Campaigners call for changes in Sheffield's libraries

Campaigners who want to abolish volunteer libraries and have council staff in all of Sheffield's 28 libraries have handed in a petition.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 3:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 3:23 pm

Save Sheffield Libraries collected 127 names demanding that all 16 volunteer run branch libraries are brought back under council control.

They also want library fines to be abolished and want the council to apply for funding to restore Central, Walkley Carnegie and Tinsley Carnegie libraries "to their former glory".

A spokesman for Sheffield Libraries SOS said: "The current service delivery model for libraries in Sheffield is arguably driven more by political ideology and a focus on outsourcing and localism as opposed to being driven by budget cuts. It has resulted in a two-tier service and fragmentation of a once joined up service.

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Central Library

"Abolishing library fines would encourage more users who may currently be put off by large library fines, especially those in poverty.

"Expanded professional library provision would enhance digital inclusion and ensure people are not left isolated by not being able to access services online especially in poorer areas."

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Coun Mary Lea, the Cabinet member in charge of libraries, said nationally and in Sheffield there had been a decline in library use over a number of years.

But she said there were still 900,000 loans from council libraries a year with one million visits and another 6,500 home visits.

She told a Cabinet meeting: "As the panemdeic started we invested £20,000 in the e-books service and saw an extra 2,000 people sign up to become borrowers.

"Volunteer libraries have seen a reduction in their loans but that's from the council's library system, they also have their own collections.

"The national data on the number of book loans doesn't include volunteer libraries and we need to make sure these figures are included.

"Funding for volunteer libraries is £209,000 a year and this year they will also receive £10,000 one off funding, including the council run libraries, for whatever the library feels they need."

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