Mr Smith has raised issues directly with us about library services in Sheffield and I thought it would be useful to set out the council’s view.
I agree with Mr Smith about the importance of libraries and the many benefits that they bring. I would like to thank the volunteers and community groups who have willingly stepped up to help run 15 libraries in Sheffield (shortly to be 16 with Tinsley). Their effort, time and dedication makes a big difference to local communities.
Massive cuts from central government mean that it would be impossible for all our libraries to stay open without the wonderful work the volunteers put in.
Libraries are still one of our major priorities. The council invests around £4.3 million on them each year, but continuing cuts by the Government mean we have had to change the way we manage them.
The changes made in 2014 followed more than two years of reviewing all options and extensive consultation where local people told the council that they wanted to maintain as many libraries as they could, even if this meant things being done differently.
The libraries run by volunteers and community groups are independent of the council and have been since the changes came in.
We support them by providing training and support with things like operating the library computer system for issuing books, but – because they’re independent organisations and not part of the council’s statutory service – we do not specify what data they should monitor.
Together, we will continue to work with our staff, volunteers and community groups to make sure we deliver an excellent library service that the people of Sheffield are proud of.
Of course, our committed library staff will continue to run the Central Lending Library and 11 hub libraries across the city, selected on the basis of needs, location and population.
Thank you to all the volunteers and community groups who have stepped up to ensure we keep all 28 libraries in Sheffield open.
Coun Jack Scott
Cabinet member for community services and libraries