Sheffield pupils take library battle to Town Hall

Petition to council in opposition to proposed closure of Totley Library
Petition to council in opposition to proposed closure of Totley Library
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Schoolchildren in Sheffield made a stand for their local library in front of a packed council chamber.

Youngsters from Dore Primary School made impassioned pleas at yesterday’s full Sheffield Council meeting over proposals to close Totley Library.

The Year Six pupils, aged 10 and 11, took it in turns to address councillors who have named the Baslow Road facility as one of the 16 libraries facing the axe in a bid to cut costs.

The youngsters also handed over 200 copies of a survey completed by pupils in primary and secondary schools in south-west Sheffield – the findings of which showed almost two-thirds of children would stop using libraries altogether if their local Totley Library was to close.

Ben Stead, aged 10, said: “A lot of young people will read less if the library closes and they cannot choose books. Young children’s love of stories can start in the library.

“Children will be robbed of many learning opportunities if Totley Library closes.”

Freya Miller, 10, told the meeting: “Totley Library offers so much more than books. It is also a meeting place for many community groups including story groups, crafts for children, yoga and history groups.”

Public consultation on the library proposals ends in January.

A final decision is expected the following month.

Coun Mahzer Iqbal, council cabinet member for communities and inclusion, told the youngsters: “No decision has been taken to close any library.

“As part of proposals, we want to hear from adults and older people, but also young people.

“When money reduces we have to do things differently. Myself and my colleagues are working tirelessly to try and keep as many open as we can.

“You should tell your friends and parents to fill out consultation forms.”

Campaigners from Save Totley Library say the average journey time for residents to get to another library in Sheffield is 38 minutes.

There are also concerns the closure could isolate the area’s over-65 population, the biggest in the city.

Coun Colin Ross, member for Dore and Totley, said; “I was impressed with the pupils. They made a strong case for keeping Totley Library open.

“The recent international survey of education standards shows we as a nation are not making the progress we should.

“Shutting libraries the pupils regularly use will not help.”