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

It used to be a lot stricter. Even as staff when I started – you know your numbers on the back? I remember the manager would go round and measure that you'd got them the same with a thumb. And silence signs. You still get people coming in, young mums and that, and they say "keep quiet”. But it's fine, it's not like that now. Actually it's groups like this that make more noise than kids!…

The help these days is really on the computers. People have a certain expectation when they come in. We always say, “we might not know the answers but we know where to find them”. They go to the job centre and they say "go to your library, they'll show you" and we've got queues out the door, phone ringing, and we'll try and start somebody off but then they need so much more.

Name: Tracy (library worker)

Story shared in a conversation at a Library Stories reminiscence session at Crystal Peaks Library in April 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.