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

The first library I went to was Park Library. Then we moved to Woodhouse, and that was the one I really started going to. It was very strict then. You know, you couldn't go in unless your hands were clean. The librarian had been known to clip 'em about the heads if they were really black. She sent no end back because of their hands. At that time you couldn't take as many books as they can take out now, and they was all checked when they came back and if they were dirty you were banned for so long. But it was really good. All the kids wanted to go to the library then, because they hadn't got a lot of things, televisions weren't in every household. That was in the early '60s, that was when I started.

There used to be film shows at the library for the children and they were great. It was a monthly event and the kids would be queuing up from after school, waiting to go in at night to watch these film shows. That was a good event. Then again, librarian had got the upper hand because if you didn't behave and didn't stand still – she knew everything! But you know, there were lots of kids. I don't think there was anybody I knew who didn't go to library. And if you went and got to do a job for them you got a badge that said "library help" and everybody was so proud of that. And then my mum and dad used to go to their listening group, that was an evening monthly one that they used to do, and they used to like that. That went on for a long time – in a way now I think it's just been restarted. Woodhouse at that time wasn't as big as it is now, it was more of a village type, and at Christmas and that they used to put on shows in the library. It was really nice, it was a fun place to be – if you were clean, and you weren't dirty! If you were allowed in!

Name: Dot (library worker)
Library: Crystal Peaks

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.