This bulletin provides news from libraries in and around the city with some highlights of what’s been going on throughout the month. So much has been happening to serve our residents and visitors, and meet the needs of the people and the communities of Manchester.

Chinese New Year at Central Library

Central Library had an amazing attendance to their ever-popular Chinese New Year celebration event. To start with there was the amazing opening by the lion dancers who performed outside the library and then brought everyone inside when the library opened. Amazing music and dance performances took place by the young people in the Confucius Institute and also the famous Chinese tea ceremony. Various crafts were on offer for families who were enjoying the whole Chinese New Year experience and were immersed in everything which was happening. There were the fantastic face painters producing stunning artwork, all of which helped create lasting memories of the day for families. It was lovely to meet new visitors to the city as well as people who come every year or every week. The new visitors were so impressed with the event and the library itself and we look forward to seeing them again. Attendance was nearly 4,500 people. Feedback included:

“Thank you for hosting such a wonderful CNY crafts table. It was great to see the children being creative and engaging with the materials. We are so lucky to have such a great resource in Manchester.”

“We love coming here after the parade. The kids have so much fun!”

The Bread and Butter Thing at Withington Library

Volunteers with a large collection of food bags

The Bread and Butter Thing mobile food club helps to make life more affordable for people on low incomes. The mobile food club also helps to reduce food waste, and for a low-cost people can get a bag containing fresh fruit, vegetables, fridge favourites and cupboard stables. Volunteers make food bags for around 70-80 people a week at Withington library, and the other local hub is at St. Ambrose Primary School. New enquiries are received each week and most weeks they are oversubscribed. Volunteers say they feel it is a really worthwhile cause, and that it makes them think about their own food waste. Recipients of the food bags are really appreciative. The Bread and Butter Thing also now operates weekly from Gorton Library – in the new Gorton Hub, and also from Beswick Library.

Digital Inclusion – 2022 Replay

We want to celebrate the achievements of Manchester and residents like you, by highlighting the strides we’ve all taken in becoming a digitally confident city. In the past year alone, we’ve provided over 700 people with internet access, with over 500 of those accessing our free sim card offer (check in with your local library to grab one today!). We’ve also helped over 950 people get access to a phone, tablet or laptop. Community Computers have been integral to this, assisting with a low-cost device project.

Our team has been active throughout Manchester, aiding at 22 events and talking to over 581 digitally excluded residents directly. We are now supporting residents who need to apply for Voter Authentication Certificate to be able to vote in May’s elections. The digital inclusion team offer telephone support (if the customer texts us on 07860064128) and each library offers a weekly session where we can support residents with the online form, including taking their photograph.

‘How We Belong’ at Longsight Library

Lady sat at a desk drawing

Longsight Library hosted an exhibition and workshop called “How We Belong”, a project delivered by Odd Arts. The project explored themes of identity, community and belonging through Theatre, Art & Creative Writing. Participants joined from multiple and diverse backgrounds, including people who were born and bred Mancunians, to people who have settled from Syria and Nigeria, to recent refugee and asylum seekers from Iran, Palestine and Kuwait. The aim of the project was to provide a platform for story-telling about personal experiences. Therefore to enable people to celebrate not only their similarities but their differences in their identities, by acknowledging and accepting everyone for who they are, and celebrating all the nuances.

Participants explored the notion of belonging and what helps us to put down roots, what makes us feel welcome if we are coming from another country, seeking asylum, what lived experiences shape us, and what are our hopes for the future. This was part of a parallel project that took place at Manchester Jewish Museum, RADEQUAL funded, with aims of uniting residents across the city in tackling prejudice, hate and extremism.

Read Manchester Christmas Book Gifting

This year’s Festive Book Gifting campaign was a huge success and is now a well-established part of our year-round book gifting programme. We work with community groups, (foodbanks, community grocers, youth providers, Parks) who then gifted books to the vulnerable families that they work with. Knowing that the cost-of-living crisis would make this Christmas even more difficult for parents to buy books for their children, we have been keener than ever to ensure we work with the right groups for those most in need. In total we have gifted over 9,400 books to community groups this Christmas and 400 to groups providing holiday and activities and food (HAF), a grand total of nearly 10,000 books.

Feedback from Rainbow Surprise, Foodbank:

“The books were handed out at their Christmas play scheme, attended by over 80 different children aged 6-12 years old”.

“I love my new books I like reading them with my dad”

“These books are amazing I can never afford to buy books for my children”.

Read more at our Manchester Libraries blog!

Family Film Club at Central Library

Family Film Club in January screened Kung Fu Panda 2 for Chinese New Year. Families took part in themed crafts making mobiles, lanterns, key rings and bookmarks. We were joined by our regular members and new families also joined in, including a local Ukrainian family who created this amazing dragon in the Ukrainian colours! This session was very popular, with lot’s of families enjoying doing something together which is free. 

Heartstone Odyssey Project

Drawing of a mouse within two hands

Library staff have started to work on the Heartstone project with Pioneer House special school. The aim of the project is to use the Heartstone Odyssey book by Arvan Kumar as a tool to explore issues such as racial hatred and prejudice. The young people are given the space to explore and discuss how they feel about different issues and then decide how to express this as an art form. So far the group have created Mouse Ports inspired by the characters in the book, they have created story boxes creating scenes from a chapter in the book and at the end of the project their work will be submitted to an exhibition.

Chinese New Year Crafts at North City Library

Hello Saturday Art Clubs and Lego Clubs for kids continue most Saturdays at North City Library, Avenue Library and Beswick Library so it’s great to have regular activities for local families to join in with! Chinese New Year celebrations were a special focus as children enjoyed various craft activities such as making a Chinese dancing dragon, lion puppets, or Chinese lanterns.

Roma Community Drop-in at Arcadia Library

Arcadia Library continues to host a busy Roma Community Drop-in. It provides free one-to-one advice sessions to European nationals in the local area. Europia offers a wide range of free support, information and activities for EU nationals across Greater Manchester. Arcadia Library sessions take place every Monday, 9:30am-3pm. Europia works with a number of communities in Greater Manchester, through wellbeing workshops, support groups and online/in-person events.

Veganuary Networking Lunch at the Business & IP Centre

People networking at the Business & IP Centre

January is Veganuary, so the Manchester Business & IP Centre team planned a special networking lunch so that attendees could meet successful Manchester vegan business owners! Inspiring conversations took place with ‘Herbivorous’, an independent Vegan street food business serving up delicious vegan comfort food in Manchester & festivals nationwide, ‘Devil Dog Sauces’, the most flavoursome handmade, vegan chilli sauces out there! Representing sweet treats was ‘Leafy Creams’ who are an independent bakery serving delicious, plant-based bakes across the northwest of England, and ‘Ditto Bakes’, who make the same fudgy brownies you love, just vegan! 

Dinosaur Story and Crafts at Brooklands Library

Brooklands Library staff and local artist Mandy Cleveland delivered a fun story time and craft event. Mandy told the story of ‘The Dinosaur that pooped Christmas’, which everyone enjoyed and found very funny. Children then used their imagination and creativity to make brilliant dinosaur eggs and dinosaur heads! Attendees were also gifted some lovely dinosaur toys! One little boy with his grandmother was very impressed, he said “Dinosaurs are my favourite thing ever”

Exploring Film Archives at North City Library

North City Library has a very popular Age Friendly social group, A Grand Day Out, which meets weekly. Following the Christmas break and in mid-January everyone enjoyed an entertaining digital activity where they could try out the British Film Institute Replay app on our public library computers. The group members commented how much they enjoyed it, it was really simple to operate and find fascinating clips from 1940s to early 2000s. Most of all, library staff and attendees were struck by how much our knowledge and ideas have informed our progress in modern life in all areas from education to families, work and society.

Streets of Our City Exhibition at Central Library

Archive photograph of a Manchester street

The Town Hall Photographers’ Collection is a large photographic collection held in Archives+ Central Library, ranging in date from 1956 to 2007. The collection consists of tens of thousands of images, covering the various areas of work of Manchester Corporation and latterly, Manchester City Council. A team of dedicated staff, volunteers and students from Bridge College, Loreto College, Manchester College and Pure Innovations are currently working on the systematic digitisation of the negatives held within the collection. This exhibition will be displayed until the 18th March 2023 and represents the result of their work to date.