Library protesters fear for children’s education

Pictured is Donna Furniss(right) who organised a protest amongst the local community against the proposed closure of Jordanthorpe Library,off Dyche Lane,Jordanthorpe
Pictured is Donna Furniss(right) who organised a protest amongst the local community against the proposed closure of Jordanthorpe Library,off Dyche Lane,Jordanthorpe
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More residents have taken to the streets in protest at plans to close their Sheffield library – with parents fearing for their children’s education.

Mums, dads and children gathered with placards outside Jordanthorpe Library, urging Sheffield Council to back down on plans to shut the facility.

The council is withdrawing funding for 16 of 27 community libraries due to budget cuts of £50 million.

Officials are encouraging community groups to volunteer to keep branches open but will cover the bills at only five more sites and also propose charging market rents for groups taking the libraries on.

Jordanthorpe mum Donna Furniss and other parents held the latest protest yesterday afternoon, after picking up youngsters from the nearby Lower Meadow Primary School.

Donna, who brought along son Alex, aged seven, said: “We don’t want the library to close because it’s not only where people go as adults but it’s also children who use it.

“When they get older, those from homes without computers go along there to do their homework– not everyone has a PC at home.

“Without a library there would be nowhere else for them to go and we are worried about the impact on our children’s education.”

Meanwhile, trade union Unison, which represents council staff including librarians who stand to lose their jobs, has criticised the council’s library policies.

Rod Padley, Unison branch secretary, said: “As Malorie Blackman, the Children’s Poet Laureate has said, closing libraries is a blow to the increased government emphasis on children’s reading and educational attainment.

“She fears that without libraries literacy will be ‘the province of the lucky few’ – and it will be a lucky few if Sheffield Council succeeds in closing half its libraries.

“The council has to save money because of reduced public funding and £1.66 million is libraries’ share of the burden.

“Yet suddenly the council has announced it will put up £900,000 to facilitate the Tour de France coming to Sheffield – money the council supposedly hasn’t got.”

Mr Padley said Unison wants the council to protect a ‘professionally-run library service’.

Sheffield Council said consultation on its library proposals is ongoing.