Sheffield libraries already vying to diversify

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Volunteers now running Sheffield libraries are already looking at how to diversify - backing the findings of a new report.

The Independent Library Report for England said library services could only be saved if they became more like coffee shops with sofas, wi-fi and hot drinks.

Several of Sheffield’s libraries are now run by volunteers after the city council relinquished control to save cash.

At Stannington’s facility, volunteers are looking at what other services the public could want.

Bob Mynors, from Stannington and District Library Group, said: “We want to diversify. Our logo says we’re more than just a library.

“We know that if we simply open for the same hours, lend books, CDs and offer computers as the council did then we will not draw in the public. We are in the process of investigating what people want.”

The report, which said funding cuts and declining attendance threatened the viability of libraries unless urgent action was taken, also recommended the creation of a single national library card and catalogue.

Walkley Carnegie Library has also been taken over by the community and is set to be part of a partnership with the Forum Cafe and Bar group.

Anne Bore, from the community group, said: “I think having a national library network is a brilliant idea because then people could use them all over the country.

“We are hoping that the library will become more of a coffee shop type place - at the same time someone came in the other day asking for our section on Sheffield Wednesday so people do still want access to that very local stuff.”

The report was commissioned by the Government and released yesterday.