All libraries in Sheffield are set to stay open as the Council announces it has approved plans from groups to run branches from the end of September.
Groups were invited to submit business plans for 15 libraries after the Government cut 50% of funding to the Council, which has forced £240 million of savings requiring £1.67 million from the libraries budget over the next two years, which means the Council cannot afford to continue running them all.
The Council reveals today that the libraries are set to stay open as business plans have now been approved for 13 libraries. Two groups submitted business plans for Walkley Library, both meeting the required standard. Therefore discussions with them are ongoing and Burngreave Library has been granted an extension.
With the Council continuing to run the Central Lending Library and 11 hub libraries across the city, and Tinsley remaining under Council control for the next two years, all 28 libraries across the city look set to remain open.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, said:
“I’m delighted to announce today that all of our libraries are on track to remain open and would like to thank the groups for their fantastic efforts.
“The business plans put forward set out a viable future for the libraries and we will support them by funding building running costs, providing access to the Council’s library catalogue and computer service, helping train volunteers and providing ongoing advice and support.
“As I have said many times, we want to keep as many libraries open as possible. We wouldn’t be making these changes if we didn’t have to but Government cuts are impacting on every service the Council provides and we are no longer able to run all of the libraries as we were before.
“This is why some of them will now be community run libraries. The response we’ve had from the community has been great and clearly demonstrates the commitment we share to keeping the libraries open.”
The Council will maintain the library buildings and associated costs for five Co-delivered libraries which will be staffed by volunteers, with up to 15 hours of support per week from Council staff.
Ten Associate libraries will be staffed and maintained by volunteers with the Council providing up to £262,000 support per year for up to three years to help them get established and make sure they can pay the running costs of the building, such as heating and lighting.
Associate libraries will also be able to access the Council’s library catalogue and computers. Volunteers will be given training and ongoing support to help them become sustainable into the future.
Kathryn Taylor, Project Manager for the Woodhouse & District Community Forum, said:
“I’m so pleased with the outcome of the business case review, for us and for all the volunteers.
“The next step is to look at the transition to when we take control of the library. Our aim is to provide the same level of service which Woodhouse has always had, and then to look at what else we can do. As a community group, we’re able to access different funding and we want to make more of the library space and the activities we have planned.
“We want to provide something for all ages in Woodhouse. We’re looking at whether we could have a crèche type service so parents are able to have the time to choose books they’d really like to borrow, rather than get the first one they pick up.
“We’re also looking at drama workshops for young people, adult education and crafts and friendship groups for older people. Of course, all of this will need planning and timetabling in but we’re working really hard at providing something for all ages in Woodhouse.”
STAND (Stannington and District Library Group) spokesman Bob Mynors said:
“We’ve done a huge amount of work to get to this point and are really pleased our plans have been approved.
“We’ve got a big job to do between now and the end of September so everyone is busy working towards this. The Council is providing training to volunteers who will be public facing and we will cascade this to all our volunteers. We’re also fundraising and will be establishing ourselves as a charity.
“We want to let everyone know who we are and that the library is staying open. There is a lot of goodwill towards the library in Stannington. We think it is right to keep it open and that there are enough people to use it.
“We want to make sure things run smoothly from the first morning we open. Longer term now we’ve got the library we will also be thinking what else we can do with it. It’s a convenient and really accessible building and we want to make the most of it.”
Groups are on track to take responsibility for the Co-delivered and Associate libraries from the end of September.