People That Make Bradford Sparkle | Bradford Libraries, Museums and Galleries

We’ve been looking for the People That Make Bradford Sparkle – those people in our communities who have gone the extra mile to make us smile. We want to shine a spotlight on the individuals that have spread a sparkle of joy throughout the district this year.

This week we’re shining a light on Bradford Libraries, Museums and Galleries staff. Almost a year ago, the district’s libraries, museums and galleries had to close their doors and staff had to spring into action and find new ways to put collections online to provide some much needed entertainment and things to do throughout lockdown. From welcoming people into libraries, organising school visits and exhibitions, staff have had to swiftly transform some of our most beautiful historic buildings from in-person spaces to online resources with virtual tours and activities. This has definitely brought serious challenges, but also opportunities to learn new skills and provide new and accessible services.

Bradford Libraries quickly adapted to provide a click and collect service. You can order books online or over the phone and collect them from your local library.

For many library users, ordering by phone has been a lifeline – a chat with their local librarian might be the only contact they have had all day, says Dionne Hood from the Library service, people have really missed that human contact that is at the heart of a library. Books can be delivered too which has been a vital service for people who are isolated or shielding. Ebooks and audio books have also proved very popular. The Bradford Libraries team are supporting over 100 book groups across the district with the ebook service which can supply hundreds of copies of the same book at a time, meaning groups can still meet and remain connected.

Normally, Bradford Libraries provide year-round events, workshops and classes. This half-term, activities include an online daily story time and yoga extravaganza to keep kids entertained and active – adding to the many story and rhyme time videos you can find on the Bradford Library website. For the future, Dionne is excited about the upcoming Reading Friends scheme to support isolated people with calls, loaning tablets for ebooks and more activities sent out to people’s homes. Events to look forward to include: the BBC’s 100 novels project; developing library support for businesses and entrepreneurs; and World Book day providing free books for children.

Bradford’s Museums and Galleries quickly realized that they needed to go digital to help parents and schools access their collections and resources.

“Inspire Me to” activities were posted every week and much loved stories taken from museums’ collections were adapted and brought to life online. For those children without access to the internet or printing, 2,000 explorer and activity packs were distributed over the summer. Children have loved the chalk provided in these packs so they can recreate Victorian games such as hopscotch on their streets. It’s these small but important successes which have been much appreciated by parents and children alike. The regular What Is It Wednesday? and photo archive on social media have also proved big hits. 

Museum and galleries staff have kept in contact with their volunteers with regular coffee mornings organized via Zoom. Sonja Kielty of Bradford Museums says a whole new network of people has been created as volunteers from across the district have been able to meet virtually and connect. Some people who’ve been shielding for example have been able to meet new people, share phone numbers, interests and make plans for collaborations in the future – it’s opened a whole host of new doors says Sonja. Plans for the future include new gardening projects between horticultural students at Shipley College and older retired volunteers, both in the museum grounds of Bolling Hall with Tudor food and folklore medicine and community gardens planned. Lockdown has given staff the time to think, plan and make new connections.

The Peace Museum

Did you know that the Peace Museum in Bradford city centre is the only accredited peace museum in the world? Currently staffed by a dedicated team of two, Shannen Johnson and Charlotte Hall are managing the museum’s unique collection rooted in Bradford and its radical peace and activist traditions. Weekly craft challenges based on the collection were arranged at the start of lockdown, these can be found on the museum’s YouTube channel along with videos describing 20 fascinating objects of peace. An online exhibition has also been collecting local stories – Peace and Pandemic reflects people’s responses to the pandemic across the district. Activity packs have been sent out to children with limited or no access to the internet and the Peace Museum team have loved seeing what families have sent in says Shannen. You can see a slideshow with some beautiful examples of artwork inspired by the museum’s collection on the YouTube channel too.

Lockdown hasn’t stopped plans for the future either, a crowdfunder was launched for new more accessible premises in the city centre. One positive aspect of the lockdown has been the push to make the collection more accessible online Shannen says with more digital exhibitions and virtual tours planned this year. Look out for the Women Peace Heroes and local unsung women project as part of the upcoming International Women’s Day; the World War 2 VE Day exhibition postponed from last year; and tonight sees a special LGBT+ Peace Out show and tell event as part of the Bradford LGBTQ+ history month.

The ‘People That Make Bradford Sparkle’ campaign will run from December to February and will showcase the unsung heroes across the district, including those people who work in retail, tourism or hospitality. To make a nomination, email: or leave a comment on the Visit Bradford Facebook page: