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

We run a book club through work. We’ve been doing it for four years now. People dip in and out of it, there are a few mainstays. It’s really useful, because at the library you can get 10 copies of whatever the book is, and you get them for six weeks. So we meet every other month, and we’ll take it in turns to choose the book – whoever chooses the book brings the nibbles. It’s a really good way of breaking the day up, more than anything.

It’s great because you’re reading a book that someone else has chosen, so 9 times out of 10 it’s something you’d probably never have read. One of the most popular ones was All Quiet on the Western Front. I’d done it at school but most of the others hadn’t read it at all, so it was quite interesting – some people were a bit “errrm?”, like it’s just some war book or whatever. But actually the person that was most like that was the one who liked it more than anyone else. Since so many of the books have been made into films as well, we’re talking about maybe doing a book club and turning it into a film club, staying late after, getting some popcorn in and watching the film (getting that from the library as well).

There’s no late fines on book group books. When I filled out the library consultation form, I said to one of the librarians they could definitely charge more money, like late fines or for whole DVD box sets. She said that they don’t want to put off people on low incomes from being able to access them. And I was like: “that’s why I love you guys so much, because you’re thinking of things like that!” But that’s also why they’re an easy option for when the money gets taken away. I would much rather pay late fines for books and pay more for DVDs if that means they can keep computer access free and stay open an hour later – and I think a lot of people would.

It’s not for book club, but I’m reading the Goldfinch at the moment – which was the first book I’ve bought in ages, because it’s massive and I needed to keep renewing it, but it was reserved by someone else at the library. I’ve not read anything like it. It’s so believable. I think one of the reasons I started to read it was because the library recommended it on their Twitter. They’re pretty good for that. And I like how you get one thing out and it always leads on to something else.

Name: Jill – HR Media
Library: Central

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.