Public libraries are, like the NHS, a cradle to grave service. Apart from a source of education and recreation for the older members of our society, they are also a starting point for the children of today. It will be a lucky few if Sheffield City Council succeeds in closing almost half its libraries.
No small number of those who lose out will be those who rely on the threatened mobile library service, particularly those who live in Sheffield’s large rural areas. Let’s not forget the increasing importance of libraries in this recession. More and more unemployed people, and those on benefits, are using their libraries to access the internet as they are expected by the government, local authorities and job centres, to look for work and apply for benefits. A significant percentage of Sheffield’s population would be completely excluded from essential services and resources.
Cuts to services and staff are being made across the Council. £1.66 million is the library service’s share of the burden. Yet suddenly the council has announced it will put up £900,000 to facilitate the Tour de France coming to Sheffield in 2014. £900.000 that would help keep present services going. Public libraries in Sheffield have been around since 1856. The Tour de France will have come and gone in a day – and what will the city benefit from it?Unison is working hard in campaigning to prevent the reduction in the city’s library service, and to keep the jobs of professional and dedicated library staff.
Sheffield Unison branch