New chapter for Sheffield library as it adapts once again to Covid-19 pandemic

When Greenhill Library went into lockdown in March, the building and books were initially off limits.

Saturday, 7th November 2020, 12:30 pm

But the kindness of volunteers and the sense of community prevailed amid the doom and gloom.

As the coronavirus pandemic gathered pace, Greenhill Library, like many other facilties across the country, was forced to close its doors and adapt its services to ensure that book-lovers could continue to access that much-needed literature to help weather the storm that was yet to come.

Now, around eight months later, it is having to do the same once again as new lockdown measures are introduced to reflect what is called the ‘second wave’.

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Greenhill Library volunteer Gill Dawson

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Chris Brown, chairman of the Friends of Greenhill Library, said the library has provided a vital service for many over the last few months – including those who may not even be fans of literature.

He said: “We are a library service first and foremost but the way I normally describe it is a community hub with a library at its centre. So much of what we do is community events, not necessarily lending out books, but that is our core function and that has remained throughout the pandemic.

There was a huge spike in the number of books being borrowed from Greenhill Library before it first closed, Mr Brown said.

Greenhill Library has once again shut its doors for the second national lockdown

In July though, the library launched a click and collect service and latterly welcomed back users for limited browswing.

A month later, the library then held its first-ever scarecrow festival around the village – with residents creating their own straw figures on the streets for all to see – in an effort to get people out in the fresh air and into the community.

Throughout the pandemic it has also hosted virtual talks with speakers who had been due to visit Greenhill Library, while the large lawn outside has been used as a venue for two outdoor book sales and numerous reading events for children.

Mr Brown added: “There were a huge number of books out in the community so we ran a book drop and got some of them back but were deluged with donated books.

Chairman of Friends of Greenhill Library and volunteer Chris Brown

"It caused a problem because our risk assessment said we had to quarantine them for 72 hours, so we had to find space to put them all. There was a huge amount of work being done by the volunteers at that stage and that continues. “

"We’ve also continued to support people in need of hearing aid batteries, which is a free service for people with NHS hearing aids.”

The library entered lockdown for the second time on Thurday, November 5, however it will continue to offer its click and collect service, with hopes of resuming more operations come December.

"We talk about our benefits to the community but part of that is the benefit to our volunteers themselves,” Mr Brown added.

Greenhill Library adapted its service after coming out of the first lockdown

"Our hope is that if we go back into Tier 3 or Tier 2 in December that we can resume our limited browsing – there’s value in that for the volunteers in coming into the library and being able to interact with one another and the community as well.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

Feature on Greenhill Library volunteer Annie Childs
Greenhill library scarecrow festival
Greenhill Library has been described as a community hub with a library at its centre