Figures show thousands visit Kirklees libraries

Campaigner Eileen Newsome has called on Kirklees to keep Cleckheaton Library open.
Campaigner Eileen Newsome has called on Kirklees to keep Cleckheaton Library open.

Libraries across North Kirklees that are threatened with closure are among the busiest in the whole of Kirklees.

Batley, Birstall and Cleckheaton were the third, fourth and fifth busiest libraries in the district, Kirklees Council figures show.

Only Huddersfield and Dewsbury library had more visitors in the 2013/14 financial year, which are not at risk.

Last July Kirklees Council said it was considering a “nuclear option” to close all but two of its 26 permanent libraries in a bid to cut £2.8m out of the budget.

Coun Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleck) said the figures showed that Kirklees had to save the libraries in our district.

“We are the ones that must be saved,” she said. “If these are the figures then what is the council thinking of in trying to get rid of the service?”

There were nearly 165,000 visitors to Batley Library in 2013/14, while Birstall had 118,000 and Cleckheaton 115,000. But visits to all three were slightly down on the previous year.

Coun Pinnock also pointed out that Batley and Birstall’s figures were boosted by the fact that they also housed other facilities such as art galleries and council services, whereas Cleckheaton was purely a library.

“The Chestnut Centre in Deighton, for example, is really a community centre with a few books in another room,” Coun Pinnock added.

A petition to save Cleckheaton Library has reached nearly 4000 signatures. “People really do feel very strongly about this,” Coun Pinnock said. The Save Batley Library petition has more than 7,000 signatories.

Mirfield Library had 93,080 visitors in 2013/14, which was down from 97,936 the previous year. Dewsbury Library had 213,971 visitors, up by a few hundred visits from the year before.

The library at Ravensthorpe’s Greenwood Centre had 46,545 visitors, up from 45,194 in 2012/13. Heckmondwike Library had 49,612 visitors, up by a few hundred.

However, the Kirklees figures also show another side of the story – all libraries issued fewer books in 2013/14 than 2012/13, lending weight to the idea that fewer people use libraries to borrow books.

Kirklees Council David Sheard has urged people to come forward as volunteers to run their local libraries if it is decided the council will pull out of doing so.