In the 1930s, Sheffield’s libraries were being reformed and developed, and the numbers of borrowers and books issued were both rising. One strategy to promote the library service seems to have been to seek coverage in local newspapers. Here is an example of this – an odd little anecdote in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 28 December 1939. Odd because it seems incomplete without the name of the teacher or details of the books she wanted and why these were unobtainable locally (there were established library services in Manitoba at the time). Today, when the story might at most have merited a tweet, we would have had a photo and a quote from her, but no doubt transatlantic communications three months into the Second World War were restricted. At this remove, we will likely never know who she was or whether she ever returned to Sheffield. At all events, the fact of this slight story appearing in the paper suggests the good links between the library and local media.
“The Fifth Floor to Heaven”
City Library Praised
Sheffield has just had a remarkable tribute to the efficiency of its library service.
A Sheffield girl who is teaching in a small town in Manitoba, Canada, required books of reference for a lecture she was preparing.
Being unable to get the books in the district and not knowing of any place near at hand where she could get them, she wrote to the Sheffield City Librarian (Mr J P Lamb) asking him to send books and offered to pay postage both ways.
In her letter she described the Sheffield Library as “the fifth floor to heaven”.
As it is scarcely possible to send books from Sheffield to Canada in this way, Mr Lamb has referred the request to the Chief Librarian of Toronto, suggesting that some regional library organisation in Canada might be able to supply the demand.