Letter: This cobbled-together free-for-all of a library service is a mess

This letter sent to the Star was written by Harriett Ferguson, Sheffield, S3

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 06:05 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 06:23 am
Stannington Library

Steve Webster's letter: "Why don't you visit the library, Mr Vaughan", about Stannington Library, highlights more ways the volunteer library model is hindering access to knowledge and literature in the city.

Mr Webster says that "volunteers have bought 8,000 since taking over the running of the library", that is 8,000 books which are only available to users of Stannington Library who have signed up to the library's own separate borrowing service. Any books donated to or bought by volunteer libraries go in their own stock which is accessed in a similar way; these books are not available to search for on the Sheffield libraries catalogue online or for reservation at any other library.

By contrast, any books donated to Sheffield libraries still run by the council are either added to the main catalogue making them available to anyone with a Sheffield library card to reserve at any Sheffield library or are sold on to raise funds for books for the same system.

People like Andrew Carnegie and John George Graves who were instrumental in setting up and supporting libraries in the city abhorred cliques. The way the volunteer libraries are set up restricting knowledge in this way is totally against the ethos of what public libraries are and what they always have been, that is having all stock available to all library users regardless of which location the books and other materials are stored in.

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Also, when all libraries were directly run by the council, book stock was rotated with any of the other 27 libraries in the city on a regular basis; this also appears to have ceased under the volunteer-run model.

This cobbled-together free-for-all of a library service is a mess and needs to be brought back under council control.