Thousands have say on libraries

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thousands of people have given their views on the future of Sheffield’s libraries as the consultation that will decide their fate enters its final fortnight.

More than 4.000 users have registered their opinions on the council’s review of its £6 million libraries budget.

They include visitors to some of the city’s least-used branches, who fear their libraries could fall victim to spending cuts.

Sheffield Council insists no branches have been singled out to shut, but has warned closures are a possibility.

And despite a sluggish start to the consultation process, it said it has seen a ‘strong response’.

Tinsley Library was used just 47,387 times - fewer than 1,000 visits a week - during 2010/11.

That has provoked fears that the branch, on Bawtry Road, could be first to face the axe.

Graham Whitfield, manager of Tinsley Forum, warned closing the library would rob the community of a focal point.

He said: “It provides an invaluable service to a diverse community who are slowly being stripped of assets and services.

“It would be a great shame that, just after about £500,000 has been spent on improvements to land at the front of Highgate Shopping Centre, the centrepiece of the centre could close.”

“People I’ve talked to feel strongly the library should stay open.

“It is regularly used by local schools and many members of the community for reading, using the computers and social meetings.”

But Mr Whitfield said many members of the Tinsley community were not aware the library could shut.

A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “Responses to the consultation have risen quickly after a slow start.

“We have had thousands of responses and it has been advertised at major events including ones in Sheffield city centre, so it has had quite a high profile.

“Obviously there will always be some people who haven’t heard about it, but we have had a strong response overall.”

n The consultation process will be open until October 8.

The survey can be filled in at www.sheffield.gov.uk/libraryreview