I’m keeping an open mind over library

Central Library and Graves Art Gallery. Picture: Andrew Roe
Central Library and Graves Art Gallery. Picture: Andrew Roe
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I have to admit my first reaction on hearing the plan to convert the Central Library to a 5-star hotel was to say no way.

In the past I’ve borrowed books, spent time studying or searching whilst sitting at the pine wood tables.

I’ve read the newspapers and magazines and sat with a pad of paper trying to write letters, articles or short stories.

Recently my wife and I attended an excellent talk by railway expert Stephen Gay on the Hope Valley line and it’s surrounding countryside.

I bought some Christmas cards from him with photos of trains journeying through the snowscape.

However as I started to think, much as I love the building, it’s atmosphere and public space, it does need a lot of money spending on it and as I well know as an ex local authority accountant that is a commodity in short supply.

So I’m taking an open mind.

If the scheme is a good one then we must consider it.

If the first floor Graves Art Gallery is an update with a shop and cafe and is promoted properly.

If the Library Theatre is kept-updated maybe.

If we get a new City Centre library with all the facilities of the old one and maybe more.

The reported £1 million a year in business rates from the hotel could be added to the current library budget.

The new library should be open before work starts on the hotel - and it does need a central location.

If we are serious about making the most of our history why not relocate to a historic Sheffield building.

I’m thinking the old town hall/courthouse or maybe the old Sheffield Co-Op building on Angel Street.

Both these buildings need restoring but with a new function and what better than a public library?

If we also got a proper archaeological excavation of the castle site, a new city centre park and garden showing off what remains we hope are there with a visitor centre/museum then there is a real chance to invigorate a sadly run down part of the city.

Hopefully politicians from all the local parties will engage constructively with discussions free of petty point scoring and we can get something we all want.

Simon Freeman

Oakland Road, S6