Friends of Zest make case against library closure

As library with longest opening hours in the city is set to close, the Friends of Zest group are holding an open meeting this Saturday, 7 December

Upperthorpe Library by Philippa Willitts, used under Creative Commons License

Upperthorpe Library by Philippa Willitts, used under Creative Commons License

The Friends of Zest Group is holding a public meeting with Cllr Mazher Iqbal on Saturday 7th December at 11am in Upperthorpe Library to make the case for keeping it open.

The Group is campaigning to keep Upperthorpe Library open and for it to be retained as a fully funded Council library.

The library’s weekly opening hours of 86.5 over 7 days of the week are the longest in the city.

Upperthorpe Library is based in the Zest Centre, a community facility which houses a range of health and wellbeing services under one roof.  This co-location makes it very cheap for the City Council to run, according to the Friends of Zest Group, who told Sheffield Live that:

  • The Zest Centre has excellent disabled access making Upperthorpe Library one of the most accessible libraries for people with disabilities in the city.
  • The library’s IT suite has the fifth highest usage of all libraries in the city, because Zest staff keep the IT suite open when library staff are not on site.
  • The Zest Centre and the library is used not only by local residents from the surrounding deprived neighbourhoods, but also by people from across the city.

These factors have not been taken into consideration in the Council’s Library Review, according to members of the Friends of Zest Group, who believe that Upperthorpe Library with its co-location in the Zest Centre should be held up by the Council as a model for other community libraries rather than be closed.

Local parent David Smith told Sheffield Live “I bring my children down to swimming lessons every week – whilst one swims, the other sits and reads with me in the library. Having such a well-integrated facility makes it possible to have this great one-to-one time together, rather than sitting around the side of the pool.”

What next?

  • The public meeting takes place on Saturday, 11am, at Upperthorpe Library and all are welcome.
  • Friends of Zest is a group of local residents and users of the Zest Centre in Upperthorpe. Their main focus at the moment is protecting Upperthorpe Library within the Zest Centre against proposed closure in April 2014.
  • Sheffield Live interviewed Councillor Mazher Iqbal in October. Details and link to podcast
  • The chief executive of Zest was interviewed on last week’s Business Live programme. Details and link to podcast