Fears for future of Sheffield library sites

Closures 'avoidable': Nick Clegg.

Closures 'avoidable': Nick Clegg.

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Readers at one of Sheffield least-visited libraries fear they could be stripped of a vital service as budgets are cut.

Jordanthorpe Library is the city’s second quietest with 54,317 visitors in 2010/11 – just over 1,000 a week – sparking fears that the branch could be scrapped to save money.

But Jordanthorpe Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, which donates books and other equipment to the library each year, warned that the community would suffer if locals were forced to travel far afield to find an alternative.

Committee member Paul Bingham, 63, of Ormand Road, said: “I use the library and I know a lot of other people who do. Where is the next nearest library from here? You’d have to go all the way to Woodseats or Greenhill. It would be a bad thing for the area.”

Sheffield Council’s consultation on the future of the city’s 28 libraries ends on October 8. The authority warns that closures cannot be ruled out as it reviews its £6 million libraries budget.

Language barriers have hampered efforts to raise awareness of the threat posed to the city’s least-visited library, on Bawtry Road, Tinsley. It received just 47,387 visits in 2010/11.

Graham Whitfield, manger of Tinsley Forum, said the service was a ‘centrepiece’ of the neighbourhood and would be a big loss.

Graham said: “We are currently working with the council team who are undertaking the reviews of libraries to try and get more feedback from within Tinsley, as language barriers are causing problems in people replying.”

One local, 52-year-old Steve Pendlebury, of St Lawrence Road, was unaware that Tinsley Library’s fate was uncertain.

He said: “I thought the library was quite well-used. 
“But if it is the least used in Sheffield, I suppose the threat is understandable. ”

Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said closure of libraries was ‘unnecessary and avoidable’.

He said: “I’ve called on the Labour council to shelve expensive projects such as refurbishing rooms in the Town Hall, so closing libraries can be ruled out.”

The consultation survey can be filled in online at www.sheffield.gov.uk/libraryreview or at any of the city’s libraries.

What do you think about the future of libraries? Email: letters@thestar.co.uk.