MANY of Sheffield’s libraries will only stay open if they are taken over by their communities.
In an ironic twist of David Cameron’s Big Society, the Labour-run council has issued a rallying call to charities, businesses and members of the public to help safeguard the future of the library service.
More than 6,000 people responded to the local authority’s consultation survey to say what they would like their libraries to offer.
Predictably, the answers lay in opening times and good choice of books.
Users also highlighted development plans such as having a a coffee bar, newsagent and café service in the libraries to make them more sustainable.
Since the consultation, the council has now been told what budget it will receive from the Government, prompting an acceleration of its reform plans.
That has focused the authority on appealing to the public to get involved in running the service.
The message is a straightforward one from the council – unless the Big Society comes to the rescue up to 14 libraries could be closed.
What isn’t clear is how organisations can help run the service. Will they be given budgets, expert support, how will they be run, the list goes on?
The idea is a good one in theory, whether anything more than a simple lending service can ever come from it is debatable – which will mean the aspirations of many of those who filled in the survey will not be met.
What does seem to be important though, is that some form of community facility should be preserved – but it will be up to the local community to make it work.
Marathon effort deserves praise
FOR nearly 20 years, the ever-present contribution of husband and wife partnerhsip Ian and Judy Thomas have helped to make the Sheffield Half-Marathon the event and success it is today.
Ian has taken on the onerous task of collating results for the event since 1994 with Judy volunteering with the administration behind the scenes.
Now they have decided to put their feet up.
It has been a marathon effort for them and they deserve the city’s thanks for their contribution.
A great class act
CONGRATULATIONS to Walkley Primary for turning round their performance. It is the product of great teamwork from parents, teachers and pupils.