Half of Sheffield's libraries facing axe

Walkley Library Walkley Library is among 16 under threat of closure

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More than half of Sheffield's libraries could shut within two years unless community groups step in to save them.

Sheffield City Council is proposing to retain just 12 of the city's 28 facilities as "key" libraries.

A further five would become "community-led" libraries, receiving guaranteed council funding for two years, while 11 would become "independent" facilities.

Despite the plans, the council said it would still provide a "comprehensive and efficient" service.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, said "no decisions" had been made and the council wanted to hear the view of the community.

'Support community libraries'

"These proposals are about making sure we get the best deal for the city in the context of devastating cuts from the government," he said.

"A number of libraries will be at risk of closure and jobs will be lost."

Proposed library service shake-up

  • Key libraries: Central, Chapeltown, Crystal Peaks, Darnall, Ecclesall, Firth Park, Highfield, Hillsborough, Manor, Parson Cross, Stocksbridge, Woodseats
  • Community Libraries (proposed): Newfield Green, Woodhouse, Southey, Burngreave, Park
  • Independent Libraries (eligible): Ecclesfield, Jordanthorpe, Greenhill, Broomhill, Tinsley*, Upperthorpe, Stannington, Frecheville, Gleadless, Totley, Walkley
  • *Tinsley library will remain open until 2016 due to financial commitments by the council over the lease of the building

According to the proposal, Central Library and 11 other libraries across the city would be open six days a week.

The council said it had identified funding for five community-led libraries for a pilot period lasting two years.

However, the funding would not cover staff costs and the libraries would only stay open if volunteers could be found to run the facilities.

The council said the remaining 11 libraries "are likely to be closed" as research into independent libraries shows the method is "not a long-term sustainable proposal".

But, it said it would not rule out any viable proposal for running libraries on an independent basis.

"We will ensure there is a comprehensive and efficient library service for the whole city based around Central Library and 11 other main libraries," Mr Iqbal said.

"In addition, we are looking to support community-led libraries and will also look at working with groups who may want to run independent libraries."

A three-month consultation period will begin in October.

The council has said it needs to slash £1.6m from its library services budget by 2016.

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