Hundreds of volunteers offer help to run closure-threatened libraries

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Libraries across Sheffield have been saved from closure after community groups had their business plans approved to take over their running.

The new chapter will see community groups run 15 
libraries across the city which were relinquished from council control in a controversial cash-saving measure.

Campaigners and protesters against proposed library closures gather outside Sheffield Town Hall.

Campaigners and protesters against proposed library closures gather outside Sheffield Town Hall.

Groups submitted business plans earlier this month to take over the running of the libraries from September and now an assessment panel has considered and approved them.

Hundreds of volunteers came forward to take over the running of the 15 libraries which were under threat of closure.

The groups are a mixture of established and newly formed organisations with volunteers ranging from teenagers and university students to people with full-time jobs and pensioners.

Kathryn Taylor, project manager for the Woodhouse and District Community Forum, said the community had rallied together after the library was threatened with closure and volunteers as young as 13 had offered their time.

She added: “I’m so pleased with the outcome of the business case review, for us and for all the volunteers.

“The next step is to look at the transition to when we take control of the library.

“Our aim is to provide the same level of service which Woodhouse has always had, and then to look at what else we can do.

“As a community group, we’re able to access different funding and we want to make more of the library space and the activities we have planned.”

Bob Mynors, of Stannington and District Library Group – which was formed following the closure announcement – said: “We want to let everyone know who we are and that the library is staying open.

“There is a lot of goodwill towards the library in Stannington. We think it is right to keep it open and that there are enough people to use it.

“We want to make sure things run smoothly from the first morning we open. Longer term, now we’ve got the library we will also be thinking what else we can do with it. It’s a convenient and really accessible building and we want to make the most of it.”

Patrick Coghlan, chairman of Greenhill Library, said 100 volunteers had come forward.

“The challenge ahead now promises to be exciting but we all now look forward to working together with others including Sheffield Libraries Service and other associate libraries with the goal of making a success at keeping our local community’s library service open for business,” he added.