Friends group hopes Batley Library will be a community hub

Batley library. (D512C430)
Batley library. (D512C430)

We want Batley Library to be at the heart of the community, is the message from the library’s newly-formed support group.

The Friends of Batley Library met for the first time last week to discuss new ideas about the service.

Its chairman Simon Roadnight said the group did not aim to run the library but to “support the existing staff and the wonderful services they already provided”.

It also wants to bring fresh ideas to get more community activities operating from the building on Market Place.

Mr Roadnight said: “One of the main points I would like to emphasise time and again is that this is your library so please make the most of it.

“Libraries, just like many other services, have had to adapt over the years.

“We will all remember them as quiet places to go for a bit of peace whilst reading a book or newspaper.

“But today’s library offers so much more and even that must expand to serve the public demand.”

Several clubs are already based at the library, which also runs information and learning sessions and has books and computers for public use.

But the Friends committee discussed new ideas including forming a Batley Library walking group, running open mic nights for local poets, hosting reading competitions between schools and staging Christmas events for young children.

Members also suggested holding history events where people could discover what life was like in Batley during different periods, and staging debates and discussions around different topics.

Mr Roadnight said: “These are just some of the ideas being bandied about the moment but they can be enhanced further by people suggesting other ideas. What we want above all is more community involvement.”

Library manager Kathryn Parry and Kirklees area manager Alison Peaden welcomed the Friends’ help in managing the library and broadening its scope.

The Friends group was formed after the fate of library became uncertain, when Kirklees Council was hit with a cut to its libraries budget.

More than 10,000 people signed a petition to save the library. Historian Malcolm Haigh was among those leading the campaign. He transferred funds from the now defunct Batley Environment Forum to support the Friends’ group in safeguarding the library’s future.

Local artists David Martin also offered to donate proceeds of some of his prints into helping fund the Friends, whose members do not have to pay a sign-up fee.

The group’s second public meeting will be held in the library on Saturday, December 5 at 1pm.