Friends of books

Welcome to Spring!

Lovely New Stock

At last we have finished renewing and updating our shelves, as we revive our stock with over 700 new titles. We have now even more reading matter, across all subjects, and in most genres.
But it was a surprise, even to us, to find how many books we have.
The stock-take revealed:
• 3700 Adult Fiction books
• 1900 Adult Non Fiction books
• 900 Young Adult Fiction books
• 2000 Children’s Fiction books
• 700 Young Non Fiction & homework-help books


So we’re now sure we must have a book or two for everyone, with having these 12,000 on our stock-list.
Cover of A Time Of Love & Tartan book(Incidentally, one of the new books we’re already loving is A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith – magic).

What’s more, we have access to thousands of other titles using the resources of other libraries across the county.
If we don’t have it here at Blythe, we just ask our fellow Staffordshire libraries for it, and will get it to you via them…

Use it or Lose it? — No, Shape it!    Become a Friend

In today’s fight for sustainability, services are constantly being reassessed. (Don’t worry, your library is not at risk; in fact we are looking towards a long future).

However, we do have to be mindful of our services, especially those that require a small charge to be delivered.
To help us along, we would like to encourage a Friends of Blythe-Centre Group, to help shape some of our activity provision.
It is expected the members would meet monthly (initially) and talk to our users. You do not have to be registered as a volunteer (unless you run an activity yourself). This is a chance to influence the main committee with regard to community needs.

Interested? Email Helen on our charity’s email: Come and be part of something special.

“Frank-ly, my dear…”

TMidlands Air Ambulance logohinking of charity, we have been contacted by Midlands Air Ambulance to ask if we could help them raise some much needed finances – by acting as a donation-point for used stamps.

Of course, we said yes!

We are pleased to offer this support; and urge you to help us make as much of a difference as possible by bringing along any old stamps  you have and donating them.

On behalf of the Air Ambulance we thank you in advance for your support.

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Battle in the library!

Welcome once again to our monthly update of news from Blythe Library Centre. As usual, there is so much going on, we could really do with a lot more space – but, at least we will give you the highlights.
(For a full list of what’s on over the next few weeks at the centre, please click on our events page).

Battle of Britain in the library

First, we’re all looking forward to the return of professional actor Nicholas Collett. His one-man show as Shakespeare was truly one of the outstanding events at the library last year.

Spitfire Solo posterNicholas returns this year with another one-man show, in which he plays a retired World War Two pilot re-living his memories of the conflict.
But, as well as remembering the heroism and the losses, and the camaraderie and the love of the times, there is a twist. Our man also slowly realises he has some unfinished business… and he must find the resilience to do what must be done.

The power of one-man theatre is its intimacy and the way it can take us on flights of imagination. So, blending all that with music and film and fabulous acting as Nicholas does, this production, of ‘Spitfire Solo’, is definitely well worth the admission price!

The show takes place in the evening of Saturday, 27th April (doors open 7pm). We recommend this show for adults and older children (11+).
Don’t forget that you can buy tickets (cost £10) online through TicketSource, as well as at our desk…

Children’s vote

Reading is so important for young people. Those who miss out will face great difficulties in later life, so anything to keep youngsters interested is worth its weight in gold.
Staffordshire’s ‘Young Teen Fiction Book Award 2019’ is a project aimed at encouraging KS3 pupils (age 11-14) to vote for one of six books as a favourite of theirs.
The six books are not just popular titles, they are extremely well-written too, so they are a treat to read!

They are: * The Buried Crown by Ally Sherrick; * The Boy Who Lied by Kim Slater; * The Colour of the Sun by David Almond ; * All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis* My Box Shaped Heart by Rachael Lucas; * The Erth Dragons New Age by Chris D’Lacy.

Children have until almost the end of June to vote online, so there is plenty of time.
We should have most of these titles in stock, but, if not, we’ll be happy to order them in for you, free of charge. Just ask at the desk – or reserve them through your own personal library account online.


Once again, the dreaded Easter holidays are almost upon us. Parents, we sympathise!Crafts case at Blythe Bridge LibraryHowever, don’t forget our ‘crafts’ case (see pic above).
Every hour that we are open, parents and/or guardians can drop in and use the contents of the case to keep their little ones happy and amused. We provide the space and the table, you provide the kids!

Available are activities such as painting a mug or money box; designing the look of key-rings and masks; making up fabrics into hand puppets etc; or just using your imagination with a Rubik’s cube or biff-bat. And more…
The activity is free, but you need to pay for the materials (which you can then walk away with) – costs range from 50p to £2.50.


Finally, congratulations to our friends – the volunteers of The Cheadle Community Information and Resource Group – who have now taken over the running of Cheadle Library.

Staffordshire County Council has slowly been putting most of its branch libraries under community supervision. In fact, we here at Blythe went ‘community-managed’ some years ago (see The Story of Blythe Centre); and now, as was expected, Cheadle also is being run by volunteers.
This means that volunteer libraries are now in the majority in this county.

It’s a good reminder that, without volunteers, most libraries would close.
So, please, if you have a few hours a week, why not think about spending them with us? We are a very friendly bunch, honest.
For more details, just click on our Get Involved page, or enquire at the desk, or email You won’t regret it.

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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)

Reading, art & jobs advice

Hope you are all looking forward to Spring. It’s amazing how fast everything warms up each year – already the snowdrops are fading and the daffodils are pushing through!
In this post we mention: our most popular book; affordable art; the archives group; and the weekly careers service session.

Life, Death & Vanilla Slices

Many of us know Jenny Éclair from her appearances on television in ‘Grumpy Old Women’ and ‘Loose Women’. She can be laugh-out-loud funny in what she says.
But she is also a writer, with three successful books under her belt.

Jenny Eclair

Jenny Eclair

Her books certainly appeal to readers at Blythe Centre.
Her 2012 novel ‘Life, Death and Vanilla Slices’ is far-and-away the book that has been borrowed the most lately.

The interesting thing is that it is not a ‘funny’ book as such (though there are some very funny moments) but a dark, honest and heart-wrenching story about family secrets that are kept hidden (for a good reason).

The book review website GoodReads gives it an amazing 4.2 stars out of five, which just shows our readers know what they’re doing!

Art for everyone

The recent exhibition at the centre of paintings by local artist Pat Bradshaw has shown that good art is pretty much available to all.
It was a pleasure to spend an hour just studying Pat’s pictures; and then quite a surprise to realise how affordable they are – with prices starting as low as £30 and never being much more than £50.

Pat Bradshaw paintings

Pat Bradshaw paintings

The reason for the inexpensive prices is that many local artists – some of whom are very talented indeed – would rather that their works went to a good home than have an expensive price-tag attached to them and never get sold.

The centre’s art-wall is a very popular point of exposure for many local artists and crafters – so it gets booked up quite heavily, especially as it costs just £15 a month to hire. However, ask at the desk if you are interested in a slot too.

Advice for workers

It was quite a coup for us to get the The Careers Service to put on a monthly session at the centre. Not all libraries are so fortunate.

National Careers Service at Blythe posterHowever, the advisors can counsel visitors on more than just what vacancies are around.  In fact, most of the work they do is actually in supporting people.

They have specialist skills in supporting older people look for work (it’s not just for kids!); and for single parents too, with advice on how to get good child-care and still be able to work at the same time. Similarly for anyone with special educational needs or disability.
One area of need that seems to be cropping up more and more is support for those who are actually still in work but face the real possibility of redundancy. Advisors can show them how they can claim time to look for work…
Beyond that is the kind of help so many of us need: like, how to write a good CV.
And… do you feel you lack enough skills for the job market? Well, IT and digital training is another part of the service.

Whatever question you have will be dealt with sympathetically and in confidence – even those sensitive ones like ‘must I reveal any previous criminal convictions?’. Getting the answer right to simple questions like that can often be the key to getting and holding down a job.

The session is an open one and is held once a week on Friday mornings. If you want a private interview, just ask, and a room will be found.

Busy busy

If you ever come in on Monday evening (when we are open until 7pm), you’ll notice a busy group of people in one corner surrounded by storage boxes.
This is the ‘Blythe Colour Works Archive group’; and they are busy sifting through all the material left behind when the famous Blythe Colour Works finally closed down its Cresswell factory a number of years ago. They identify and label what they find.

Here at Blythe Centre, we agreed to store the archive – about thirty boxes worth of stuff, from enamels to documents – so that it could have a local home.

Blythe Centre Colours Archive

Blythe Centre Colours Archive is held in both filing cabinets and boxes

The group is led by Ivan Wozniak (many of us will know him through his work with the Cheadle History Group), who himself was employed at the Colour Works for many years. So he knows what he’s doing…!
One of those working alongside Ivan is our very own Gill Crowther, who volunteers at the library five hours a week. Gill also was employed at the Colour Works for many years.
If you want to help with the  – and you don’t have to know anything about colour processes! – just have a chat with Gill next time you see her.

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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)

Santa’s little helpers

Guess who’s coming along?

Ready for Xmas? Well, we are; and Santa (who knows everything) will be paying us a visit cos we’ve been good!

Photo of Santa by bruce mars from Pexels.comYes, the Blythe Centre’s Christmas Fair (on Saturday December 8th) will feature the very Father Claus as our special guest, and you are all invited (especially children).
See you then, we hope.

On a serious note though… fairs at the centre, like this one, really do contribute, not just to the good feelings here, but to the centre’s very existence. The fact is that all proceeds from this Christmas Fair will go towards the running and long-term sustainability of operating the Library & Centre.
So… you will be welcome on Saturday in more ways than one…

Helen the radio star

One thing that Santa definitely is aware of is that this library-centre only exists because members of the local community not only want it to be here, and use it, but because they get involved to ensure it keeps running.
Blythe is a community-managed library, so it could not be here without residents’ positive support.

Helen Bickerton, who is the chairperson of the centre, was recently on BBC Radio Stoke to champion libraries and their potential. And it seems it have worked – as, apparently, some people who heard the broadcast were so enthused by what they heard that they decided to ‘step over the threshold’ and see what their local library had to offer.
Well done Helen…

Never be afraid of your computer again…

And – just to prove the point – welcome to community member Steve Hanley, who has offered to run a monthly session to help beginners cope with their computers.
Steve works for the National Careers Service, and he knows from his experience of that work that anyone who wants to get on in modern life needs to be confident with computers.

Photo by bruce mars on of woman using her laptop

Steve is offering to support people’s efforts with IT – his first session will be in January (see our Events Page for dates), but … places will be limited, so please put your name down with library reception staff to say you are coming along.

Incidentally, Steve’s methodology follows an accredited learning programme, so you can expect to progress quickly.
More advanced users are welcome to apply too, and Steve will see what he can offer you.

PS … there is lots more about what’s happening at the centre in our monthly newsletter. If you haven’t yet picked up your copy from the centre, here’s an online version of it: Blythe Newsletter Dec 2018 (opens as PDF)

And finally…

Whereever you are on December 25th, best wishes from all of us at the Blythe Centre, and remember to have…


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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)

Armistice remembrance

Unsurprisingly this month’s post is dominated by one event – the 100th Anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, the day when peace came to the world again and the terrible Great War finally came to its end.
Here at the centre over the last few weeks, everybody has been involved one way or another with the remembrance of that 1914-18 conflict, whether supporting commemorative initiatives or directly taking part.

This week especially we’ll be holding our breath to see what happens to the marvellous commemorative quilt (see pic, below) designed and made here by the centre’s Quilting Group. It has been donated to the British Legion West Midlands Branch, and is being auctioned for charity.
Remembrance quilt made b the Quilting Group
There were hopes that it would go on display at a local art gallery first, but in fact it was whisked off fairly quickly to Warwick, where it will feature in the Midlands Poppy Ball on November 2nd.

The British Legion rep in Stafford, Annmarie Jones, was delighted when she saw it, and she’s convinced it will raise a lot of money for the Legion.
Well done one and all…


Naturally, the volunteers felt there had to be a display to mark this significant event, especially bearing in mind that so many local young people died tragically all those years ago in that brutal war.

So, visitors will have noticed our display at the entrance to the library – featuring the some of the knitted poppies which have so seized the imagination of local people.

Blythe Centre poppy Remembrance display

Blythe Centre poppy Remembrance display

Talking of poppies, we’d be very happy to welcome YOU here, if you can make it, on Thursday 1st November, when Levison Wood is organising a PIN A POPPY session (between 3.00pm to 4.30).
Lev needs your help to pin 3000 poppies (all made by local knitters!) onto netting. The resulting artwork will produce a marvellous effect, falling like a veil, when it is hung a few days later from the Calvary Cross at St. Peter’s.
Everyone of all ages is welcome to come and help. And, don’t forget, we have a drinks machine here – so no one need go thirsty while they’re working.

Centenary play

Finally, especially for those who love theatre & music, there is a major production here on the evening of Wednesday 14 Nov.

‘Crossings’ is a play that has been written to be used as part of Staffordshire’s ‘Live & Local‘ First World War Centenary Project.
It’s a sombre but fascinating performance – half set in 1919, half set in the modern-day. It tells the story of Margaret and Grace, and their memories of Margaret’s brother who died in the Great War. Their lives are strangely reflected in the modern-day second act, in which we meet Mirjana who has escaped the Balkans War.
Combining powerful storytelling, live music and a waltz or two, this beautifully crafted play will make for a memorable evening.
As usual, you can book online, or just buy advance tickets at the library desk.
For details of all other events at the library centre, please check our Activities & Events page.

Libraries are good for you!

It must be October because the annual Libraries Week is already upon us.
This year the event focuses on wellbeing, showcasing the way in which going to a library is actually good for us and our mental health.

Libraries_week_2018Yes, it’s true – scientists say so. Apparently, research shows that library users have higher life satisfaction, happiness and sense of purpose in life compared to non-users. So now you know why you feel so good every time you come in!

A deeper focus for this theme is how we can all understand and manage our health & wellbeing, by using some recommended self-help books. These books are free to request and borrow at Blythe. The scheme is endorsed by health professionals.
There are currently four book lists available: Reading Well for mental health; Reading Well for dementia; Reading Well for young people; and Reading Well for long term conditions.
If the books are not immediately in stock, our volunteer staff will help you to reserve them.

Changes Wellness Prog-logo

And don’t forget… that every Tuesday this month, anyone can attend (no booking necessary) a ‘Changes’ session. Changes is a mutual-support group for anyone feeling a bit under mental strain in their daily lives. It’s a confidential, professional, closed session, and a chance just to talk.
Sessions take place after the library has closed to the general public, but someone will be there to open the door to you…

Lots to do!

As usual at Blythe Centre, there’s always a full list of things to do (check the events page for details).
Especially, please don’t forget the Autumn Fair on Saturday October 6th and the Book Sale on the 13th: as well as being fun events, they raise money to keep the library going…

Also, bookings are open now for our next theatre event.
For this, we are welcoming a joint production from Pentabus Theatre and New Perspectives Theatre, a play to mark the centenary of the end of World War.
Crossings promotional posterIt’s set in a village hall.
The first action takes place in 1919, just after the Great War has come to an end. Here Margaret comes face to face with Grace, who knew Margaret’s brother in the war. Through this chance meeting their two lives collide.
But then the plot fasts forward to 2019. In the same the village hall we meet Mirjana, a carer who is originally from Sarajevo, having escaped the recent civil war there.
With live music, waltzing and unexpected connections, the two actors will dance you through a century of turmoil, exploring how we return, resettle and adapt.

‘Crossings’ comes to Blythe Centre on the evening of Wednesday 14 November – click for details of how to book tickets online.  You can also buy tickets at the library desk.


We are also happy to be selling tickets for the Forsbrook School Fireworks Spectacular in November. Tickets are £5 per person (even for children) – though concessions are available for a family ticket.
Just ask at the desk.

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Preparations for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day – the day peace came to Europe after four years of horrifying fighting – are well advanced all over the country.
The weekend of November 11th will see many commemorative events – and we are pleased to say that the users & staff here at Blythe Centre are playing their part.

The local Thousand-Poppies project was started by one of our own volunteers; a beautiful WWI Remembrance quilt has been created by the knitters who meet here; the local Rotary is holding a commemoration evening here; and today we are also announcing a new poppy project that anyone can take part in.

1000 Poppies

Well done to Gill Crowther who came up with the lovely idea of knitting red poppies for the 100th anniversary.
Knitted poppies made by Hayley PrimeGill, who volunteers here on a Thursday (and other times!), is also treasurer of the Blythe & District History Society; and the library and the society and local residents have enthusiastically picked up on her idea, so much so that the 1000 mark has already been reached!
Lev Wood, the well-known secretary of the history society, has been driving the project along, and he is very pleased with progress. He has asked people not to stop knitting though: he’s aiming for a display locally that he hopes will be truly moving, and so, the more poppies the better.

(You can get instructions on how to knit the poppies from Rachael Moore at the Sizzatrix hair salon, near the Co-op – which is just what Hayley Prime did – see her poppies in the pic. The deadline for completed poppies is Sept 30th.).

Staffordshire remembers
Not everyone can knit of course, so the Libraries service has come up with a way for all of us to join in.
You still make poppies, but these poppies are to be made of cut-ups of newspaper or card. The idea is to use something personal into the making – like, say, one’s old letters or even old photos or old newspaper clippings – to make the poppy special. See ‘Staffordshire Remembers’ for details.

These poppies have to be made to a particular shape and size – so please use the template. Even children can make these, so Staffordshire is expecting tens of thousands to be created.
When you have made your poppy, hand it in here at Blythe Library Centre, where it will be carefully packed and sent to Stafford – where it will form part of a giant display in November.

Quilt of remembrance

Well done too to our Quilting Group.

Quilting group at Blythe Centre
The group (see pic above) is very successful, with over a dozen members usually at the Thursday sessions, so it was no surprise when they were asked to create a quilt on the theme of Remembrance. Each member did a section, as is the way with quilts, and it was completed a couple of weeks ago.
Right now, demand for it is high that it has already been taken for display in Stoke, but we do hope one day to have it on display in the centre too.
In next month’s edition of this web-bulletin, we will have photos of it too.

Tribute evening

Blythe Rotary Club have organised an evening here on Wednesday 26th Sept to remember the role of the ordinary soldier in war.
In particular, the evening will remember the Blythe Bridge man whose bravery in WW1 was so commended that he was awarded the Victoria Cross – Private Ernest Egerton.  An account of the role of the North Staffs Regiment in the conflict will also be outlined.
The modern soldier is not forgotten – with a talk on life in the Royal Marines.
However, it is not just talking – music by the Penkhull Brass Band, including a Last Post ceremony – is also taking place.

As you’d expect, tickets (£7) are going fast, so please call in to the centre if you want to be sure of getting one.

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