Volunteers praised for saving Sheffield library service after cutbacks

Michael Tootell, Tracy Brown, Jessica Hall, Angel Milao, Viv Ratcliffe, Jean Jones and Joanne Marsden.
Michael Tootell, Tracy Brown, Jessica Hall, Angel Milao, Viv Ratcliffe, Jean Jones and Joanne Marsden.
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Community volunteers are writing a new chapter in the history of their local library as they get to grips with the challenges of running it for themselves.

The Park Community Action group has been running Park Library on Duke Street with Sheffield Council support since September 29.

It follows council cutbacks which have led to 15 libraries across the city being handed over to community groups to save them from the threat of closure.

About 50 volunteers have been helping out at Park Library for the past month - with ambitious organisers hoping to open a new community cafe in the centre where the library is based.

Tracy Brown, volunteer co-ordinator for the library, said there have been some ‘teething problems’ with computer systems, but volunteers are starting to get more used to providing the service.

She said: “The first month has been about us familiarising ourselves with the library and what is within it and the computer systems. It has been quite a challenge.

“We have been able to provide a service but it will take a while before we are fully au fait with what we are doing.

“People are glad they can still come to a local library and the reaction from the public has been really good.

“They have been really appreciative that people are committed to keeping their library open.

“It was never going to be ideal but we have people who are committed to turning up and it is learning as we go.”

She said it is hoped the cafe could be opened by April next year once the library volunteers are more confident in their roles. Tracy said the group is looking for more volunteers to come forward as the library looks to run family activity days and school visits in future.