In 2015 Library Stories started a citywide conversation, to discover how libraries are used and valued in Sheffield today

A brief history of Sheffield Libraries

Clean hands for the library

Is this the year 1904?

Saturday morning down the Central Library

Bustle and noise, 1900

Choosing what to read next, at Park Junior Library

Air raid training on the roof, 1940

The Slippers of Cinderella

Billboards for beer and soap at the old library

"The mainstay of quiet domestic enjoyment", 1902

The case of the stolen library books, 1967

Quiet concentration in the reading room, 1894

A college class in the Commercial Library, 1938

Eager young readers in the garden at Hillsborough

Old, time-stained volumes, 1901

Gathering round the wireless, 1929

Preparing to feed blitz survivors, 1940

A week with a book isn't long enough, 1902

Story Hour at Woodhouse Library, 1948

Highfield Library becomes a farmyard, 1983

Queuing for a matinee at the Library Theatre, 1950

"Only room for twelve readers", 1904

Library staff photo, 1972

Free library wanted, 1901

Video lands at the library, 1983

A modernist library for Greenhill, 1963

Sheffield's first mobile library, 1962

"More like a cattle pen", 1904

Celebrating Windrush with Benjamin Zephaniah, 1998

"Hands off our library", 1995

Visitors a law unto themselves, 1900

"Yours truly, a disappointed one", 1904

Introducing Miss Book World 1970

A vandalised Parson Cross Library, 1989

"Much more than books" at Hackenthorpe, 1985

Celebrating Chinese New Year, 1984

The Sheffield library strike, 1995

"Objectionable men", 1902

Seeking employment, 1900

Enid Hattersley, 1980

Not enough room for all the books, 1902

A disgusted musician, 1901

Library Stories

What’s your library story? Perhaps the library's where you discovered your favourite book, made new friends at a club, or sent your first email.

In 2015, Library Stories started a citywide conversation, to discover how public libraries are used and valued in Sheffield today.

Over 200 library users got involved, sharing memories, illustrations and photos. Together, they create a striking record of love, appreciation and support for Sheffield’s public libraries. This website is just a sample of those stories.

This website is a celebration of our city’s libraries, past and present, and an invitation for you to share your library story.

Working with Sheffield Archives, Library Stories delved into the history of the public library system in Sheffield. It traced the decisions involved in setting up the libraries, and gained a sense of what it was like to use the libraries at the turn of the 20th century. Here, you’ll find a selection of these discoveries, alongside photos of library life over the decades.

Libraries haven’t had it easy in recent years and, over the course of this project, many were in varying states of adjustment to community, associate and co-delivered services. Whatever form they take it’s clear that, to many, local libraries are a lifeline, an invaluable free resource, a source of joy. Read a selection of thoughts on and memories of the city’s libraries, shared with Library Stories on comment cards, at book clubs and reminiscence events, and in one-on-one interviews.

Leave a comment, sharing your thoughts on Sheffield’s libraries.

Library Stories is a joint project by the University of Sheffield and Our Favourite Places, funded by Arts Enterprise.

Thanks to all staff at Sheffield Libraries and Archives for their support with Library Stories, especially Dan Marshall and Dot Morritt for helping spread the word about the project and host interviews. Archival photos courtesy of Picture Sheffield. 'Present' photos by Gemma Thorpe, from a Library Stories reminiscence event at Multi-Story Festival in May 2015.


For further information about the project, contact us.