I can’t believe, and nor can anyone I’ve spoken to since I read the news that the council is considering selling off the Central Library to make way for a posh hotel.
This city has few enough historic and handsome civic buildings as it is, without this one being got rid of. The defence and retention of public spaces for use by the public was never more important than now, with predatory speculators and developers on the lookout for properties that will further enhance their bank balances but diminish the public’s right of access.
The fact that the building concerned is the city’s Central Library makes the proposed sale even more perverse.
I’ve been living in Sheffield for more than 50 years and I’ve made extensive use of the library’s facilities, as have countless thousands of others, whether it is for reading the papers, using the computers, investigating local history, borrowing books that are otherwise unobtainable or too expensive, introducing children to the pleasures and discipline of reading and writing, or heading up to the top floor for the artistic exhibitions or just a cup of tea.
Coming as it does in the wake of the drastic cuts in library provision over recent years, it amounts to cultural vandalism and reflects badly on the council’s awareness of the importance of institutions such as libraries for popular education and a sense of our civic responsibilities and possibilities.
How the council can square the proposed sale with its purported belief in the value of education for all, but especially for the less well-off, is beyond me. The council should reconsider the decision and find some other way of raising what I assume is much-needed cash.
Conduit Rd, S10