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

I grew up with Sheffield City Libraries. I lived at Millhouses and we went up to Ecclesall Library; I spent most of my Saturdays in Ecclesall Library. Because I'd grown up in a house full of books I just devoured them all through childhood... I became a librarian, so I worked for Sheffield City Libraries through the 70s, starting off at Totley branch. Then I was in the school library, in the basement of the Central building, then I was in the mobile – which was how I got to know this area, going on the service round the farms. That was interesting in the snow, we'd always have to have a shovel. People got a very personal service, because they'd let us know what sort of books they wanted and we chose them, did them a parcel of books to last them a month. Gradually it was found that service couldn't carry on. But while I was with the mobile, they started the house bound service. Both my mum and dad and my mother-in-law used that, so they were very grateful... Then I was a Central children's librarian until about 1980 – that was good fun... I went through a period of not really using the library much, until my girls were old enough – so it was mainly for them, until I got time to come back. Now I come mainly to borrow audiobooks... I came to reading group about 10 years ago, mainly because I wanted to do something just for me. I was busy, I was a carer and I was working as well, doing voluntary work and training. I felt I needed to start doing things that were just for my benefit, for me to enjoy. So I came to the group – partly the love of reading and partly the social aspect.

Name: Penny (former library worker)
Library: Stannington

Story shared in conversation with Stannington Library's reading group, May 2015.

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.