Libraries Newsletter

Additional library opening hours reminder
Don't forget that Blackburn Library and Darwen Library will increase their opening hours very soon.  From 9th May onwards, Blackburn Library will remain open on Saturdays until 4 pm (an increase of 2 hours per week), while Darwen Library will open from 10 am on Wednesdays (an increase of 3 hours per week).  Meanwhile, Cherry Tree Library has also gained an hour per week by staying open on Wednesdays and Fridays until 5 pm (previously 4.30 pm on both days).

All our libraries are vibrant community hubs and the extension of opening hours will allow more people to access these welcoming and engaging environments, whether for education, leisure, to meet new friends or just to spend some ‘me time’ in a welcoming and safe space.  We can't wait to welcome you through our doors, but if you can't physically make it, remember to ask about our home delivery service or check out our digital options too.

From 9th May, the full library opening hours will be:

Blackburn Central Library (tel: 01254 661221)
Mon: 10 am - 7 pm
Tue - Fri: 10 am - 5 pm
Sat: 10 am - 4 pm (new)

Darwen Library (tel: 01254 706021)
Mon: 10 am - 7 pm
Wed: (new) 10 am - 5 pm
Thu: 1 - 5 pm
Fri: 10 am - 5 pm
Sat: 10 am - 2 pm

Cherry Tree Library (tel: 01254 209442)
Mon: 2 - 4 .30 pm
Wed: 10 am - 12.30 pm & 2 - 5 pm (new)
Fri: 2 - 5 pm (new)
Sat: 10 am - 12.30 pm

Mill Hill Library (tel: 01254 266380)
Tue: 10 am - 12.30 pm & 1.30 - 4 pm
Wed - Fri: 10 am - 12.30 pm

Roman Road Library (tel: 01254 682347)
Mon: 5 - 7 pm
Tue: 9 am - 12 pm
Wed: 12 - 2 pm
Thu - Fri: 9 am - 12 pm

Bank holiday closures

In addition to the usual weekly opening hours, all libraries will be closed for the May Day bank holiday on Monday 2nd May, then in a change to the usual annual pattern, libraries will be open on Monday 30th May due to HM The Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations later in the week (see below)...

Gus Glynn at Cherry Tree Library

There's still time to get your tickets for Gus Glynn's Routes to Classics at Cherry Tree Library on 5th May.

Join classically trained fingerstyle guitarist Gus Glynn, as he traces the development of the music we love today from its roots in traditional folk and blues, right through to contemporary classics and all-time favourites. 

Journey through classic songs of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Mark Knopfler and Lou Reed.  Visit modern favourites from artists such as Amy Winehouse and Arctic Monkeys, all with a selection of pit stops along the way as Gus showcases his own songs.

A music lover's must, complete with original fingerstyle guitar arrangements of John Lennon and Turlough O'Carolan, 'Routes to Classics' is not to be missed.

Tickets cost £10 (£6 if under 18 years old) available from Cherry Tree Library, phone (01254) 661221, email or online at

For details of the rest of this season's Spot On programme, why not take a look at their website:  There's lots of really good stuff on there.

Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of HM Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne, Blackburn with Darwen libraries will be celebrating with a range of activities and events for all the family in the days leading up to the national festivities:
  • Saturday 28th May, 10 am - 2 pm, Jubilee family fun day at Darwen Library
  • Tuesday 31st May, Pendle Productions The Storytellers Theatre Co. presents 'Alice Through the Looking Glass', 10.30 - 11.30 am at Blackburn Central Library and 3 - 4 pm at Darwen Library.  Free tickets available from the relevant library up to 3 weeks before each performance.
  • Thursday 2nd June, bank holiday - all libraries closed
  • Friday 3rd June, bank holiday - all libraries closed
  • Saturday 4th June, 10 am - 4 pm, Jubilee family fun day at Blackburn Central Library

NB.  Darwen Library will also be taking part in a regional project called 'Jubilation', where library customers will be able to sit and talk/write/share their stories of jubilation with an artist.  These will be compiled into a book and eBook, both of which will later be available from the library.  Full details aren't available at the time of writing, but watch out for an update as soon as these are confirmed.
Big Jubilee Read

Staying on the subject of Jubilee celebrations, the Big Jubilee Read is a reading for pleasure campaign celebrating great reads from across the Commonwealth to coincide with Her Majesty The Queen's Jubilee.  An expert panel of librarians, booksellers and literature specialists has chosen seventy titles from a "readers' choice" longlist with ten books for each decade of HM The Queen's reign.  The list offers brilliant, beautiful and thrilling writing produced by authors from a wide range of Commonwealth countries over the last seventy years to engage all readers in the discovery and celebration of great books.

The Big Jubilee Read campaign will be delivered in partnership with BBC Arts and The Reading Agency.  It received funding from Arts Council England and is supported by Libraries Connected and the Booksellers Association.  The book list was formally launched on 17th April, and is available to view online here.

How many of the Big Jubilee Titles have you read?  Why not use this as an excuse to try something that you haven't read before?  You can send us a review for sharing in the newsletter, or online via Facebook or Twitter if you prefer.  Remember - there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to book reviews, it's the taking part that counts!

Superhero Saturday
Our neighbours on Town Hall Street at The Bat Cave are celebrating Free Comic Book Day on Saturday 14th May, and we'll be joining in the celebrations with free superhero themed activities for children from 2 - 3 pm that day.  Children must be accompanied by an adult at this session, and places are limited so please book in advance to be sure of getting a place.  You can book in Blackburn Library, phone (01254) 661221 or email

Catechism of PItts author to visit Blackburn Library

James Pitts VC MSM, photo copyright the Talbot Archive

We are delighted to welcome Clare Harper to talk about her new book The Catechism of PItts: A Hundred Years of an Irish Family in Blackburn Central Library on 19th May at 2 pm.

Initially, the main focus of Clare's family research was her great grandmother's first cousin, James Pitts VC MSM (Blackburn's first resident to be awarded the Victoria Cross), however in researching the Boer War years, Clare unearthed fascinating information which resulted in this published book.  The talk will cover the Pitts family in Blackburn, James Pitts VC and some surprising connections found along the way.

As someone who's worked professionally in South Africa for many years, Clare was well placed to discover more about the heroic endeavours of James Pitts, but her strong roots in Blackburn continue to this day as she returns to visit family who still live in the town.

Please join us to find out more about Clare's fascinating book and research.  Further details are available on the website  Admission will be by free ticket, available from the library.  To check availability, please phone 01254 661221 or email

Trips down memory lane

As well as our popular reminiscence sessions at Cherry Tree Library, we will soon be launching a new group at Blackburn Central Library on 27th April from 11 am - 12 pm.  All are welcome.  The group will meet in the Digital Health Hub (formerly known as The Curve, on the left as you go up the ramp from the entrance), and the first meeting will be a generic session about reminiscence.  All suggestions for themes of future sessions will be gratefully received.

Following this, the monthly meeting at Cherry Tree Library will take place on 4th May at 2 pm, and be an opportunity for people to talk about unusual objects.  If members have any old photos of May processions, they're encouraged to bring these along too.

Regular weekly events programme

Blackburn Central Library, tel: (01254) 661221
  • Mon, 2 - 4 pm, IT drop-in
  • Tue, 10.15 - 11.45 am, Tuesday Reading Group
  • Wed, 10 am - 12 pm, IT drop-in
  • Wed, 10.30 - 11 am, Read, Rhythm & Rhyme (term time only)
  • Wed, 1.30 - 3 pm, IT course (booking required, see schedule below)+
Darwen Library, tel: (01254) 706021
  • Mon, 10 am - 12 pm, Darwen Library Crafters
  • Mon, 5.45 - 6.45 pm, Darwen Library Reading Group (09/05 only)
  • Tue, 1.30 - 3 pm, Darwen Library Larks choir*
  • Wed, 2 - 2.30 pm, Story & rhyme time (term time only)
  • Fri, 10 am - 12 pm, IT drop-in
  • Fri, 10.30 - 11 am, Story & rhyme time (term time only)
  • Fri, 2 - 3.30 pm, IT course (booking required, see schedule below)+
  • Sat, 11 - 11.30 am, Stories, colouring and puzzles
* Darwen Library Larks meets in Darwen Library Theatre, £5 entry charge

Cherry Tree Library, tel: (01254) 209442
  • Mon, 2 - 3 pm, Brew time
  • Mon, 2 - 4 pm, IT drop-in (09/05 only)
  • Tue, 1.30 - 2.30 pm, Seated Tai Chi (book via Age UK)
  • Wed, 10.30 - 11 am, Story time
  • Wed, 11 am - 12 pm, Brew time
  • Wed, 2 - 3 pm, Reminiscence session (04/05 only)
  • Fri, 2 - 4 pm, Knit & Natter
Mill Hill Library, tel: (01254) 266380
  • Tue, 2 pm, Brew time
  • Wed, time TBC, Reading Group (04/05 only)
  • Thu, 11 - 11.30 am, Story time
  • Fri, 10.30 am - 12 pm, Craft & Chat
Roman Road Library, tel: (01254) 682347
  • Mon, 5 - 7 pm, Youth group
  • Wed, 12 - 2 pm, Craft group
  • Thu, 9.30 - 11.30 am, IT drop-in (26/05 only)
+ IT courses schedule (booking required)
  • Using the Internet: 04/05 (Blackburn), 06/05 (Darwen)
  • Transparent Language: 11/05 (Blackburn), 13/05 (Darwen)
  • Mouse & Keyboard: 18/05 (Blackburn), 20/05 (Darwen)
  • Introducing the Internet: 25/05 (Blackburn), 27/05 (Darwen)

Mystery History

Last month's picture was a view of the Easter Fair on a site which has long since disappeared underneath The Mall.  The view is looking in a North Westerly direction towards King William Street, with the old Market Hall building and clock in the background.  These were demolished when the shopping centre (now The Mall) was built, along with many of the other buildings in the photo, but the light grey building in the centre background still stands today.  It is on the other side of King William Street, and now houses Blackburn town centre's branch of the Halifax bank.

This month's photo has been sent in by one of our faithful library volunteers Ann Stokes, and was taken by her late father who seized the opportunity to take a picture of a much older road surface which was temporarily exposed during work to replace the more modern surface above.  Can you correctly identify where it was taken?  As usual, there are no prizes.  It's just for fun, but all will be revealed next month.

All Stories

A free mentorship and outreach programme for aspiring children’s book writers from underrepresented groups who are unable to pay for development opportunities, All Stories aims to tackle issues of privilege and the lack of diversity in children’s books.  Many of the debut authors being published today have been able to afford courses, mentoring or MAs to develop their work, greatly impacting the diversity of published authors.  It’s vital we encourage and support people from underrepresented groups to write for children in order to improve the diversity of authors and in turn ensure young readers see themselves reflected in the books they read.

In its second year, All Stories will evolve by focusing on middle grade and young adult writers; picture book and young fiction writers will be supported the following year.  The project will expand to offer in-person and online writing workshops and writing groups.

Arts Council England and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society are continuing their support of All Stories by fully funding the programme.

2022/2023 programme outline:

● All Stories will offer ten free mentorships to talented writers of middle grade and young adult fiction from underrepresented backgrounds who are unable to pay for such support.
● Each nine-month mentorship will be delivered by a freelance editor, while in-house editors and agents will present eight webinars to the mentees during the mentorship period.
● Applications will be invited from 8th April to 30th June 2022.  The mentorships will start in October 2022.  Only unagented, unpublished writers residing in the UK will be eligible.
● The mentees will receive a free year's membership to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.  They'll also be invited to join the online private All Stories community.
● In-person and online writing workshops will be offered to aspiring children’s book writers from underrepresented groups.  The in-person workshops will be piloted in libraries in Essex with a view to rolling these out across the UK in future years.
● All Stories will help to establish writing groups for the workshop attendees, encouraging them to commit to writing and develop a creative community.
Please note: Any opinions expressed in this newsletter are the contributor’s own and are not necessarily endorsed by Blackburn with Darwen Library and Information Services.

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