Volunteers welcome Sheffield Council's library funding pledge

Volunteers have welcomed Sheffield Council's plan to keep funding community-run libraries until 2020.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 28th November 2016, 1:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:27 pm
Bob Mynors at Stannington Library.

Members of the cabinet will be asked on Wednesday to continue supporting 16 libraries that were taken out of local authority control in 2014, in an attempt to save £650,000 a year.

At the time the council agreed grants of up to £262,000 a year for 11 'associate libraries' - run and maintained by volunteers - and 15 hours of support from council staff per week for five 'co-delivered' libraries.

The support packages run out in March next year, and the council is now proposing a new package of £655,000 for associate libraries, spread over three years until 2020.

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Support for co-delivered libraries, such as building costs, would continue for the same period.

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Bob Mynors, one of the volunteer managers at Stannington Library, said: “Stannington Library welcomes the renewed package of support from the council, as this will give us some financial stability for at least the next three years.

"We’re also pleased that it’s not just about grants but about other forms of professional and practical support as well.

"This helps us to run efficient libraries, and shows how much the council values the work of all the library volunteers.”

The preferred option does come with a warning, though. A report to councillors ahead of Wednesday's meeting says: "If there is a budget reduction in future years for the library, archives and information service, it may not be affordable for the service to continue to pay for all of the co-delivered libraries from its core budget."

Other options considered by council officers were to cut all funding and support, or to support either associate or co-delivered libraries.

Funding for any plan would need to be approved in the 2017/18 budget.

Cabinet member for community services and libraries Jack Scott said the support package showed 'how important libraries are to us'.

He added: “Despite the massive budget cuts imposed on us by Government we’re looking to maintain the funding next year at the existing level and then guarantee a minimum amount for the next two years.

"I hope this gives certainty to the library volunteers who are doing a brilliant job and delivering an important service for the people of Sheffield.”#

The council still runs 12 libraries: the Central Lending Library, Chapeltown, Crystal Peaks, Darnall, Ecclesall, Firth Park, Highfield, Hillsborough, Manor, Parson Cross, Stocksbridge and Woodseats.

The five co-delivered libraries are Broomhill, Burngreave, Park, Southey and Woodhouse.

The 11 associate libraries are Ecclesfield, Frecheville, Gleadless, Greenhill, Jordanthorpe, Newfield Green, Stannington, Tinsley, Totley, Upperthorpe and Walkley.

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