Black History Month

October is Black History Month and after a year which has seen the re-emergence of Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the globe and growing publicity and awareness around historic and current racial injustices, we have an abundance of works by black creators to share with you.

In the wake of the protests there were campaigns to get black authored works to number one in the best seller charts, social media was full of vibrant personal recommendations and there was a real surge towards hearing black voices and rectifying the white bias within the publishing industry. Many different groups and publications have published their own reading lists, highlighting a fertile field of exciting new black voices, as well as the amplification of amazing, established writers who for too long have been marginalised and lacked exposure. One example is Bernadine Evaristo, who gained a whole new audience for numerous and exceptional previous works, after being the first black woman to win the Booker prize in 2019. This year’s Booker prize shortlist is the most diverse in the prize’s history, with four out of six nominees being writers of colour. the weather turning more autumnal, why not join us in spending Black History Month and beyond exploring and celebrating the growing range of books, eBooks and eAudio books by writers of colour available through our libraries? Below are some reviews of our library staff’s favourites, with further recommendations from our stock by genre to get you started. Of course, there are many more reads available on the catalogue and new stock is being added both to our libraries and to the BorrowBox and RBdigital apps throughout the year (crucially not just during Black History Month!) so keep browsing. If you have any favourite read by a black author you want to shout about please email us at with the details of the book, a photo of the book cover(if you can) and a few reasons you love it and we can promote it through our social media channels. You can also find further recommendations from our staff by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Want to be educated? Challenged? Inspired? Entertained? We have a Black History Month book for that!
There are links to further reading lists and recommendation at the end of the article. Enjoy!

Justine recommends: Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved

This Pulitzer-winning novel is a deeply important witnessing of the history of the unforgotten. It is luminous, furious and shocking, lyrically written by one of the greatest writers in the English language. Morrison uses the ghost story to explore the trauma and dislocation – both physical and mental – of slavery and white supremacy and, ultimately, the curative power of love. It’s a milestone in the story of black people in America and a tale that will haunt you. As it should.

Jessica recommends: Jay Bernard’s ‘Surge’

This poetry collection centres around two fires: the New Cross fire of 1981, which killed 13 young black people at a party, and the Grenfell fire of 2017 where almost 80 people died. Bernard uses the archives from what came to be known as the ‘New Cross massacre’ to immortalise the voices and document the fallout of what was commonly believed to be the silencing of a racist attack. Part history, part activism, part memorial device, they show us how the past echoes loudly in the present. Surge is passionate, powerful, angry and utterly heart-breaking and these poems have been haunting my dreams for months. Bernard is an urgent new voice of brilliance.

Benjamin Zephaniah’s ‘The Lives and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah’

If you love Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry, and even if you don’t, his autobiography is a brilliant read, with the author’s life being closely entwined with the social history of Britain, and the various struggles of the day. A child of Windrush generation parents, he paints a compelling picture of everything from a working-class childhood in Birmingham, to his experiences of prison, police brutality, racism, activism and, eventually, success as one of the nation’s most well known poet. Being used to experiencing Zephaniah as a performance poet, I listened to the audio book, which he reads himself. He is also releasing a book in the ‘voices’ series in November called Windrush Child, bringing the narrative of the Windrush generation to children’s literature.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s ‘Friday Black’

This hard-hitting debut short-story collection is an often uncomfortable read –but in a good way. With stories tackling racism, violence and the soul sucking effects of unbridled capitalism, Adjei-Brenyah presents a futuristic, yet unsettlingly recognisable dystopia, interspersed with glimpses of hope. A few of the stories particularly stand out: the opening story The Finkelstein 5 is a sharp and bloody satire of the institutional racism routinely experienced by black youths, and the title story Friday Black perfectly portrays a world where whole lives are taken over by extreme consumerism. Friday Black is bleak for sure, but it is also surreal, original, funny and full of humanity.

Writing Our Legacy’s ‘ Hidden Sussex: A New Anthology for Sussex –Fiction, Non-fiction and Poetry from the Black and Ethnic Minority Experience

Writing Our Legacy was established in 2012 with the aim to, in their words, “raise awareness of the contributions of Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) writers, poets, playwrights and authors born, living or connected to Sussex and the South East”. Hidden Sussex is their first publication and it is a wonderfully diverse anthology of BAME writing from all over Sussex. Its 27 pieces range from poetry to memoir, fiction to essays and they all give a unique perspective of the place we all call home. Writing Our Legacy put on frequent events and workshops and their website ( ) is well worth a visit.

Frances recommends:
James Baldwin’s ‘I am not your Negro’

I am not your Negro is the unfinished manuscript Baldwin intended to be a personal recollection of his three friends, the civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr, who were all assassinated within five years of each other. Along with excerpts from his other published works, as well as various television appearances, the text from this book is used to narrate the powerful and critically acclaimed documentary of the same name by Raoul Peck. Although Baldwin died before he completed it, his words create (as ever) a radical, powerful and poetic work on race, as relevant today as it was then.

Bernadine Evaristo’s ‘Girl, Woman, Other

I loved this novel for many reasons, not least because it bends the form of the novel in a really exciting way by giving us not one but twelve very different co-protagonists, who all share an equal footing and whose stories intersect in beautiful and sometimes subtle ways. Dominant racist ideologies have worked to trap and fix Black people and Black experience under a monolithic definition of race, so by providing such a rich multiplicity of Black British women, Evaristo’s novel celebrates some of the possibilities of who and what Black women can be, thereby pushing against stereotyping and invisibility. I particularly fell in love with Amma and her Black lesbian feminist politics.

David Olusoga’s ‘Black and British: A Forgotten History

This book is a vital and timely re-examination of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa, reaching as far back as Roman Britain. These histories and narratives have long been silenced, and it is this lack of information and education that play a huge part in racism in the UK today. Black British history is woven into the cultural and economic histories of the nation, and it is imperative that we are taught about British colonial history and our leading role in the oppression of Black and Brown people. However, it is equally important to learn that colonialism is not the only story: Black British people were pioneers, inventors, soldiers, queens, and icons and this book works towards uncovering some of this rich history. It was accompanied by a brilliant four-part documentary with the same name, presented by the author.

Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart is a ground-breaking masterpiece that reshaped both African and world literature. Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart is the first in a landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one West African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease. These were/are seminal because they look at the brutality of colonisation from the viewpoint of the colonised, featuring a highly complex tragic hero, Okonkwo. It was the first novel to explore the break-up of tribal life from an African perspective, and it is not an exaggeration to say that it spurred a revolution in modern African literature. Paving the way for a new generation of African writers, like the brilliant Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to write about Africa and what it is to be African.

Further reading recommendations:

Colson Whitehead – The Underground Railroad
Bernadine Evaristo – Mr Loverman
Derek Owusu – That Reminds Me
Fran Ross – Oreo
Ralph Ellison – Invisible Man
Andrea Levy – Small Island
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
Ta-Nehisi Coates – The Water Dancer
Tsitsi Dangarembga – The Mournable Body
Maaza Mengiste – The Shadow King
Kiley Reid – Such a Fun Age
Brandon Taylor – Real Life

Elizabeth Jane Burnett – The Grassling
Lemn Sissay – My Name is Why
Audre Lorde Zami – A New Spelling of my Name
Roxane Gay – Hunger: A Memoir of (my) Body
Maya Angelou – I know why the Caged Bird Sings
Martin Luther King – The Autobiography of Martin Luther King

Lemn Sissay – Listener
Langston Hughes – The Collected Works of Langston Hughes
Jackie Kay – Bantam
Linton Kwesi Johnson – Selected Poems
Grace Nichols – I have Crossed an Ocean: Selected Poems
Danez Smith – Homie
Raymond Antrobus – The Perseverance

Attica Locke – Bluebird, Bluebird
Oyinkan Braithwaite – My Sister, the Serial Killer
Dorothy Koomson – Tell me Your Secret
Rachel Edwards – Darling
Chester Himes – Cotton Comes to Harlem
Walter Mosley – Trouble is what I do

Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race
Ibram X. Kendi – How To Be An Antiracist
Ijeoma Oluo – So You Want to Talk About Race
Akala Native -s Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire
Paul Gilroy – There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation
Layla F. Saad – Me and White Supremacy
Afua Hirsch – Brit(ish)
Robin Diangelo – White Fragility
Nikesh Shukla (Ed) – The Good Immigrant: 21 Writers Explore What It Means To Be Black, Asian, And Minority Ethnic In Britain Today
Michael Fuller – Kill the Black One First
Sam Selvon – The Lonely Londoners
Colin Grant – Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation
Wesley Lowery – They Can’t Kill Us All
Johnny Pitts – Afropean: Notes from Black Europe
Glory Edim – Well-read Black Girl

Tade Thompson – Wormwood Trilogy
Octavia B Butler – Kindered
Nnedi Okora – For Who Fears Death
N. K. Jemisin – The Inheritance Trilogy
Samuel R Delany – Dhalgren
Marlon James – Black Leopard, Red Wolf (Dark Star Trilogy book 1)

Alexandra Sheppard – Oh My Gods
Tomi Adeyemi – Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance
Malorie Blackman – Noughts and Crosses (series)
Patrice Lawrence – Orangeboy
Angie Thomas – The Hate you Give and On the Come Up
Dean Atta – The Black Flamingo
Benjamin Zephaniah- Refugee Boy
Nic Stone – Dear Martin
Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam – Punching the Air

Atinuke – Anna Hibiscus series and Too Small Tola
Malorie Blackman – Grandpa Bert and the Ghost Snatchers
Sharna Jackson – High-Rise Mystery
Jason Reynolds and Selom Sunu – Ghost
Joseph Coelho – Poems Aloud

Children’s non-fiction
Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins – Young, Gifted and Black
Vashi Harrison – Bold Women in Black History
Vashi Harrison – Exceptional Men in Black History
Helaine Becker, Dow Phumiruk – Counting on Katherine
The series Little People, Big Dreams has got numerous publications covering black people from history, from Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks to Ella Fitzgerald.

Picture books
Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola – Look up! and Clean Up!
Mo Farah – Ready, Steady, Mo!
Ken Wilson – Max Astro Girl
Nadia Shireen – Billy and the Beast
Hannah Lee – My Hair
Atinuke Baby – Goes to Market

Further reading and inspiration
Many, many outlets have created their own reading list of black authors for you to explore. Here are just a few examples to get you started.

Children’s reading lists:
Writing Our Legacy’s list of anti-racist children’s books

The Reading Agency’s ’65 brilliant books for children and young people by black authors and illustrators

Book Trust’s list of historical stories from Black History

Adult reading lists:
The Jhalak prize –Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour. A browse through their website and long lists from previous years will guide you towards many gems and the new ‘Books we Love’ section will be updated with recommendations

The Black History Month web-site has a book section where you can find reviews and recommendations

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Libraries in lockdown: What does community engagement look like?

Library staff are no strangers to a challenge. When it was announced in mid-March that library buildings would close for the foreseeable future, our brilliant colleague Gill sprang into action immediately and live streamed her scheduled Storytime via Facebook before leaving the building.

Our stock team set to work straight away, growing our virtual library of eBooks and eAudio. Social media emblazoned with Borrowbox signposting and online joining instructions, we began to field enquiries (from home) to make sure that the reading and learning opportunities we offer were still as accessible as possible. A new Facebook group was even created for ‘Book Chat’ where customers and staff could start conversations about reading habits and lockdown booklists, as well as sharing their recommended titles to celebrate World Book Night – the day that the UK lockdown was announced.

But what about those customers we might struggle to connect with during this time? 

Our community engagement team’s mission is always to ensure that our library services are accessible to those who need us the most – their work extends to the housebound, those living with disability, asylum seekers and refugees, families at a disadvantage, young people who are NEET or at risk of being so, the homeless community, and many others. The team work in partnership with volunteers and dozens of local community groups, charities and artists, to democratise creative and cultural opportunities.

So how has this work been able to continue during a major health crisis?

Since Gill’s first foray into the virtual storytelling realm, we’ve delivered an online Storytime every single day at 10.15am, some live, some pre-recorded, from the homes of dedicated library staff. Some of these sessions were themed and embellished to mark celebrations close to our hearts, like Empathy Day, World Refugee Day, Mental Health Awareness Week, Bookstart Week (Pyjamarama) and Trans Pride. In order to keep the magic of books alive for our youngest library members we’ve introduced our pets, donned our best pyjamas, stuck googly eyes to fruit and, at the risk of being upstaged, roped in our own children to help! A regular Storytime at Jubilee library would attract on average around 10-15 parent carers and their pre-schoolers. Online Storytime, Baby Boogie, Story Club and family craft sessions currently average in excess of 1500 views per session.

But of course numbers only ever tell half a story. We’ve also been working with partners like AMAZE, Digital Brighton & Hove, and council colleagues to make sure that this content and these opportunities reach those who may be further marginalised throughout lockdown.

In June we were proud to announce our new Library of Sanctuary status, and we found new ways to celebrate Refugee Week virtually for the first time. Staff and customers share their most cherished books by, and for, refugees. Excitingly, with support from New Writing South and The Book Nook, we launched our first flash fiction competition for all ages. We had a whopping 120 entries, in five different languages, from writers as young as six years old! Our guest judges included children’s author Onjali Q Raúf and we announced the winners earlier this month.

Our next mission is to deliver the annual Summer Reading Challenge online throughout July and August. The challenge (delivered in partnership between libraries and The Reading Agency) is aimed at addressing the reading ‘gap’ that many primary aged children experience over the summer holidays. Due to the differences in children’s lockdown experiences, this gap will be more pronounced than ever this year. The well-documented disadvantage gap between children from different backgrounds will undoubtedly have widened also. Therefore, libraries’ promotion of reading for pleasure and initiatives like the Summer Reading Challenge is more vital than ever.

And it’s not just the kids that will have all the fun! We’ll be launching a Summer Reading Challenge for adults – ‘Brighton & Hove’s Best Summer Reads’ – where customers are encouraged to read and recommend their favourite titles for the season.

We are also working closely with an army of volunteers to get redesign and restart our Home Delivery Service and have taken on 30 new clients, taking us to a total of 110 clients, many of whom are already receiving reading materials from us in a new, rigorously safe way. We’ll keep promoting this service to people who can’t use our e-services and are unable to obtain books otherwise, owing to health conditions, mobility issues, or caring responsibilities.

Behind the scenes, plans have been drawn for the reopening of physical library spaces, with the safety of both library staff and customers being paramount. Meanwhile we’ll continue to deliver against our mission and stand firm in our belief that libraries will always have the power to change lives.

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Experiences of an American library volunteer

One of our brilliant library volunteers, Peter, took time out during this very difficult time to write the following piece sharing his own personal experience of volunteering for Brighton and Hove library services.  Read his touching and eloquent story below:

I am a 58 year old American living in Brighton. I came here because I fell in love with a lovely Brightonian while visiting in London last spring. While here, I am doing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton.

To my surprise ‘Uni’, as you call it here, only met once a week during the fall semester so I found myself with lots of independent time to do my studies where I wished.

I have always loved libraries and I soon discovered Jubilee. What a treasure you have here! I love the open atrium. It happened that the day I first visited was some sort of special day and there were greeters there who helped me get an account. Since I live near the small, often unstaffed Westdene library branch, I was encouraged to get a Libraries Extra. In addition I learned about the electronic tools Borrow Box and RBDigital which are especially useful now. The cafe area is very nice and the communal seating has led to some nice conversations. On one of my first visits, although everyone around me was ensconced in their reading, I noticed a sign on the table that encouraged chatting. I gestured to my neighbors on either side of me and said “It says here we are supposed to talk”. The man to my left said, in a friendly way, ‘We’re English. We don’t talk.” I replied, “Well you can probably hear that I’m an American.” and, before we knew it, the three of us were having an active conversation. The man to my left had to leave after a bit as his lunch hour was over. I learned that my other neighbor was a semi-retired mathematician and we had a nice chat about his work and my nephew who also studied mathematics. I was also able to share with him an interesting article that had recently appeared in the excellent Quanta Magazine, which frequently covers mathematics.

In my second semester I am taking a Communities of Practice module which encourages writers to engage with their community. I had already considered volunteering at the library and this gave me the incentive to actually make it happen.

The process of becoming a volunteer was fairly straightforward and all of my dealing with Brighton & Hove library staff was efficient, professional, and friendly. My situation was a bit more complicated than most, due to the requirements of my university for a volunteer placement but the person at Jubilee was easy to work with and did the extra work to sign me up without complaint.

After communicating via email, I met for an interview at Jubilee. I am a retired software developer and very comfortable with technology so becoming a Library Connect volunteer to assist people with computers or phones seemed a natural fit.

After my reference was checked and I was accepted as a volunteer, I got the opportunity to ‘shadow’ one of the experienced Library Connect volunteers as he helped several people. I felt a bit as a novitiate being instructed by an older priest as he showed tremendous empathy to the people who had come to us for help. In some cases people needed quite straightforward help but in other cases their needs were connected to bigger events in their lives such as the need to apply for European Settled Status or to access their bank account after the death of a life partner. It became clear to me that the role had subtleties I had not appreciated and required sensitivity and discretion.

Finally, it came time for me to me begin my own first shift. I appreciated the trust I was given with access to the non-public parts of the library and a lanyard showing my status as an official volunteer. I looked in the appointment book and was happy to see that all three 45 minute sessions were booked. Less good, I was informed that the first person had cancelled. I was sitting at the Library Connect desk when, to my surprise and pleasure, a woman who had been working nearby asked if I could help. It turns out that the library is also used by the National Careers Service. The person who spoke to me was a Careers Advisor and her customer needed assistance uploading her resume to the job placement company Indeed. The customer had been out of work for more than 10 years after quitting to take care of her aged parents and another relative with cancer. She now wished to return to part-time work. To reacclimate herself to the workforce and get some recent experience she had been working in a charity shop. I was pleased to be able to assist her.

My next customer did not show up. Please don’t do this! It wastes volunteers time and prevents the slot from being used by someone else who needs assistance.

My third customer turned out to be very interesting and helpful to my own studies. She is an accomplished artist, playwright, and novelist with over a dozen published novels. Over the last few years she has been adapting some of her stage plays and novels to screenplays. I happen to be taking a screenwriting course at the moment so found working with her particular relevant. After our fruitful session we connected personally and I have now helped her edit three different plays. In the process I am learning from an accomplished writer. With the library now closed and my volunteering finished for now, it has been good to still be able to help someone who I met in the position.

Before the current pandemic shut things down I had the opportunity for two more sessions. In session number two, I was able to help an older woman set up a Gmail account, write an email to her son, and put names to telephone numbers in WhatsApp so she could better communicate with her extended family. Another client is a legally blind person who I was able to help by taking dictation of a letter to an incarcerated relative. I felt privileged to help this person with such a difficult circumstance.

In my third and final session before the shutdown I helped the widow of a former Cambridge Don research the life of a famous violinist from the reign of King George IV and helped another Brightonion create a Gmail account and use it. This last customer is an active volunteer in the community so I felt that he was getting a bit of good karma in return for his service.

All in all, my experience was very positive. It gave me a chance to meet people I wouldn’t ordinarily have had a chance to. I got a small taste of the wide variety of tasks that people are using these powerful, but sometimes confusing machines, for. Most importantly, it gave me a chance to give back a little to this community which is my new home and which has been welcoming to me. I look forward to when normal life resumes and I get to meet and help more of you.

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National Storytelling Week 3rd – 10th Feb 2020

The Network of International Women meet every Wednesday morning at Jubilee Library. To celebrate National Storytelling Week, members of the Hangleton & Knoll Multicultural Women’s Group were invited to visit them.

Monir came to talk about the project that the Hangleton & Knoll ladies are working on with Sharon Duggal of New Writing South. The project, Telling Our Stories, involves regular workshops where women share and write down some of their life stories.

The women are also encouraged to bring in items which have a special meaning for them. Monir told stories about her childhood in Mashhad, Iran’s 2nd largest city, located in the North East of Iran. Monir showed us the dolls (pictured) which one of her friend’s had made for her. The dolls represent the forgotten women who live on the Iran/Iraq border, whose lives are still overshadowed by the lengthy Iran/Iraq conflict. Many men from the rural villages were killed during the war, so the women had to take on everything.

Their tasks include collecting firewood and water every day for cooking and washing, while looking after their children. The doll on the left has a bundle of firewood and a baby on her back, as well as holding a basket in front of her. The storytelling project is going to continue this year through New Writing South and author Alison MacLeod’s The Stories We Tell initiative.

Find out more about:
The International Network of Women
Hangleton & Knoll Multicultural Women’s Group
New Writing South
National Storytelling Week

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Summer Reading Challenge themed top 10 books

Hello Everyone, Carlos here. With the Summer Reading Challenge theme being Space Chase, I have decided to look at the interstellar and cosmic books at the library.



10. Star Wars character encyclopedia by Simon Beecroft- Now with an updated edition including characters from the new movies, the star wars character encyclopedia is perfect for those who want to find out more about their favourite space adventure franchise. From Anakin Skywalker to Zuckuss and everyone in between, you’ll learn more about the heroes and villains of the saga with this wonderful volume. See also Star Wars the last Jedi: the visual dictionary, Star Wars: the complete visual dictionary and Star Wars alien archive for more fun facts about a galaxy far far away.





9. The alien hunter’s handbook: how to look for extra-terrestrial life by Mark Brake- is there other life in the universe? What might it be like? How could we communicate with them? How will we find where they live? Discussing the history of life on earth and what we currently know about outer space, The Alien Hunter’s Handbook is a fun, engaging and in-depth guide to what aliens might be like.







8. How did robots land on Mars? By Clara MacCarald- We know a lot about the planet Mars through the robotic probes NASA sends to the planet. But how were they made in the first place, and how do the scientists at NASA control these machines? Find out in this book all about the engineering that went into making this incredible feat possible. See also STEM in our world: Space technology for more information about the gadgets and machines that allow us to find out about space.





7. iHero Alien raid by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore- In this gamebook, you must save Planet Earth from Alien Invasion. Make the right decisions and you will save the earth, but if you make the wrong choice you’ll have to try again! Fun for anyone who’s dreamed of being a hero in a sci-fi film of their own. Check out iHero Monster Hunter Alien, I hero Tyranno quest and I hero Toons Invasion of the botty snatchers for more interactive intergalactic adventures.





6.png6. Astrosaurs vs Cows in Action: The dinosaur moo-tants by Steve Cole and illustrated by Woody Fox- A crossover between two of Steve Cole’s comedic adventure series, the planet-hopping Astrosaurs books and the time-travelling Cows in Action novels. The Fed-up Bull Institute and the League of Galactic Carnivores create strange Cow-Dinosaur to conquer the universe. Can Space Captain Teggs the stegosaurus, communications officer Gipsy the Corythosaurus, first officer Arx the Triceratops, chief engineer Iggy the Iguanodon, scientist Professor McMoo the bull, sidekick Pat Vine the calf and fighter Bo Vine the heifer save the day? Also look out for other Astrosaurs and Cows in Action adventures, like The mind-swap menace and The ter-moo-nators, some of which are also available as audiobooks.



5. The first men in the moon by H.G. Wells. 68 years before humans actually set foot on the moon, H.G. Wells wrote this thrilling and highly influential interplanetary adventure. A London businessman named Bedford and a physicist from Lympne, Mr. Cavor, discover a mysterious substance called Cavorite which allows them to defy gravity. They travel to the moon and discover a strange civilisation of insect-like creatures called Selenites.







4. DK pocket eyewitness Space: facts at your fingertips – With over 170 profiles on planets, stars, meteorites and moons, this ‘Pocket Eyewitness’ book will make you a space expert in no time. Find out about Jupiter’s red spot, the martian mountain Olympus Mons, craters on the moon, the scale of the Universe, how telescopes work, the life cycles of stars and much more. Check out DK illustrated encyclopedia of the universe, DK find out! Space travel and DK find out! Universe for more fascinating facts about outer space.




3. I took the moon for a walk by Carolyn Curtis and illustrated by Alison Jay. A charming, wonderful picture book with a few bilingual editions available. A young boy wanders through the night whilst bringing the moon along with him as he walks. Set in lyrical rhyme and using language that will boost reader confidence, I took the moon for a walk is a charming book regardless of your age.





2. The Phoenix colossal comics collection Volume 1 by Various authors and illustrators. A selection of comic strips from the weekly Phoenix magazine, including the space adventure strip Troy Trailblazer. Troy and his allies discover a race of part-machine part-biological beings called the BioTeks. The Bioteks plan to wage war on the Galactic military, for imprisoning their computer leader the God-Brain. Can Troy and his friends save the universe? The other strips included are also highly enjoyable.




1.png1. Neil Armstrong and travelling to the moon by Ben Hubbard. With the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing this year, I thought the number one had to be a book about the moon landing. This amazing non-fiction book includes information about Neil Armstrong’s life, his first trip aboard an American Spacecraft, the development of Space Travel and the training astronauts undergo. See also Yuri Gagarin and the race to space for more information about the history of space travel.


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Brighton Library Music Club talks 2019

Our latest music talk, Pink Floyd Brighton ’72, is now available to listen to on Mixcloud

Hear the full interview with Julia Trangmar, who worked all of the Brighton 1972 shows (The first “Eclipse” Dark side of the Moon show).  Julia has many fascinating insights on her time with Pink Floyd.  Interestingly, she praises Easy Star All Stars reggae version of Dark Side of the Moon as “really impressive” and a “fresh look at it”.  Big thanks must go to Stuart Avis (Servants of Science band) & Julia Trangmar of course, for the talk.  Please see Brighton & Hove City Libraries social media for information on future talks.


The Brighton Dome, venue of those legendary concerts.

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Hollingdean – Library Access Point Launch

On Thursday 1st August several members of library staff (and Spider-Man) headed over to Hollingdean Community Centre to launch the all new Library Access Point.


Situated in one corner of the hall, this space is available for the community to use from 10am – 2pm on Thursdays, when the Junk Food Project also provide a delicious pay as you feel lunch.  The library is self-service and available resources include books for adults and children to borrow, a free to use PC with internet connectivity and Wi-Fi for those bringing their own devices.

During the event we had the opportunity to speak to members of the Hollingdean community – from seniors browsing local history texts and young multi-lingual families looking for dual language picture books, to teens wanting support to learn to drive.

Gemma and India were on hand to promote the vast array of free e-resources available to those with library cards – there are too many to list here but highlights include e-magazines, e-comics and e-books.


Hollingdean’s Favourite 3 Resources:

Theory Test Pro – a realistic online simulation of the UK’s driving theory test

BorrowBox – e-books and e-audiobooks

Britannica – a comprehensive online encyclopaedia

To see our full list of free resources visit

Matt from Free University Brighton (FUB) joined us to promote their Freegree courses, another fantastic resource available free to anyone looking to further develop their education. If you think this might include you, pop over to or follow them on Twitter @FreeUniBrighton.


For younger customers, our colleague Jo also hosted a free Party Bag Making Session with cake decorating and arts and crafts. With 13 children and 5 adults getting involved Jo’s session was a big hit and two dedicated young readers even managed to start and finish the Summer Reading Challenge to win their medals!

We would like to say a big thank you to Ceza and Shirley for their behind the scenes support of the event and for all their assistance on the day. It was a pleasure working with you!

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Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage – 80’s New York Punk, Funk & Reggae

Once a month at Jubilee Library, there’s a free music talk – everyone is welcome!
In Febuary, Francis gave a talk about the infamous Larry Levan and in case you missed it, he’s kindly given us the transcipt!

Larry Levan & the Paradise Garage

Larry Levan & Grace Jones

Why I admire Larry Levan and what he achieved…

Born Lawrence Philpot in 1954….maybe wisely changed his surname, he started out playing records in the early 70’s with another legend, Frankie Knuckles at The Gallery and then Soho Place (not the trendy new one).

He was the main DJ at the Paradise Garage in New York from 1977 to 1987 when it closed and the people who went there loved him. This was the civil and gay rights era and the Stonewall Inn protest in New York was only back in 1969, just a few years before Larry started as a DJ.

This was when customers at the gay pub had had enough of Police harassment and stood up to them, their bravery became a historic moment in gay rights. Larry was black and gay, this makes his success all the more impressive for the times he lived in

He was very open minded in the music he played, especially being interested in the synthy and experimental new European music of the early 80’s, Kraftwerk being one of these bands, their records were also popular with the Bronx hip hop scene. (Whitfield Records, home of disco-funker’s Rose Royce, assisted in the production on the Man Machine album, which includes with Model.)

As the 80’s got going he experimented more with spacey and dub effects, in his remixes and his own two bands.

He died at just 38 in 1992, after a very successful DJ tour of Japan with the DJ, mixer and great friend Francis Kervorkian. Drugs had alas become more a part of his life and caused problems, sometimes his friends would buy his records back from market stalls, which he’d sold for his habit. One of his friends remarked that Larry was an intelligent and smart guy and it was a choice he made, but a real shame.

Returning to the positive, he played, mixed and made his own great records. We’ll look at the records after taking a look at the Paradise Garage itself.

The Paradise Garage, sadly knocked down for flats in 2018

Paradise Garage & New York club scene

84 King street in New York was set up by legendary West End Records Mel Cheren’s boyfriend Michael Brody. The idea was originally for a downtown Studio 54 styled very fashionable club. However on the snow bound opening night, the sound system got stuck at the airport and the trendy crowd left after freezing as they queued for ages in the snow.

This actually did the club a favour, as instead it developed into a much earthier and underground place, far removed from Studio 54 where you went to be seen. The Paradise Garage however was where you went to hear great music with a friendly and accepting atmosphere.

It had a very mixed crowd, black, latino, gay, straight men and women, though more men when it started. Initially one of the women said she had to go in disguise as a man as it as more male orientated, when Mel Cheren found out he went out of his way to make sure women were welcome too. It opened in 1977, only 8 years after the Stonewall protests of 1969 and it was membership only, this meant that the Saturday night booze hounds and brawlers were not there and it was a safe place to be.

There are many pictures of Larry happily standing by the incredibly powerful state of the art sound system he had put in or behind the three record decks with room enough for a party behind them, which there often was!

Other NYC clubs

There were other very exciting and cutting edge clubs in New York at the same time and the Paradise Garage didn’t exist in a complete bubble, though as the 80’s went on it did maintain a kinder friendlier atmosphere. I’ve listed a few of these other great clubs and it’s very interesting checking out the DJ playlists for them. They all have a slightly different take on what they played but generally it was very eclectic, no club just playing say just disco or rock.

The Loft

Larry was heavily influenced by David Mancuso, the bearded chap who created and ran The Loft. People literally partied in his own loft. It was guests only, long mixes of deep disco, funk often with a spacey nature. Tracks such as War’s psychedelic soul-funk “City, Country, City” and Dexter Wansel’s very trippy disco song “Life on Mars” were favourites.

David Mancuso

The Roxy

In 1982 Kool Lady Blue ran the “ All races dance club”, featuring punk and early hip hop club, gay night with lots of DJ’s. Live there was Madonna, Beastie Boys, Kurtis Blow and Kraftwerk.

Ruza Blue AKA Kool Lady Blue


The club scene from Desperately Seeking Susan was filmed here. Featuring DJ Mark Kamins who got Madonna signed and produced her first single “Everybody”. A hangout also of Duran Duran, the B52’s , New Order, Jesus & Mary Chain, Sonic Youth. Alternative rock, rap and disco was the sound.

Mark Kamins with someone we all know!

Radio support

Frankie Crocker of WBLS was often in the DJ booth with Larry.

Frankie Crocker

He would check out the records Larry was playing, see which ones went down well with the dancers and then make haste to a record shop and play them on his radio show. This really helped make what were often very underground records become club hits and sometimes chart hits. It also helped promote both Larry and the Paradise Garage as a place to fins cutting edge music.

Great NYC disco/boogie labels

Queen Yahna – Aint it Time 1976, P&P Records

Prelude Records

Sam records


West End


Becket –(see below Denroy Morgan)

Some Great Records he played

Sinammon – Thanks to You

Eddy Grant – Walking on Sunshine

Grace Jones – Nipple to the bottle

Lace – Can’t play Around

Central Line – Walking on Sunshine

Central Line

Later garage record labels (with disco-boogie sound still)

Easy Street

Jump Street

Supertronics records

Lola – Wax the Van (Lola Blank, Arthur Russell)

Euro electro and rock on the Playlist

Kraftwerk – The Robots

Manuel Gottsching – E2-E4 (Ashra Tempel)

Ian Dury – Spasticus Autisticus

Marianne Faithfull – Broken English

Modern Romance – Salsa Rhapsody (Dub Discomix)

The Police – Voices inside my Head

Cat Stevens – Was Dog A Doughnut

Cat Stevens

Ian Dury – Spasticus Autisticus

The Clash – Magnificent Dance 

(This track had Norman Roy-Watt from The Blockheads on bass and was used by Larry to tune the sound system in the club)

Joe Strummer said “When we came to the U.S, Mick stumbled on a music shop in Brooklyn that carried the music of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, The Sugarhill Gang…these groups were radically changing music and they changed everything for us.”

The Clash

Selected Remixes

Influence of dub when mixing Island records

Gwen Guthrie – Padlock EP 1983 (Garage Records)

Class Action – Weekend 1983 (Sleeping Bag) – Arthur Russell Connection

Ednah Holt – Serious Sirius Space Party 1981 (West End Records)

Ednah Holt

Loose Joints – Is it all over my Face 1980 (West End Records)

Gwen Guthrie – It should have been you. – Sly & Robbie

Class action – Weekend – Leroy Burgess

Frontline Orchestra – Don’t turn your back on me (Eddy Grant again – legend!)

The Funk Masters – Love Money

Larry’s bands

Larry had two bands and I’ve just named a few selected tracks, there are other very good EP’s and also unreleased tracks that have come out for the first time. Man Friday’s “It’s in the Rythmn” and Peech Boy’s “Stay with Me” are amazing songs that for whatever reasons never made it to vinyl in the 80’s, though with the latter just go for Tom Moulton or Larry’s own mixes. The Peech Boys also included the fantastic Bernard Fowler.

NYC Peech Boys – Don’t Make Me Wait 1982 (West End Records)  

On a Journey 1983 (Island Records)

Man Friday – Love Honey, Love Heartache 1986 (Vinylmania)

Peech Boys

End of the Paradise Garage in 1987 and feedback from fans

Sherri Eisenpress; “It was the only place around where no matter who you were, people came together in the shared spirit of love and music that, when you heard it, you had no choice but to get up and dance”,

Anonymous; “Not a day passes when I don’t think about the man or listen to one of his totally unique trippy and dub inspired mixes”.

Dave Piccioni, owner of London’s Black Market Records lived in New York in the late 80’s, he said it was ; “New York, cut throat money time. Everybody was sticking knives in each others backs. It was dog eat dog. Aggressive. Dealing, sixty thousand people living on the street. And then you’d go to this little oasis, where people were really well-mannered and friendly to each other. You just felt totally comfortable. People who shared something, and that was an open mind”.

Last night at the Paradise Garage

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey into the life of Larry Levan and the Paradise Garage. I’ve only mentioned a tiny bit of the amazing music he was involved with, there are loads to discover on-line and of course on the great CD’s in the library. We’ve got a lot of rare underground disco-funk from the late 80’s early 80’s and funky rock cross-over bands such as The Clash and talking Heads.

Thanks for the music Larry!

Francis Field

Larry on the Decks

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Refugee Week

Next week is Refugee week and there’s a full week of events happening at Jubilee library, from talks and workshops to children’s crafts and exhibitions!
Here’s the programme of events:

Find out more about refugee week events across the city here, including more information about refugee Week and Sanctuary on Sea:

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Did you see us?

Once a month at Jubilee Library, there’s a free music talk – and the Hanover Directory was kind enough to print a piece on the talks & what’s coming up!

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