Bolton Library and Museum Services

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Can I wash antique clothing on a delicates wash in the machine?

    No, old fabrics were not designed to be washed in a machine and the force of even a delicates cycle can mis-shape, shrink, make colours run and fade the item.

  • How do I clean a dirty painting?

    If it is an oil painting and the paint is not flaking off you can use a very soft brush to gently dust the surface. If it is a watercolour do nothing. If it is just the glass that is dirty it is ok to use a clean dry cloth with a little glass cleaner sprayed onto it to gently clean the glass. Never spray glass cleaner directly onto the glass, always spray onto a cloth first.

  • How do I find a professional conservator/restorer?

    Look on the conservation register at

  • Where can I buy a box for storing delicate items?

    We cannot make recommendations about companies but there are lists of approved suppliers on the Museums Association website.

  • What kind of materials are best for photo albums?

    Sometimes, if the photo album says that it is ‘Acid Free’ then it is fine to use, however the best method is to use Melinex (a type of clear plastic) pockets to protect the photos.


  • Why don’t you return objects to Egypt?

    The majority of Egyptian objects in Bolton Museum, including human remains, derive from excavations conducted by archaeological expeditions, and were given to the Museum in return for an annual subscription. These expeditions were given permits to dig by the Egyptian authorities, a condition of which was that the excavator would be allotted a share of finds to take out of the country. Other objects were purchased on the art market, either by the museum or by donors. In all cases these objects were acquired in accordance with international treaties regarding the trade in cultural goods. Until the 1980s there was a thriving legal trade in antiquities – including mummified remains – in Egypt, and Egyptian objects are still legitimately bought and sold in Britain and Europe today. We believe that the museum has full legal title to all items in its Egyptian collection, nor has the Egyptian government made any claims for the return of any objects. The ethical position on the display and storage of human remains is open to debate, and the Museum has a human remains policy. This can be found in our Museum Policies section. We believe that the peceived benefits of displaying our two mummies outweigh the disadvantages.

  • Why don’t you put more objects on display?

    The Museum owns around 10,000 Egyptian objects (the number varies depending on how they are counted). For reasons of space, not all can be displayed at once – choosing a selection allows us to present the better-preserved pieces and to give objects room to breathe in the displays. The remaining objects are kept in climate-controlled storage, and we welcome enquiries from scholars and interested people to come and study pieces.

  • Are scarabs dangerous?

    Contrary to the impression given by the Mummy films, scarab beetles are not flesh-eating monsters! The Egyptians regarded the scarab as a symbol of rebirth and the rising sun, and placed amulets in the form of scarabs among the wrappings of the mummy to help the dead person enter the afterlife.


  • How do I join the library?

    You can join the library online by visiting the Join the Library section of the Libraries page and then visitng your local library to complete the process. Alternatively you can join by filling out a quick form at your local library. Please note - a proof of identity which includes your address such as a driving licence or utility bill must be shown. Membership is free. Children can join from birth.

  • How many books can I borrow?

    You can borrow 10 books at any one time. The standard loan period for books is 3 weeks.

  • How many DVDs can I borrow?

    You can borrow 6 DVDs at any one time. All DVDs can be borrowed for 3 days for £1 per DVD.

  • Can I return a book I borrowed from Central Library to a Community Library?

    Yes you can return your books to any Bolton Library regardless of where they were borrowed from.

  • Can I access my library account online?

    You can access your library account via the Libraries section of the website

  • I am a member of the Central Library. Can I use other Bolton Libraries?

    You are welcome to use any of our 10 Community Libraries and 5 neighbourhood collections with your library membership. You will also be able to access our Online Resources.

  • I haven’t finished my book can I keep it for longer?

    You can renew your books by accessing your library account online or within library opening hours, by ringing 01204 333173

  • I’ve tried to renew my books online but it doesn’t seem to be working.

    There are a number of reasons why they system may not allow you to renew your books this time: • The online system allows 2 unseen renewals only. You will need to bring the items in to a library to have them renewed again. • The item may have been reserved by another customer. • Your membership may be about to expire. Contact your nearest library to speak to a member of staff. - If you have a 16P at the start of your library card number ignore this and enter the numbers after it including the X if you have one.

  • I’ve collected a book I reserved but can only borrow it for two weeks. Can you explain why?

    Some titles are very popular and to minimise the waiting time for each customer we allow a two week loan period. The standard loan period is 3 weeks.

  • You don’t have a book I need in stock. Will you buy it for the library?

    Fill in a reservation card at your nearest library or e-mail Our staff will decide whether we can purchase the book for our stock.

  • What happens if you can’t buy a book I need?

    We can apply to borrow a book from another UK library. This costs you £5 per item

  • Can I donate books to the library?

    We don’t accept donations unless they relate to the Bolton area, when they may be added to the stock in the Local Studies collection.

  • How do I find out about events in libraries?

    Visit the What's On? section of our website or go to:

  • I’d like to volunteer at the library. How can I find out more?

    Visit our Get Involved page for more information

  • Are you open on Sundays and Bank Holidays?

    The Central Library and Museum, Harwood and High Street Libraries are open from 10am to 4pm on Sundays (apart from Easter Sunday). The Central Library and Museum is open from 10am to 4pm on Bank Holidays (apart from Good Friday, Christmas and New Year). Check the Plan Your Visit page for further information on opening hours.

  • Do you have books for visually impaired customers?

    We have a collection of large print and talking books on tape and CD at all of our libraries. There is a small charge for the hire of talking books depending on your circumstances.

  • I need help using your online information resources – who can help me?

    Speak to a member of staff at your nearest library or phone our Ask Bolton Libraries Enquiry Team on 01204 332853.

  • I’d like to learn how to use a computer. Can anyone at the library help me?

    We have volunteers who deliver computer mentoring at most of our libraries. Visit our Get Involved page for more information.

  • I am an author/publisher and I’d like to know if you would be interested in buying my book for your stock.

    You can e-mail the details of your publication to Our staff will consider the title and decide whether or not to purchase it for our stock.

  • Do you have an eBook download service?

    Yes we have a collection of over 500 eBook titles to download completely free of charge. For more information please visit:

  • Do you have an eAudiobook download service.

    Yes we have a collection of over 200 eAudiobook titles to download free of charge. Visit: for more information


  • Why are the Bolton Aquarium displays all freshwater fish?

    We like to be different! Most aquaria have marine fish, but we would like to show some of the many beautiful and interesting fish to be found in the rivers, streams and lakes of the world.

  • Why are some tank displays more interesting than others?

    We want the fish to feel at home and be happy. The tanks are made to be as much like the fishes natural homes as possible. Some fish like to hide amongst rocks, whilst some like plenty of plants and others prefer clear water.

  • Where do you get the fish for the aquarium?

    Some of our fish are bought from reputable dealers known to aquarium staff. We regularly exchange fish with zoos and other public aquaria for breeding or display purposes. Some private aquarists who understand our work also give us fish that they have bred. A very small number of fish are given to us by members of the public who have bought fish and then found they could not look after them properly. However, we are only very rarely able to rehouse fish in this way.

  • What do you feed the piranhas?

    We feed them on a wide range of food. They get pieces of fish, prawns, cockles, mussels and flaked fish food. Despite what many people think, piranhas do not need fresh meat, so we do not feed it to them. Too much meat is in fact bad for them. To help their digestion and provide extra vitamins, they are also given small amounts of fruit.

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