you like to volunteer? There are lots of different tasks, from being on the desk to helping compile the newsletter to general publicity. Whatever your skill, we’ve probably a job for you. See here for what’s involved.

It looks like 2020 will be a good year!

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Courses new for 2020

As we’ve just said, we’re expanding the number and range of courses we’re hosting at the centre.

Here are a few of them starting in the next few weeks…
Our new Code Club is aimed at young people aged 9-13yrs (registration, parental consent signature required) who have an interest in computer animations and gaming. This club will start on Friday 31st January running from 3.30 to 4.30pm, run by Archie (our Tuesday afternoon volunteer). No cost to join, but please book.
Our new Ancestry Group will be run by Kate, our Thursday morning volunteer. If you have an interest in genealogy, this group will be a fabulous benefit to you as you research your family tree. The Ancestry group will meet every Thursday afternoon from 6th February 1.30-2.30pm. No cost to join, but please book.
The “Ready Steady Go– Job Club” supports job hunters at every stage of their journey, from confidence building, application forms, cover letters and CV creation help, to interview techniques and support. The club starts Monday 13th January 1-3pm. Registration required.
All these plus our two popular IT courses ”Get Connected” and “Enhanced IT”, not to mention our revamped “Baby Massage” class. (See our Events page for dates & times)

Thanks to Sharon

A lovely picture from the Stay & Play Xmas party sums up how indebted the parents feel to Sharon (who is the lady who runs the group).
Using the offices of Santa, they presented her with gifts of appreciation – as you can see!stay and play xmas party 2019Some forty children and their parents, grandparents, and carers all attended, and enjoyed the event.

Stay & Play is a group for local parents & toddlers which meets twice a week, in a private session, at the library centre.
For more about Stay & Play, click here

Novembertime

Amidst all the November frost and fog, it’s good to remember that Christmas is not far away.
But then … terror strikes: what to give as presents that we haven’t given before???
Problem solved: shop at the Blythe Centre Christmas Fair – which takes place in the morning of Saturday November 30th. Admission is free.

This annual fair is so popular that all the stalls sold out within two weeks of our posting the event – so visitors will find lots of local crafts-people’s work on sale, which means you’ll be supporting home-grown businesses too, a real bonus.

The kids are not forgotten either – Santa will be in his grotto (£2.50, gift included) all morning. (Now, what on their seasonal wish-lists will they be asking him for?)

Find out more about this event and dozens of others at the centre on our Events Page

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Unblocked

Congratulations to Rosemary Conner & Lisa Culligan of our writers’ group. The creative pair submitted work to the Potteries Flash Fiction Prize this year – and not only had their pieces shortlisted but ended up getting ‘Highly Commended’ awards!  Well done indeed.
You can get a flavour of their work by checking out the library’s display area, where their work is now on show.

The 'Blythe Blockers' logo

The ‘Blythe Blockers‘ logo

The writers’ group that Lisa and Rosemary belong to (and which is known as the ‘Blythe Blockers’) meet every fourth Monday of the month at 5.30pm at the centre; and they always welcome newcomers, of all abilities. Why not give their session a go? You could ‘unblock’ your own talents…

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Get with the espanol

One of the depressing things about going abroad is realising that you can’t even read simple signs. There’s no point in swallowing a dictionary of course, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to order a loaf of bread in a shop?

Well, if you’re ever going to go to Spain, Sophie can help. Her new Spanish conversational sessions are running every Friday at the centre from 11am-12noon, just £1.
Sophie is well-recommended by us – as patient, understanding, and fun!Hablemos Espanol logoSophie, who is very experienced in language teaching, also told us that getting used to another language is not just for travellers. The process of picking up foreign words and phrases is very stimulating for the brain, so, all of us, travellers or not, could get something out of the sessions…
If you are interested in joining Sophie, try to complete the (non-binding) registration form at the library first. (It helps us organise the paperwork!)

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Gotta poem?

Incidentally, do you ever feel the urge to put down your feelings in the form of a poem?
Every month we publish a poem written by one of our readers in our monthly digital newsletter.
Send us a poem of yours to blythebridge.library@staffordshire.gov.uk and you could see your work in print…

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Do you want to comment? Just jot down your thoughts in the Comments Box further down this page

Small efforts – big results

Autumn generally sees the resumption of life-learning after the relaxation of the summer… and here at Blythe, it’s no different! There are nearly a half a dozen new courses now up and running or about to start, and some very special one-off activities booked in.
Check our Activities Page to see all the details.

But first, just a quick reminder of an event that brings direct involvement in the celebrations which have been marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a day which saw allied forces storm the coast of France and was the beginning of the end of World War Two.

Vessels of Victory

Vessels of Victory – copyright National Memorial Arboretum

There will be a session in the centre when we are decorating cut-outs of ships – in any design you like! – and these finished artworks will go on to be part of the nationwide Vessels Of Victory exhibition, which is being staged at the National Memorial Arboretum in south Staffordshire until next month.
It’s a wonderful small chance to contribute to the D-Day celebrations, and it will also be fun!
Pencil Monday October 21st into your diary and come along. All welcome.

Could you teach?

We got lots of requests to stage lots of different kinds of classes. Among the subjects most asked after are Sign Language, Ancestry & Family History, and foreign languages.
However, tutors are like gold dust, and hard to come by…

So we are appealing to YOU. Do you have a skill or knowledge that you think you could teach to others? We are not looking for experts, more for amateur enthusiasts who can outline the basics of a subject to a small group – people who can be patient and good listeners, but also able to guide others with a clear plan of approach.
Do you fit this bill? Our activities co-ordinator, Helen, would love to speak to you – so drop in and have a chat…

Welcome Kate

Finally, don’t forget we always welcome volunteers to work on the desk (or in support roles) in the running of the library-centre. You don’t need skills or experience, as there is complete training, and we will try to fit in you in where you’ll feel the most comfortable.
You don’t even need to give us too much of your time, as we only ask a minimum of three hours a week.

One person who has newly joined the team is Kate Bradshaw. Kate is well-known locally through her participation at the church and is also a Draycott village councillor (so you can chat about the current roadworks with her if you like!!).
We are sure Kate will be a great asset to the team, so when you come in next time, please welcome her if you see her…

From the USA to China – and home

There’s something of an international flavour to this, our September posting, with Americana-style music and an artist off to China, but first… something traditionally English!

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Yes, the great Blythe Pie & Pea Supper (& Quiz) is back!   At the end of this month (on Saturday 28th September), this evening of community fun & banter returns.

As those who’ve been before will know, a ticket (all-inclusive) includes not just scrumptious traditional grub & drinks (a drink of wine, tea or coffee) but also entry into our fun quiz, in which teams of friends are thrown entertaining questions (including two picture rounds).
And how much will this evening of jollification cost? The unbelievably low price of £10.00 per person… Tickets on sale at the desk now…

Some notes:
~ If meat pie is not your thing, this time we are offering a vegetarian alternative, but please, book this in advance
~ Fancy a whole bottle of wine? Upgrade your £10 ticket to £15
~ Maximum size of a quiz team is six, minimum two
~ On your own? Let us know in advance, and we’ll try to fix you up in a team
~ Due to licensing laws no extra wine will be sold on the night, but extra soft drinks, tea and coffee will be on sale.

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The Yanks are coming

The Blythe Centre is fortunate in being one of the approved venues for ‘Live & Local’ Promotions, through which the Arts Council subsidises leading performers to visit ‘out of the way’ villages.
And this is how Blythe comes to be hosting the amazing Black Feathers in a few weeks time.

The Black Feathers (pic below) are a duo from the US, and visit Blythe on the back of a tour of their home country, as well as an Irish tour supporting the great Eddi Reader. They have also supported Ray Davies (The Kinks); and their EP, Strangers we Meet, was one of The Daily Telegraph’s best Folk Albums of the year in 2014. TheBlackFeathersFolk, ‘Americana’ and Acoustic Indie Rock are what they do, mixing guitar work with sustaining harmonies. They even do a cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance!
Check out their performances on YouTube.
The Black Feathers come to Blythe on November 6th, and we expect this to be a sell-out, so get your tickets quick if this appeals to you.

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The Chinese connection

Our art wall is available to local artists, and many of them are very good, but not all can say their work is exhibited in China.Joan Kennedy in ChinaJoan Kennedy (pic, on the left) is the exception. Joan, who is a book- illustrator & author as well as artist, has been asked to take her work on trade delegations to China before, and soon she will be off again, to the Hangzhou Creative Expo.

Work by Joan, who describes her output as ‘Happy Art’, is being displayed in the centre this month – check it out…

Chasing – and more

Welcome to August!  It may be a time for holidays, but, here at the library, it is also one of our busiest periods, with adults and children in and out every day.

In this post we have summaries of – the big summer kids’ reading-project, our ‘introduction to e-books’ sessions, a quick look at the centre’s finances, and the five children’s books every adult should read….

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Space chase

Children will love our summer ‘Space Chase’ reading project. It celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, which is sure to inspire.
The project is quite straightforward… just sign up with us, and then help the kids to read any six library books over the summer. For each book completed there are space themed rewards – stickers for a collector’s wallet, and more (see pic below)!Space Chase logoBy the way, to tie in with this project, we have a special science-based kids’ event later in the month – the ‘Space Chase Science Experiments’ (see our What’s On page for details). This is going to be popular, so be sure to book early for it.

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Money money money

We had our Annual General Meeting a few weeks ago and, among other things, had a chance to see how the finances are going. Finances are very important of course, because community libraries like Blythe have to make their own money … or go under.

The outlook is: not bad. Up to August 2017, the ‘extra’ income we generated was just over £500 a month. (‘Extra’ income is what is over & above ordinary library services, so it is stuff like ticket-sales, refreshments, donations and so on).
But in the 12-months up to August 2018, that nearly doubled, to £900 a month!

Of course, it is not yet enough. Those figures are not ‘profit’; and the charity which sustains us, the ‘Care & Fun Charity’, had to underwrite some costs.
But, it shows we are heading in the right direction. With your help we will try to keep this library afloat for years to come.

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Get e-booked!

For many of our readers, e-books are now a way of life. Using their library account, they download books and magazines to their computers (or smart-phones or tablets) and read on there. They don’t use hardbacks hardly at all!
But for someone new to e-reading the process can seem complicated at first – and we do recognise that.

So, our Helen is holding a few sessions on Mondays and Fridays this month explaining how it works, and showing everyone how the process might work on their own device, be it phone or computer.
It really is worth getting along if you can, as then e-reading will no longer be a mystery.
The sessions are free – just drop in.

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Children’s books for adults

Unless you read a lot to your children or grandchildren, the odds are you might not have read a ‘children’s book’ since your own childhood.
But – don’t ignore them! Some children’s books are classics in their own right.

WWTAre

Where The Wild Things Are (Sendak, Penguin)

The Guardian Newspaper’s book-pages say there are five children’s books every adult should try reading; one of them is ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak.
You might be surprised what the others are – find out what they are by clicking here. and then reserve them at our desk.

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Volunteers

This centre simply couldn’t keep running without volunteers, so it’s great when their hard work is recognised outside of this immediate area.

A few weeks ago, at a ceremony in Leek, Blythe picked up two awards.
One was for our wonderful Jo, in recognition of her personal achievements, and the second was for the team as a whole, for their contribution to the life of Blythe Bridge and surrounding districts. The awards were totally deserved (in our humble opinion!).

Volunteers do come and go of course, but we are very lucky that over half of the current team remain from 3 years ago when we opened. But we still need more… Can you help? Or do you know someone who might?
As well as library-desk staff (4hrs per week) and those who might be able to deliver books to the housebound, we are still also on the lookout for ‘specialist’ volunteers, such as :

  • People who could be IT ‘buddies’ (i.e. give general help with computers etc)
  • Someone to run a ‘Code Club’ for youngsters (perhaps an ex-IT teacher or an IT student?)
  • Community-minded folk who could sit on our Friends of Blythe Group.

Whatever your life-skill, we can find a place for you! For details e-mail Helen on careandfun@live.co.uk or pop in and have a chat.

(Talking of volunteers, we have just lost a good one – temporarily we hope – in Caroline, who has had to take an extended break due to ill health. We wish her well for a speedy return to her best.)

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Newsletter

In this brief post, we can barely touch on all the news from this Blythe Bridge Centre. So, in fact, the best way to get all the news is to sign up for the Blythe Newsletter. It has news in detail, book reviews by members, articles and even puzzles! And it’s free.
You can sign up to the newsletter by emailing blythebridge.library@staffordshire.gov.uk and requesting it, or complete a registration form at the library desk.
(PS there is no geographical restriction: we even have subscribers who live in Australia!)

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If  you’d like to make a comment, please use the feedback box further down this page.

If you would like an email once a month to alert you to the fact that we have just published our latest news page (like this one), please click on the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand side of this web-page and then write in your email address.
(Your address is always kept private and never notified to any third party)

Young poet needed

It’s July!  A month for poets, computer newbies, and book sales

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Young poet needed

Time is now running out for teenagers to apply to become the next Staffordshire ‘Young Poet Laureate’. You have only until Friday (July 12th) to make your interest known!
This is a fun post and basically means turning up at poetry events across the county, and writing poems – what could be better?

analog binder blank book

Time to start composing those poems

For a full description of what a Young Poet Laureate does, click here.   The role is only open to young people between 14 and 18.

As part of the application, which is really simple to fill out (believe us!), you have to submit two of your own poems, one of which must be about Staffordshire.
For a copy of the application form, click here.

Good luck…

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Books books books

Although this library is supported by the Staffordshire Library Service, it does have to raise its own funds to keep going. Without a healthy amount of self-funding, we would just have to close.
So, it’s heartening to see how much the community of this district responds to money-raising events – thank you!!

One way that local people have been helping is by donating books, which we can then sell on. In fact donations of books are so great at the moment, we barely know where to put them all – but, nevertheless, they are all gratefully received.

Blythe Bridge Library summer book sale

Blythe Bridge Library summer book sale

Right now, there is a Summer Book Sale on, with hardbacks at £1 and paperbacks at 50p, so you really can’t go wrong if you visit us to purchase some summer reading for yourself.

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Full up…

It is really terrific news that our new computers-for-beginners course has got off to a flying start – in fact all places were filled, and some very quickly indeed.

However, we are aware that some people, i.e. those who didn’t get a place, will be very disappointed – so there will be a second course in September (cross fingers!).
It’s worthwhile applying soon if you think you’ll be able to attend – so the lovely volunteers at the desk are ready to take your reservation now.

Just to remind you what the course comprises of:
The course is in association with Leek College, with funding from the County Adult Education unit.
It is a FREE 5-session weekly course in: understanding email and Google; understanding online scams; how to use Word (i.e. shortcuts, copy & paste, changing layouts, and how to format documents); how to make spreadsheets (for budgets etc); ‘PowerPoint’, i.e. how to create a presentation; and file organisation (i.e. making folders, filing & saving, saving images).

You don’t even need a computer to come along, as we will supply one!

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If  you’d like to make a comment, please use the feedback box further down this page.

If you would like an email once a month to alert you to the fact that we have just published our latest news page (like this one), please click on the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand side of this web-page and then write in your email address.
(Your address is always kept private and never notified to any third party)