LETTER: Think of libraries in devolution debate
A big thank to the librarians at Bakewell Library when I visited recently. Having librarians present was a pleasant, if bittersweet reminder of the wonderful library staff we lost at Stannington Library in Sheffield in 2014.
I was interested whilst in the library to see a consultation on Chesterfield and parts of Derbyshire joining the Sheffield City Region as part of the devolution deal being negotiated by Sheffield with the government.
I would plead with Derbyshire/Chesterfield library users to consider how much you value your local library when considering this deal.
The policy in Sheffield on libraries has seen them become an extremely low priority, with outlying areas such as Stannington and several vital branch libraries in deprived areas among others reduced to volunteer-run book drops, with our council even having the audacity to cut hours at the remaining 12 staffed libraries at the same time as handing 16 of them over to volunteers. One at the Walkley (ironically, the city’s only Carnegie Library) is even about to be turned into a pub with a small volunteer drop in it.
I would encourage Derbyshire library users to make their feelings known to MPs, councillors and this letters’ page. If you value your libraries and librarians, try and encourage Derbyshire County Council to avoid the disastrous volunteer-led model which has seen library visits at affected Sheffield libraries drop by up to 75 per cent - 16 out of 28 libraries reduced to volunteer-run book drops which are not counted as part of the statutory library service, and the unnecessary loss of our much-loved librarians at Stannington and elsewhere. Thank you to the Bakewell librarians for the wonderful service, the remaining staff in Sheffield, and to the former librarians at Stannington Library in Sheffield.