Campaign group ‘to speak up for libraries’

A CAMPAIGN group has been formed to resist cuts to libraries in Sheffield.

‘Library Workers For A Brighter Future’ urges library workers and users to work together not just to protect the service but “to forge a dynamic library service that is central to the revitalising of our local communities”.

A spokesperson said: “As uncertainty grows around the future of public libraries, many feel the time has come to speak up for Sheffield libraries now, rather than waiting for the axe to fall. While we do know that Barnsley recently announced the loss of eight of its libraries and Leeds could shut as many as 20, not until the local authority budget is officially announced in April 2011 will it become clear how much of the burden libraries in Sheffield will be expected to bear.

“What is clear is that if the argument over the necessity of cuts is lost, then the impact of a reduced library service could be devastating for the people of Sheffield.”

Cuts will mean the scaling back of “hugely successful initiatives such as the summer reading challenge”, it is argued. “Reduced access to library services will mean job seekers without home internet access will find it increasingly harder to apply for work online. Regular borrowers will also find their choice severely restricted with book funds slashed.

“Older library users will miss the regular interaction with staff and other library users if they find their local library is to be shut and local community organisations and book groups will find it difficult to find a place to meet and discuss their shared passions.

“And while politicians have claimed they will do their utmost to ensure the impact on ‘frontline services’ will be minimised, as with any organisation, libraries are dependent upon so-called ‘backroom’ jobs such as the processing and cataloguing of books, building maintenance, the transporting of stock and maintaining an efficient computer system to ensure that the service itself can work effectively.”

The council is currently drawing up spending plans for next year, with all departments being asked to work on the basis of 30% cuts over four years.