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

I was a children's librarian in 1956, so that's going back a bit. I did my initial training at Walkley and then we got our own children's library, and my first was Tinsley. In a way it was like being a social worker because the children in that area were quite poor and a lot were what they called latchkey children in those days, and when they finished school they all trooped into the library because they were waiting for the parents to come home. Then I was moved to Highfield Library; I wasn't there very long because they started to build a brand new state-of-the-art library at Greenhill, and I was offered to be children's librarian there... We were all appointed a few months before the library opened, and we all chose our own books. It was a really cold winter and we were in the stack at Greenhill preparing all these books with our woolly hats on, so we got to know each other really well. After that I moved to West Riding libraries and came back and worked in school libraries, but the staff from Greenhill, we still meet and get together. Unfortunately one of our friends had cancer and a couple of years ago she died, and she was the one who kept us together, she used to write long letters to us all at Christmas. They revamped Greenhill and one day when we went together we more or less bought all the old furniture.

Name: Beryl (former 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.