Ghosts and ghouls expected at libraries this summer

Did you know that 25% of the UK population claims to have had a ghostly encounter? There’s a good chance that number will increase during this year’s spooky Summer Reading Challenge!

The national Summer Reading Challenge encourages children aged 4 to 11 to read books during the summer holidays. This year enter the Creepy House to meet some hair-raising residents like Headless Harry and Frankenmouse!

If children read six books and visit the library at least three times over the summer holidays they can receive Creepy House stickers and a certificate. Ask at your local library for details.


Children’s author of the month – Oliver Jeffers

This month, Kay, a library assistant at City Library, recommends author Oliver Jeffers as the children’s author of the month for June. Over to Kay to explain why!

”Who says picture books are just for kids? Oliver Jeffers is an exceptional author and illustrator who writes about big themes like identity, friendship, love and loss. I admire his books as he encourages the adult and child reading to think deep and out of the box, yet his style and tone is simplistic and jokey.’

”My particular favourite is ‘The Great Paper Caper’ because it is an unusual picture book. As the blurb says, ‘A thrilling tale of mystery, crime, alibis, paper planes and a BEAR who wanted to win.’ It prompted a six year old to ask ‘what is a prosecutor and alibi?’ The dictionary further complicated matters!’

”Jeffers’ illustrations are detailed and fun, and deserve careful exploration. His books have lead him to win many awards, including New York Times Bestseller, and an Honour Award from Children’s Book Ireland for ‘This Moose Belongs to Me’ in May 2013.’

”I challenge adults and older children to read the unique ‘The Heart and the Bottle’ to question its content and message as a ‘children’s book’. Picture books are for everyone – certainly if they are this good.’

View Oliver Jeffers’ books and reserve online.


5 mind-bogglingly intricate paper sculptures

If there’s one thing you’ll find in our libraries it’s paper, tonnes of the stuff. But take a look at the beautiful paper sculptures below and you’ll realise there’s more to this versatile medium than you think.

Edinburgh’s mysterious paper artist

On 2 March 2011 a paper sculpture of a tree (how ironic!) was left on a table in the Scottish Poetry Library. That was the first of 11 sculptures anonymously left at museums, libraries and bookshops in Edinburgh. Most had a note attached and included the words, ‘A gift in support of libraries, books, works, ideas…’ The sculptures captured imaginations across the world, and even went on tour in libraries across Scotland last year. The artist remains unknown to this day!

The 'poetree'

The 'poetree'

Brian Dettmer’s carved books

One day Brian decided to cut into a book with a craft knife…please don’t do this to our library books! But please do enjoy the stunning designs he has created by carving into the pages of old books to reveal new relationships between illustrations and text.

A book sculpture by Brian Dettmer

A book sculpture by Brian Dettmer

Eric Standley’s multi-layered paper sculptures

Eric Standley uses a laser to cut intricate designs into pieces of card which he then layers to create stunning works of art. The piece below is from his ‘Either/Or Decreed’ collection and measures 18 inches square. We think this one looks like a stained glass window, overgrown with a mass of spindly roots.

Close up detail of sculpture

Close up detail of sculpture

Laser cut sculpture by Eric Standley

Michael Hansmeyer’s paper columns

Zurich-based artist Michael Hansmeyer is a ‘computational architect’ who produces incredibly complex columns from 1mm thick card cut to precision by lasers. He builds up the detailed columns in layers – the example below has around 15 million facets on its surface. Incredible.

Paper column by Michael Hansmeyer

Paper column by Michael Hansmeyer

Ingrid Siliakus’ pop-up cityscapes

Dutch artist Ingrid Siliakus makes 3D cities from single sheets of paper. Her designs are so detailed that they include balconies, windows and even people. They’re based around a 90 degree fold, just like traditional pop-up books.

Pop-up cityscape

Night and day pop-up cityscape

Feeling inspired?

Take a look in the art and crafts books at your local library for ideas. For starters, try our books on origami!


Our Bookstart Bear Club for little readers

Just launched! The Bookstart Bear Club is a free membership scheme for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers (chldren aged 0-5 years). Children will receive a paw print stamp added to their own special passport each time they visit with you to return a book, attend a bookstart event or attend a story time at the library.  Once they have six stamps your child will receive a celebratory certificate. There are nine certificates to collect, including a special gold certificate once their passport is full.

Register your child with the Bookstart Bear Club today. Call into your local library to collect your child’s free membership pack.

Visit the Bookstart Bear Club website  to discover more about the magic of sharing stories, books and rhymes with your child.


World Book Night – the great book giveaway!

World Book Night is a celebration of reading during which thousands of passionate volunteers across the UK give out specially printed books in their communities to share their love of reading. We’re celebrating again this year with the events below, plus look out for book giving volunteers at locations across the city including Starbucks, Cafe De Vie and The Theatre Royal.

Denton Burn Library – 10:30am – 12noon
The free books being given out at Denton Burn Library are ‘The Secret Scripture’ by Sebastian Barry and ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’ by Tracy Chevalier. All are welcome for a coffee morning between 10.30am – 12noon with local author Graham Pears.

Moorside Library – 11am – 12noon
All are welcome for coffee and conversation. Copies of ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal’ by Jeanette Winterson will be given. 

City Library – 5pm – 8pm
Silver Belles will be singing in the Atrium of City Library from 5pm to kick start the night of free book giving. Then become a sleuth for the night in our special Murder Mystery event, written by author Ann Cleeves. Listen to witness statements and forensic reports to guess whodunit! After the confession is read, a prize will be awarded to the audience member closest to solving the murder. Copies of Ann’s books will be available to buy on the night. Book online for the Murder Mystery.

Please note that supplies of books are limited. You can also follow @WorldBookNight on Twitter or keep up to date using the #worldbooknight hashtag.


‘Spring’ into action and get online in 2013!

This year, Spring Online Week takes placed from 22 to 26 April 2013 so if you know someone who has never used the internet before or if you want to brush up your skills there’s no better time to go digital.

To celebrate Spring Online we’re running a number of ‘Silver Surfers’ drop-in sessions for the over 50s and ‘IT and Biscuits’ groups for complete beginners of all ages.

These sessions have proved hugely popular in the past with customers finding them ‘relaxed’, ‘enjoyable’ and ‘informative’. In fact, many people just keep coming back. One customer told us: ‘I’ve never used a computer before, now I want to learn more!’

So why not take the plunge and give it a try? Or, simply pop along and ask our friendly staff anything you want to know about the internet and getting online.

Silver Surfers for the over 50s

• Blakelaw Library, Tuesday 23 April 10am – 11.30am.
• City Library, Wednesday 24 April 2pm —5pm (1-2-1 sessions, 9x 1 hour sessions available – booking required).
• Moorside Library, Friday 26 April 10.30am – 12.30pm.

IT and Biscuits

• Gosforth Library, Tuesday 23 April 11am – 12noon.
• Walker Library, Thursday 25 April 2pm – 3pm.
• Kenton Library, Friday 26 April 11am-12noon.
• Jesmond Library, Friday 26 April 2pm – 3.30pm.

All sessions are completely free of charge.

For more information or to book for a sessions phone 0191 2774100 or email information@newcastle.gov.uk. Sessions at City Library can be booked online.


Newcastle University free lecture series

This month Professor Máire Cross will talk about the life of Flora Tristan (1803-44), a French socialist writer and one of the founders of modern feminism. Later in the month we’ll be joined by Dr Anne Whitehead to discuss Pat Barker’s novel ‘Life Class’ (2008), which charts an art students life-changing experiences following the outbreak of World War One. All the lectures and book discussions are free.


Flora Tristan with Professor Maire Cross
6 March, 5pm – 6pm
Book online

Forging New Limits: British Women Travellers in the Middle East 1894 – 1939 with Dr. Short
3 April, 5pm – 6pm
Book online

Gender and Domestic Space with Dr Jarvis
1 May, 5pm – 6pm
Book online 

Book discussions

Pat Barker’s ‘Life Class’ with Dr Anne Whitehead
20 March, 5pm – 6pm
Book online

Kate Mosse’s ‘Sepulchre’ with Katherine Cooper
17 April, 5pm – 6pm
Book online

Agatha Christie’s ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ with Dr Stacy Gillis
15 May, 5pm – 6pm
Book online


The Memory Box has been opened…

Over 65s got to grips with the previously unfamiliar world of technology to digitally record their memories using iPads. With the help of a digital storyteller their recollections were then enhanced by evocative photographs from Newcastle’s past. Here’s John’s memory of the installation of the Millennium Bridge over the Tyne.

My Day from The Memory Box on Vimeo.

More stories about Newcastle can be found on the Memory Box website. You can also download the Memory Box app from iTunes.

The Memory Box was produced by Flo-culture in partnership with Newcastle Libraries and Newcastle Adult Learning Services. The creation of the application by Flo-culture has been financed by the Skills Funding Agency through the Community Learning Innovation Fund managed by NIACE.


Coalfields and Quaysides at City Library

‘Writing North East: Coalfields and Quaysides’ is a new exhibition at City Library which explores the representation of place in North East literature. Unseen material from local authors, including David Almond and Linda France, will be showcased alongside literary jewels from the British Library. Members of the Skimstone Young Artist Collective have created ‘Bewick’s Ark’ especially for the exhibition. Share your views and favourite North East authors or locations on Twitter using #writingNE.

Visit on level 6 of City Library until 31 July 2013.

  In partnership with the British Library and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.


Do you remember the 1980s?

It was the decade of Margaret Thatcher, huge mobile phones, the ZX81 and Amstrad home computers. Were you into big hair, batwing sleeves and legwarmers? Did you have a BMX bike, a Cabbage Patch Doll or a Rubik’s Cube? Did you go to Tyne Tees to see The Tube? Can you remember you first trip on the Metro? Did you watch Kevin Keegan score goals at Newcastle United?

If you lived, worked or studied in Newcastle during the 1980s Tyne Bridge Publishing want to hear from you. After the runaway success of their books on the 50s, 60s, and 70s, they couldn’t ignore the requests to do the same for the 80s. They hope to publish ‘Sweet Dreams! 1980s Newcastle’ in Autumn 2013 but they need your help.

If you have a story or a photo from the 1980s please get in touch by emailing tynebridge@newcastle.gov.uk. We’re also interested in using copies of posters or concert tickets.

(Pic: Northumberland Street, 1980)


Family history at your fingertips

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Family history can become addictive and at Newcastle Libraries it’s also free!

You don’t need to sign up for expensive online websites. Visit any of our libraries and you can get immediate access to Ancestry and Find my Past. Both websites have access to a huge range of genealogical collections including births, marriages and deaths, census records, passenger lists and military records. Records are available from all over the world and they’re constantly being expanded. If you’ve never tried it before and would like some advice book a free internet taster session with one of our staff by phoning 0191 2774100.

You can also visit our heritage centre at the City Library to find more local and family history records. As well as being one of only seven regional centres for the GRO births deaths and marriages, we also hold other records including the adoption index and full indexes of overseas life events dating back to 1761.

You can also search the largest newspaper collection in the region, with 69 titles dating from 1710 to the present day. Or you might want to access newspapers online, including gems like the Police Gazette.

We also hold regional parish registers, census records and voters lists, maps, over 100,000 photographs and a huge collection of material about the history of the region.

Visit your local library and start searching!

Kath Cassidy
Heritage Service Manager


Unique historic photos of Newcastle online for the first time

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Step back in time and view nearly 1000 photographs from the newly digitised Lazlo Torday collection. The photographs show Newcastle during the 1960’s and 70’s and were originally bought by Newcastle Libraries from a local dealer in the 1980’s. Up until now the photographs have only been available to view in person by looking through the 100 albums or in the 16 boxes of colour transparencies held at City Library.

Laszlo Torday (1890-1975) was a Hungarian chemical engineer, who was also a keen and gifted amateur photographer. He arrived in Tynemouth in January 1940 and eventually moved to Jesmond. His photographs reflect his interest in the streets and people of Newcastle.

Kath Cassidy, City Libraries Heritage Manager, said: “The opportunity to digitise 1,000 images from the Torday Collection means that they can now be enjoyed by a much wider audience. The images provide a fascinating glimpse into the recent past, showing just how much has changed and what has remained the same. We’re keen to find out more about the people in the images. If you recognise anyone – please use the Flickr site to let us know.”

Visit the Torday Collection on Flickr.


Are you a ‘reel’ movie expert? ;)

If you know your Bond from your Brando, or your Star Wars from your Stargate come and flex your film knowledge at the Pick of the Flicks Movie Quiz at the City Library on Wednesday 19 December at 6pm. This special night for film buffs celebrates the release of the film ‘Life of Pi’ which is based on the fantasy novel by Yann Martel. Entry for a team of up to 6 people costs £10 (or £2 for individuals) including refreshments and prizes for the top team. Places are limited – book by phoning 0191 277 4100. (Sorry for the pun!)


Our interview with magical author Joseph Delaney

Earlier in the month author Joseph Delaney visited Newcastle Royal Grammar School and Kenton School along with staff from Newcastle Libraries. Joseph is a retired English teacher and an award winning author of the Spooks/Wardstone Chronicles. Both school visits were a great success with years 6 and 7 listening intently to his talk and presentation. 

His famous children’s books concern the adventures of Thomas Ward who is the Spooks apprentice.  Thomas must learn how to fight a number of dark monsters: witches, ghost and Boggarts to name but a few. A must read for both children and adults who are missing Harry Potter and his magical adventures!

His first book is currently being made into a film due out in October 2013 called ‘The Seventh Son’ starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore.

Listen to our interview with Joseph below.

Find Joseph Delaney books on the library catalogue.


Interview with Stitch Head creator Guy Bass


Children’s author Guy Bass introduced us to Stitch Head, the almost-human creation of Mad Professor Erasmus, during the recent Juice Festival. He began life locked away in Castle Grotteskew befriending the other creatures lurking there (that’s Stitch Head, not Guy…). 

Author Guy Bass had us all in stitches as we got a glimpse of his childhood hopes of being a superhero!  And pirates and professors competed at our Stitch Head event to be the best dressed characters, while budding artists and authors put their minds to poems, sea shanties and creatures creation. The event a City Library was a great success thanks to the children, mums, dads and grandparents and volunteers who came along. Well done to everyone who took part! 

Borrow Stitch Head books from Newcastle Libraries. 

Visit Guy Bass’ website.

To find out more about how and why Guy became children’s author listen to the interview with him below recorded with young volunteers Julia, Leah and Artum. 

We have regular crafts, story times and activities for children at all our libraries. To find out more phone 0191 2774100 or email information@newcastle.co.uk.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped at the Stitch Head event, especially our young volunteers from Juice and iScream and also to Lemington Riverside School who had done some fabulous work in preparation for Guy’s visit.