"Central Library must be restored and respected" - some of our readers' thoughts on Sheffield's Central Library

Every evening we send out a newsletter to our subscribers and each time there’s an intro that focuses on something of note, yesterday we focused on the front-page story about the Central Library and the associated repair costs...

Friday, 13th August 2021, 10:20 am
Updated Friday, 13th August 2021, 1:14 pm

Here’s an extract of what was sent to the readers’

“made for some fairly sobering reading, £30 million is the current tally for repair costs to the city's beautifully historic Central Library. It smacks of forced obsolescence, at least to me. As a child, my mother worked there for many years and I would go there almost everyday and at the weekends, just consuming words from books - in both the Children's and upstairs library - we borrowed movies and I got all of my music from there as a young 'un. If only the upkeep had been continual, gradual, we wouldn't be having this discussion. There are murmurs about moving it to the now abandoned John Lewis... but it would do the iconic building a disservice.”

We had recently received another letter on the topic, which encouraged us to ask our readers what they thought, and so far we have received a few responses… we’d love to know your thoughts on what you think should happen as well, send them in here titled 'Central Library'

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Telephone Enquiry Service, Central Library, 1954. Picture Sheffield ref no S46459

“Agree with every word you've written about our beloved central library. Who made the decision not to maintain it because someone must have ? Way down the list of priorities I assume, its scandalous.

In the eighties going into the nineties, I studied there almost every day that it was open, that lovely, calm, safe building was the place I chose to study for my O levels as a mature student, followed by A levels, a degree and a post grad.

I would also read the journals they had some of the most diverse, interesting subjects, things I was unaware they even wrote about ! from politics to psychology, medical journals, spiritual, geographical, historical even The New York Review of Books. There wasnt any article or publication they couldn't get hold of. Newspaper articles from almost any year ? no problem, itll be on the microfiche, tbe buzz I used to get waiting for them to find it or set it up.

I used to eat in tbe cafe upstairs, spotlessly clean. Toasted tea cakes, sandwiches, sausage roll and brown sauce, flapjack (if I could afford it) and the walk to the cafe from the lift, the silence, the beautiful paintings as you walked through the art gallery, occasionally sitting down on one of the small seats just to absorb the grandness, I was overawed no matter how many times I walked through. The quirky curator who clearly was born to do just that, never did know her name but I used to love listening to her talking to whoever in the cafe, she was SO intelligent, at least I think she was,I remember wishing she would be my friend (although it wouldn't have been tbe longest friendship as I didnt understand most of what she talked about, but just liked the idea of pretending to be part of a conversation with someone so intellectual!)

Researcher Val Hewson at Sheffield Central Library, part of the Heritage Open Days programme. Picture: Steve Ellis

My daughter was born.in 88 and was promptly taken there virtually from birth. I made sure she felt at home and comfortable there so she would love it as much as I did. And she did.We spent many hours there drinking coffee when she was grown up and studying herself.

Sheffields very precious Central Library must be restored and respected and not allowed to close or move elsewhere. Come on Sheffield Council, sort it out!!”

Denise Goddard

( somewhere in Norton)

“Should stay in same building, funding must be found for repairsMove gallery, it’s ridiculous where it is - John Lewis perhaps ! But we do need better more upmarket shops as well as existing ones on The Moor,Fargate is currently awful”

Lee Adams

“Needs to be scrutinised carefully – what exactly would this eye-watering figure be spent on?

More likely a grossly inflated figure as part of a strategy (again!) to justify passing the building to commercial interests.

Our dysfunctional, dishonest Council cannot be trusted”

Russell Johnson

“Yes, indeed. "If only the update had been continual, gradual"....

If only the taking away of funds from city councils by national government had not been continual, gradual.....

If only taxation were fairer and those who make vast sums of money could not find ways of avoiding fair taxation.....

If only there were a national voting system better than "First Past the Post".....

In 2019 the Conservatives got one seat for every 38,264 votes, while Labour got one seat for every 50,837 votes. It took many more votes to elect a Lib Dem (336,038) and Green MP (866,435). (Information from the House of Commons Library)

Perhaps the Central Library will move to the ex John Lewis site. Perhaps the current Central Library building will become another city centre hotel or gymnasium or restaurants or living accommodation for those who need it or....?....

Just some ideas.”

Sue D

And finally, Christine B responded, saying “I worked there in the admin offices for several years. Made some really good friends there. Beautiful building inside and out. I would be devastated to see it go to ruin” — it would be beyond terrible Christine, agreed.

Most importantly, what do you think? Send us your thoughts.