Home » News » Bold new vision for the Central Library
Artist’s impression of the interior of the Central Library
Artist’s impression of the interior of the Central Library

Bold new vision for the Central Library

7 December 2017

Sheffield City Council is announcing a bold and unique vision for the Central Library service in the heart of the city centre.

Over the last twelve months our team have visited inspirational libraries across the country, assessed them with a critical eye and brought the best ideas back to Sheffield.

We have used these ideas to shape our vision. We have also taken on board the views of over 600 library users who attended our public meetings last year. We have responded to their feedback by committing to keep a library service in the heart of the city.

Books and the written word will be the focus of our new library, but it will also embrace new technology so everyone has the opportunity to learn and access knowledge. It will build on the proud history and legacy of the current Central Library, but it will be part of the digital age, helping to meet the needs of people in Sheffield now and in the future.

The model for the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library located at the Forum in Norwich is most closely aligned to the council’s aspirations for Sheffield. The Forum is home to several organisations and is a focus for a wide range of learning and cultural activities in the centre of the city. It houses learning organisations, a café and a restaurant, as well as the library.

We want our new Central Library to be a place for people to explore, learn, connect and create. It will be a space to share knowledge, inspire ideas, enrich the lives of local people, and create social spaces for everyone to come together in the heart of the City.

The council will now look at possible new locations and funding options for the central library. We are also working with Museums Sheffield to develop the vision for the Graves Gallery.

Kim Streets, Chief Executive of Museums Sheffield, said: “We’re delighted that the Graves Gallery will continue to play an important role in the city. We look forward to working with Sheffield City Council to explore the options for its future.”

Over the last year the Sichuan Guodong Group continued their work to assess the development opportunity of the current building. They have become aware of the significant financial issues of the building during the 12 months of exploratory work. They are aware of the challenges around the viability of creating a five star hotel and gallery.

Whilst they continue to consider that, the council continues to work with them to explore its plans for significant investment in the city including residential developments in line with our city-wide relationship with them.

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, said; “We want our Central Library to be the beating heart of the city centre. It will be our offer to everyone in the city to come and learn, explore, create and connect. We are ambitious with our vision that we want to share and develop with the people in Sheffield.

“We are excited about this next phase of developing library services in the city centre. We know how important that is to the city and everyone who lives and works here.

“The Surrey Street building is iconic in many ways and means a lot to people in Sheffield. While we recognise that there are some big challenges around accessibility and the cost of repairs, this is a building with lots of potential.

“Whilst we explore our options I will not lose focus on the determination to create a Central Library and Graves Art Gallery that are fit for the 21st century and meet the needs of everyone in Sheffield.”

Is the Sichuan Guodong Group still working with Sheffield?

Yes. The Sichuan Guodong Group have become aware of the significant financial issues of the Surrey Street building during their 12 months of exploratory work. They are aware of the challenges around the viability of creating a five star hotel and gallery.

The council continues to work with Sichuan Guodong Group to explore its plans for significant investment in the city including residential developments. Their interest in Sheffield was never exclusive to the Surrey Street building.

Will we be having a new Central Library building?

We are exploring all options to ensure that we have a library that meets the needs of people in Sheffield, so that a timely well-informed choice can be made.

Where will the new Central Library be?

It will be in the heart of the city centre.

When will the new library open?

The Central Library is open for business as usual. We don’t know when we will be opening a new library.
Will all existing library sections and services be kept?

We will consult with library users about the services that they would like to see provided in the Central Library.

How can I have my say on the Central Library vision?

We will be launching a consultation on our vision in 2018 and we want as many local people and library users to get involved as possible. In the meantime you can keep up to date with library news by subscribing to our news alerts service: www.sheffield.gov.uk/alerts

What will happen to the Library Theatre venue?

We have asked for expressions of interest to carry out a study, over three months, looking at how we find or create other theatre spaces in the city to fill the role currently played by the Library Theatre. At the same time, we want the study to tell us how we can meet other performance needs in the city. Groups who use the Library Theatre will be actively involved in this process.

What protection will there be for the Graves collection?

We are committed to the future of the Graves Collection and Gallery in that building and providing a fitting home for it in the city.

Will the building’s character and rich heritage be preserved?

The Surrey Street building is listed therefore whatever services are provided within it, the character will be retained.

Are jobs at risk?
There are no jobs at risk following the launch of the new library vision.