Sheffield library closures would be ‘disaster’

Jennylee Wingfield and son Daniel, aged four, at Jordanthorpe Library.
Jennylee Wingfield and son Daniel, aged four, at Jordanthorpe Library.
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READERS at poorly-used Sheffield libraries say any moves to close branches would be a ‘disaster’.

The reaction comes after The Star obtained figures showing huge differences in how libraries are used.

Under-used libraries in some parts of Britain have been targeted for closure and Sheffield already lost its smallest community library, Limpsfield, in Wincobank last year.

It was taken over by the neighbouring school and is no longer open to the public.

Sheffield Council is now carrying out a public consultation ahead of a review of its £6 million annual library budget - and says some closures cannot be ruled out.

The authority promised it has ‘no secret hit list’, but refused to release most recent figures for library use in 2011/12.

But statistics for the previous year show some branches are used six times as much as others.

Libraries at Tinsley and Jordanthorpe had the lowest number of visits, books borrowed and internet use.

But today residents in both areas urged the council to keep them open.

Tinsley Library, in a shopping parade on Bawtry Road, was used 47,387 times during 2010/11 - fewer than 100 visits a week.

But retired engineer George Westwood, aged 85, said: “I know a lot of people who go to the library. A lot are pensioners but there are also families. I have to use a mobility scooter to get around so it would be difficult to go elsewhere.”

Sabah Sajjad, aged 23, of Tinsley, who has just graduated from a radiotherapy degree at Hallam University, said: “I think it is a great service. You can never get near a computer at weekends because so many youngsters are using them. They could improve on the variety of books to attract more people, though.”

Graham Kirk, 67, a motor mechanic, added: “If it went it would mean even fewer facilities in Tinsley, when there are a lot of families who go to the library, the local veterans’ association holds coffee mornings there, and it is used by other community groups.”

His mum, Irene Kirk, 94, said: “I’ve been using Tinsley Library since I was at school, when it was in its past location at the corner of Norborough Road. It would be a bad thing to lose it.”

Great grandmother Mary Wainwright, 97, visiting the library with her daughter, Dorothy Anthony, 69, added: “They should keep the library open.”

John Wright, 82, a former Blackburn Meadows power station worker, said: “Libraries are the easiest thing to cut but they improve society. It is one of the few things apart from the bins that I get for my council tax.

“There are no buses to the next-nearest library, in Darnall, so people would have difficulty going there.”

Second quietest of Sheffield’s libraries is Jordanthorpe, used 54,317 times in 2010/11 - just over 100 times a week.

Bridget Doman, 59, an unemployed customer service adviser from Batemoor, said: “Closure would be a disaster. I am in the library several days a week to use the computers while job hunting and I take books out.

“This library covers quite a large area which also includes part of Norton.

“They could look at making a small charge for computer use to bring in some income or having evening opening to attract more working people.”

Jennylee Wingfield, 28, a full-time mum-of-two visiting the library with her son, Daniel, four, said: “I bring my children to the library and all my friends come with their kids to borrow books, use computers and join the activities. We need it.”

n DROP-IN sessions are being held at Sheffield Town Hall tomorrow from 12.30pm to 4pm, and on Tuesday, September 25, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, for people to give their views

And people can fill in a survey online at www.sheffield.gov.uk/libraryeview or at any of the community, mobile and home library services before October 8.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council’s cabinet for communities, said: “We need a modern service which is not only affordable but will also work efficiently. It is no secret we may have to make some uncomfortable decisions because of massive government cuts.”