Library volunteers hailed Sheffield ‘saviours’

Campaigners and protesters against proposed library closures gather outside Sheffield Town Hall.
Campaigners and protesters against proposed library closures gather outside Sheffield Town Hall.
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Volunteers who stepped in to take over Sheffield libraries have been hailed ‘saviours’.

Community groups had business plans approved for libraries across the city on Wednesday – with all that were under threat expected to stay open.

The decision to relinquish Sheffield Council control of 15 libraries to save cash inspired one of the biggest protests the city has seen.

Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg paid tribute to the hundreds of ‘saviours’ who had come forward.

He said: “We have to say a big thank you to the amazing community groups that prepared these plans. Countless volunteers have put in an incredible effort to ensure libraries stay open.

“Many people will still have concerns about the long-term future of our libraries. I’m continuing to push the council to support them.”

The council said 66 full-time equivalent library posts are to go, but staff are taking redundancy or early retirement. Some are being transferred to other libraries.

Jenny van Tinteran, chairman of the Stannington group, said: “Our thoughts are with staff – they have all done a fantastic job up to now.

“It’s great to get over the first hurdle but now the real work begins.”

Some readers online were critical of the change.

One wrote: “I think it is good communities are getting together to save libraries, yet it’s also criminal that Sheffield Council have let it get this bad to begin with and anyone losing a job is wrong.”

Two library groups continue to wait for a final decision on their proposals.

Burngreave campaigners have been granted an extension on their plan and at Walkley library, where two groups want to take it over, there will be further talks in the coming days.

Chris Reece, of the Walkley Community Libraries Future Group, said: “We are disappointed not to have a decision at this stage but we will carry on with our robust plan with the support of volunteers.”