With just weeks to go before library groups take over running 15 of the city’s 28 branches, Sheffield City Council is pleased to confirm that two organisations have agreed to work together on a joint plan to manage Walkley Library.

Walkley Community Library Futures Group and Forum Café bars both put in bids to run the library. Both bids met the council’s standard so it was suggested that they work together, to benefit from complementary strengths and achieve the best outcome for the library and the community.

Sheffield City Council is now pleased to confirm that the groups have agreed to prepare a joint plan to manage Walkley’s library service and the exhibition, children and study areas.

Given the extra planning involved, the council will continue to support the running of the library slightly longer than other branches, which change management at the end of September. This will ensure that library users have a continued service before the new management team steps in.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, said: “I’m delighted that the Walkley Community Group and Forum have agreed to come together to prepare a joint plan to manage Walkley Library.

“Both have a lot to offer and their combined strengths mean there is the potential for a new and exciting library service in Walkley.

“I’d like to thank both groups for listening to our proposals for joint working and for the amount of work they’ve done so far, and will do to prepare their joint management plan.

“In the meantime, I’m pleased to announce that we will provide extra support to the library from the end of September to make sure the service continues while the extra planning takes place.”

Chris Reece, Chair of the Walkley Community Library Futures Group, said: “We believe there could be great scope to link library events with the catering and social opportunities that will be offered by Forum Café Bars and are hoping to exploit the strengths of both parties to create an exciting proposal.

“However, while a joint enterprise can be seen as a great opportunity to retain the library in an exciting format, we do not underestimate the enormity or complexities of the task.

“With our growing number of friends and volunteers we will strive through negotiations with the council and the Forum to provide a continuing and vibrant library service for the community of Walkley.”

Kane Yeardley, Founder of Forum Café bars, said: “It’s really important to us that we deliver an operation that will work as a library and a restaurant and enhance South Road in Walkley.

”We will be working with the Walkley Community Library Futures Group to develop a joint plan to manage the library and are excited about what this will look like. The feedback we’ve had so far from local people has been amazing and we’re already getting enquiries about when the new facilities will be open.”

Discussions about Burngreave Library are ongoing and Sheffield City Council is committed to do all it can to keep the branch open.

Meanwhile, the council continues to support all library groups with training and has offered a five-year minimum lease option for the library volunteers, with longer arrangements being discussed with groups that requested this in their business plans. This is to make sure the groups are in the best position to bid for funding and make long-term plans for the future of their local branch.

Coun Iqbal added: “We are committed to doing all we can to keep all libraries in the city open. The response from community groups has been incredible and I would like to give my sincere thanks for all their hard work and efforts and the fantastic commitment to the library service they continue to show.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what the new services look like and would encourage everyone to visit their local library to see what’s on offer.”