A New Lease of Life for Walkley Library: update, 19th October 2018

Walkley Carnegie Library (WCL) has been progressing towards the second stage bid for the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Enterprise grant with its new project team in place. The project coordinator, Anita Hollinshead, has been joined by the heritage and learning consultant, Pete Brown, who is preparing the activity plan, and the newly appointed design team led by Carl Andrews of Soul Architects. WCL is very pleased to have such experienced professionals on board for this project.

However, it was with regret that we announced at our annual general meeting the withdrawal from the project of True North Brew Company (TNBC). This plan has been under discussion for nearly four years and led to the successful bid for the initial development grant, and it is disappointing that this route cannot now be continued. This means that the original café/pub restaurant will no longer feature as part of the new library plans.

We have continued to talk with the HLF and Sheffield City Council (SCC) on ways that we can proceed with the next stage of the bid by returning to our initial business plan, and taking into consideration the way that we have steadily evolved and expanded our services and activities. A new plan will involve fewer major alterations and will mean that we will retain more library and activity space, whilst allowing opportunities for closer links with the local and business community.

Any partnership faces difficulties when bound by the strict criteria of grant funding and therefore the process can take longer than may be expected by commercial operators. Both partners in this case worked closely together and with SCC to create a new model for the library and we were all pleased to have received an HLF Enterprise grant to develop the ideas. However, building on the successful running of the library for nearly four years, WCL will continue with the bid, incorporating an exciting activity plan which will be based round the conservation of the building to create opportunities for more community engagement.

Over the last couple of years Walkley Carnegie Library’s footfall, loans and book stock have been consistently increasing, whilst we have been introducing new activities and events, not only in the library but also at other local venues and in association with a number of community organisations. We will continue to operate as one of the associate libraries linked to SCC and still work closely with these other libraries by sharing skills, experiences, information and sometimes resources. Our own Blue Sticker book collection continues to be extremely popular and we will be transferring it onto a new library management system in the new year in line with a number of the other associate libraries.

We have been revisiting our original business plan and are looking at the most appropriate ways of retaining our services and space, whilst also looking to create a vibrant community hub which will bring new business opportunities to South Road. We are therefore pressing forward towards our bid submission in March building on our strengths, and through our HLF project team carrying out extensive local consultation in order to present the strongest possible case to the HLF.

The Arts Council England supported project “Seeing Beauty, Inspiring Minds” was launched on October 6th at Walkley library in association with Ruskin in Sheffield and the Guild of St George. This project will consist of a number of workshops for teenagers in creating a comic book, a sculpture and a street mural. At this exciting time, we would be interested in talking to businesses and organisations that might wish to consider being involved in our future plans. We can be contacted at newlease@walkleylibrary.org.uk