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

I just left after 31 years. I started in August 1983 and I left on the last day of July 2014. I was born in Firth Park and I got a job in Firth Park, and apart from 6 months when I was sent to another library which was just up the road, I was there the whole time. I job-shared at Firth Park and I did do part time at Limpsfield as well. Cut me in two and I've got Firth Park in the middle of me. I don't know how I managed to get such a local library job! My sister worked in libraries and my best friend did. They left in September. They'd been there 36 years and I'd been there 31. They got rid of 1000 years experience on one day – somebody took the time to add up...

I'd trot up the road onto the safe houses up on the top of Windmill Lane with a bag of books for a couple of hours on an afternoon, to sit beyond bars reading stories to families that couldn't come down to the library very easily, because they couldn't give details of where they lived. It was just something local that I did. Talking to kids that used to come in but not take books out, I realised what the problem was with them joining. There was enough staff to do those kind of things. The kids would all come, it was quite nice in summer sitting outside.

I never thought I'd leave. I will always miss the colleagues, always miss the borrowers as we called them, always miss the job. But I suddenly realised that the job wasn't there. So it was quite a leap of faith. And it's quite different now, I'm doing care work four nights a week.

It was nice to have the option of moving if you want, but I felt a lot of my job was the connection I made over the years. Not only had they seen me grow up, but I saw them as babies, then bringing in their babies. I still go in and know the people there, and they'll put the kettle on. But I'll always miss it... 30 years ago it was different, we had big belly laughs. I think people will remember a lot of laughing, a lot of events.

Name: Sandra (former library worker)
Library: Firth Park

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.