Plea for volunteers to take on Sheffield libraries

Granville Wilkinson, pictured at  Walkley Library,
Granville Wilkinson, pictured at Walkley Library,
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A CALL to arms has been issued to Sheffield community groups to run libraries - as council officials revealed the results of a consultation into the future of the service.

Sheffield Council says up to 14 of 27 community libraries could be axed as part of a £1.6 million cut to the £6.4m library budget for 2013-14.

At the end of this month, an eight-week period will be launched where interested groups can come forward with ideas to run libraries.

The council says a prospectus will be made available giving information about the library branches, and groups will be invited to lodge their interest.

But Grenville Wilkinson, of Walkley Community Forum, said: “I have doubts about whether we would be able to save our library if it was under threat, unless the council could still contribute towards running costs.

“We cannot access funds of the kind needed to run such a building - you are talking tens of thousands of pounds or business sponsorship.”

Sheffield Council said it has received more than 6,000 responses to a questionnaire on the future of the library service.

Some 93 per cent said they were users of the service with over 1,200 responses for Central Library alone.

Respondents said they wanted libraries to be open most on Saturday mornings and Friday afternoons, and rated the quality and choice of books as the most important factor.

Ideas put forward for bringing in more money included greater use of volunteers, increasing fees and charges for printing and computer services, and broader use of buildings for community uses.

Users also called for more facilities to be added at libraries such as coffee bars, cafés or newsagents.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for community services, said: “We are asking our local communities, charities, organisations and the business community to propose if they could help us run the library service and still provide a service to local people.”

What do you think about the library consultation?