Pressure grows for rethink over city library closures

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Sheffield City Council is coming under increasing community pressure to save up to 16 branches libraries threatened with closure.

Residents in Broomhill, Totley, Stannington, Walkley, Greenhill and Frecheville are among those holding meetings, organising petitions and generally pressing the council to keep them open.

Almost 900 people have signed an online petition to save Broomhill Library, which is described as “a thriving, successful public library”, and one that runs activities and acts as a community centre, especially for those without easy access to the internet.

Petition organiser Edward Snelson said the library was “saveable.

“People will get behind it, but it needs the council to give some options.”

Dr Snelson said Barnsley had “made every effort” to save its libraries. “We are not seeing that. I can’t believe what they (the council) are planning. It feels like they have made their decision and they are going through a public relations exercise as opposed to a solution finding exercise.”

Community representatives in Broomhill and the council have been trying for years to find alternative premises for the old library in Taptonville Road, without success, but the petition indicates the depth of feeling over the threat to the current facilities.

One objector questions the council spending £900,000 on a single day for the Tour de France next summer “when we are thinking about closing libraries and leisure centres ... Our children use the library. It is extremely important in fuelling their love of books ... The proposed closing of Broomhill and Walkley libraries leaves a large catchment area without access to a library.”

Dr Snelson said it was important public made their views known through the council’s online consultation, before final decisions were taken.

Nick Clegg joined Broomhill campaigners in Crosspool shopping centre last Friday, maintaining that it was essential to communities in Crosspool, Crookes and Sandygate. Mr Clegg has also showed his support for Stannington library.

In Totley, a family fun day highlighted opposition to the proposed closure of the branch Library. “It was absolutely heaving,” said local Lib Dem councillor Colin Ross.

Campaigners hope to persuade the council to save the library, but the community is also thinking of taking it over, in which case it would press the authority to give some financial help towards running costs. A protest march is planned.

Cabinet member Coun Mazher Iqbal said money-saving ideas were emerging, such as moving Broomhill Library into Weston Park Museum and moving Gleadless Valley tenants’ hall and housing office into the library.