Some Sheffield libraries could go private

Darnall Library''16 September 2013'Image � Paul David Drabble'
Darnall Library''16 September 2013'Image � Paul David Drabble'
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Limited companies, community forums, charities and a bar are among those who have answered the call to save Sheffield libraries from closure.

The list of 27 individuals and organisations who have expressed an interest in taking over 16 under-threat facilities in the city has been revealed for the first time.

Last week Sheffield Council announced plans to keep 11 council-run libraries open and said it was working with a number of parties to save the remaining venues from closing completely.

Community forums in Tinsley, Broomhill, Banner Cross, Foxhill, Darnall, Park, Southey, Carter Knowle and Millhouses have all registered their interest. Ecclesfield Parish Council and the local history group have been in talks over taking over the running of services in their area.

In Darnall, the not-for-profit group would merge post office services with the library.

In Hillsborough, Walkley, Woodseats and Ecclesall there has been interest from Forum Cafe Bars Ltd, looking to develop a wine bar or restaurant to incorporate a library.

Registered charity the Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust has expressed interest in managing all libraries, archives and information services on behalf of Sheffield Council.

A company called the Online Centres Foundation has also submitted an expression of interest for taking over all of Sheffield’s libraries, transferring staff and operating on a digital-first basis. An ‘online book archiving and delivery service’ would send books to homes ‘for a small postage fee’.

Five unnamed individuals have volunteered their support and time at certain branches and at the under-threat mobile service.

Jan Fitzgerald, director of community services at Sheffield Council, said: “After consultation we had a lot of interest. Different groups want to use libraries in different ways.”

The council has funding to maintain five libraries, staffed by volunteers, for two years.