Threatened Sheffield libraries are set to be thrown a lifeline – with the city council ‘looking into’ providing £160,000 funding to cover running costs if volunteers want to take branches over.
Sheffield Council will only continue to run 11 of the current 27 neighbourhood libraries in future years.
The authority had previously said it could only afford to fund five community-run libraries, leaving 11 without any support.
Volunteers would have been forced to find money for running costs such as electricity bills and faced the withdrawal of council computer systems.
But at a packed public meeting to discuss the future of the threatened library in Broomhill, Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for communities, said: “We will look at how we can provide funding for the 11 independent libraries for 12 months.”
He added: “I don’t wake up in the morning wanting to close libraries.
“I have been out to areas across the city to explain our proposals and I am listening to what people have to say. Groups are asking us to provide running costs.”
About 150 people attended the public meeting at Broomhill Methodist Church on Saturday.
One woman asked Coun Iqbal: “Wouldn’t money used for the Off The Shelf literary festival and Tour de France be better spent on libraries?”
Suggestions were made for the council to get extra help from Sheffield University to retain Broomhill library.
Library user Nerissa Kisdon said: “Because the university has a strong library school, would we be able to use their students to help us?”
Sam Wilde, a father of young children, queried why Broomhill’s library was under threat when the suburb ‘ranks as the 11th most needy’.
Labour Coun Jayne Dunn, who represents Broomhill, said options remain open for Broomhill Library – including a move to Weston Park Museum.