Green Party councillors are calling on the Labour administration to completely rethink its proposals for the library service. They are proposing a motion to this effect at the Full Council meeting on 5th February.
Over 30,000 people have now signed a petition in favour of saving local libraries. Sheffield Green Party has consistently argued that libraries bring huge benefits to communities and that they should be protected as a network.
Green Party Councillor Jillian Creasy said,
“The January Full Council meeting received 12 large petitions against the library closures. People wanted to save their own library, but were also passionate about keeping a city-wide network.”
“It’s not realistic for volunteers to manage and finance libraries on their own. We think a better model than withdrawing council support from all but a few “hub” libraries would be to keep all libraries open with professional staff spread between them. The enormous amount of work done by local groups in a very short period of time shows there is plenty of scope for the council to develop roles for volunteers within the existing service.”
“This isn’t just about the scale of the cuts, it’s about how the council works with local people. The response to the libraries consultation has sent a strong message to the administration which they should work with in a positive way.”
Motion to Council on 5th February 2014
Proposed by Cllr Jillian Creasy, seconded by Cllr Rob Murphy, That this Council:
a) notes the unprecedented number of petitions and signatures in support of branch libraries, and the expressions of commitment, passion and willingness from the people of Sheffield;
b) recognises the enormous value of the network of libraries in the community, especially on the educational attainment levels of children in less affluent areas;
c) recognises the increasing need for free public internet access by people looking for work and claiming benefits, as well as the impact of libraries on nearby shops and business.
d) notes the serious pressure on the Council from central Government cuts but also recognises the range of choices still available in Sheffield, at whatever level of financial commitment;
e) believes the proposed model for community and independent libraries – which requires volunteers to both manage and finance a library service – is too rigid to be workable;
f) believes a better approach would allow for volunteers to take part in an integrated, city-wide and established network of library services and in all libraries, not just a few, and therefore;
g) urges the Cabinet Member to bring forward different proposals from those consulted on, that actively take account of Sheffield residents’ willingness to participate in a genuine community-based city-wide library service, and recognise the need for co-ordination and other input by librarians and other paid staff.