Sheffield libraries branch out a year on from handover

(l-r) Dot Russell, manager, Janet Brown, volunteer, Bob Mynors, volunteer, Jenny van Tinteren, chair of trustees and Mel Smart, volunteers manager at Stannington Library. Picture: Andrew Roe
(l-r) Dot Russell, manager, Janet Brown, volunteer, Bob Mynors, volunteer, Jenny van Tinteren, chair of trustees and Mel Smart, volunteers manager at Stannington Library. Picture: Andrew Roe
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When Sheffield Council announced that Stannington Library was among 16 set to shut across the city unless volunteers took over, the choice for Bob Mynors and his friends was clear.

“While volunteers cannot ever fully replace the work done by professional, qualified librarians, libraries remain important local, social spaces,” said Bob, of the Stannington and District Library Group.

“So when the council decided to close the library unless volunteers stepped forward to run it, that’s what we had to do.”

A year has now passed since community groups in the affected areas - including Broomhill, Totley, Upperthorpe and Walkley, as well as Stannington - first picked up the keys to their libraries.

Thanks to their efforts, and no doubt with some relief, the city council is able to report that no facilities have closed, despite needing to save £1.6m from its library services budget by next year.

Burngreave - one of five venues where the council funds the building and maintenance costs - changes hands this month, managed by charity Soar.

The future promises to be interesting, Bob said.

“We have the flexibility to do things that would not have been possible under local authority management. We ran a murder-mystery evening in May that was great fun and helped us raise money. Local residents have donated books. Stannington Story Festival, our anniversary event, achieved enough this year to guarantee there will be another one in 2016. It could become a permanent part of the local social calendar.”