Residents step up bid to stop library closure

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Every home in Totley, Bradway and Dore will be targeted over the next ten days by campaigners trying to save Totley Library from closure.

More than 50 volunteers will deliver leaflets to 7,000 homes across south-west Sheffield, urging residents to respond to a council consultation programme and to sign petitions.

The move follows a protest march and public action meeting at Dore and Totley United Reform Church Hall, which was attended by more than 100 residents.

Mat Kik, of the Save Totley Library campaign, said the audience included representatives of community organisations, children, the elderly and vulnerable, who were in danger of losing the last publicly-funded building in the area.He said: “It’s clear that many people are still unaware of the council’s plans to close more than half the city libraries. So we will make sure that every one of the 7,000 homes in the area knows the extent of this cultural vandalism, and has the opportunity to make their voice heard through the council’s consultation.

“The closure plans are not just savage - they simply don’t stack up. Even by the council’s own estimation, it would cost just £140,000 per year to save all libraries from closure by turning them into community libraries, funded by the council, but staffed by volunteers, a drop in the ocean for its £1bn budget and still saving them £1.46m.”

A petition to save the Totley library has been signed so far by more than 2,000 people.

Meanwhile, the council this week started a series of workshops to help guide groups interested in taking over the running of local libraries.

Advice and information are being given on managing volunteers, dealing with book loans and responsibilities for managing the building.

People interested in running their library will be encouraged to submit a business plan to the council as part of a consultation programme.

Council cabinet member Mazher Iqbal said: “It is great to see people taking an interest in their local library and it really heartens me to see that people want to keep their libraries open and are willing to step up and do what it takes to help make this a reality.

“At the end of the day we want to keep as many libraries open as possible. The Government has left us with little choice other than to reduce library funding because of the devastating cuts they have dealt Sheffield.”