AS I said in last week’s column, libraries are a crucial part of any community.

They give children access to exciting new worlds and knowledge without having to worry about the cost.

The buildings are also local hubs - a great place for people to meet and socialise.

Bolton Central Library is housed in a magnificent building, with a huge collection of books and fascinating and priceless archives.

It shares the building in Le Mans Crescent with another community jewel that has for decades been the envy of towns and cities across the UK: the wonderful Bolton Museum.

In the same way that the library in Little Lever sparked my imagination and gave me a thirst for reading as a child, Bolton Museum was an exciting place to visit to see the Egyptian mummy.

As a youngster, my idea of a mummy was the bandaged monster played by Boris Karloff or Christopher Lee in horror movies and that probably made looking at the exhibits more alluring than ever, but it was the Bolton Museum display that sparked a lifelong fascination with Ancient Egypt.

Now of course, the exhibition is even more impressive following the museum’s multi-million refurbishment.

Following the work, the interior is bright, modern and interactive, but the designers have cleverly managed to retain its ability to educate using the most amazing and mind-boggling old display pieces, including the mummy I remember as a child, which – thanks to advances in technology – we know much more about now than we did five decades ago.

When I last visited, just a few weeks ago during in half term, the building was teeming with children and they were clearly having a ball.

Museums, libraries, and theatres such as the Octagon across the road, are a crucial part of what makes Bolton a great place to visit.

The building also houses a brilliant art gallery and, in the basement, an aquarium.

There is no doubt that culture and making it as accessible as possible for everyone is a vital part of the fabric of any town or city.

What makes these places so compelling and inviting is the passion and dedication of those who run them.

Every member of staff I have ever talked to at the museum is genuinely proud of what they offer to the public.

They are delighted by the response from visitors who have enjoyed a great day out, very often with young children who have learned a huge amount without even realising it.

This week it emerged that the museum has been shortlisted for the Family Friendly Museum Award 2019, which recognises heritage attractions that go the extra mile to welcome children, young people and families.

Let’s hope the judges see

what I saw in the half term break - youngsters clamouring to visit the museum again and again, learning at the same time as having a brilliant day out.