A University of Sheffield lecturer and the publishers of a Sheffield guide have collected stories and memories for a brilliant new website that celebrates the city’s public libraries, past and present. Dr. Anna Barton and Dr. Briony Birdi initiated the project, called Library Stories, as part of their wider research that compares the city’s public library services at their outset in the 19th century with services today, when funding cuts threaten their existence. The project is supported by the University’s Arts Enterprise scheme, which funds collaborations between academics and local organisations. Drs. Barton and Birdi collaborated on the project with Our Favourite Places, publishers of an independent Sheffield guidebook and website, who assisted with research and whose founders, Eleven Design, created the resulting website and booklet.
In May, the team distributed postcards at the city’s libraries asking users one simple question: ‘What does your library mean to you?’
They also met with book and social groups, interviewed former and current members of staff, and held public reminiscence events. Over 200 library users shared their memories and stories of the city’s libraries. A selection of them can now be seen on the Library Stories website, which acts as a striking record of love, appreciation and support for Sheffield’s public libraries. Alongside these ‘present’ stories, the website also presents findings and photos from the city’s library ‘past’, dug out from Sheffield Archives by MA student Nadia Jamaludin. It’s hoped the site will grow in time, as it invites users to share their thoughts on the ‘future’ of libraries.
Find them on Twitter at @Library_Stories