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To: Councillor Cathy Scott and Kirklees Council

Keep Batley Library in its much-loved Carnegie building

Batley Carnegie Library has been at the heart of Batley for over a century. With the withdrawal of so many services from Batley, it has become the town's hub.
As well as providing all the usual lending and reference functions the library is home to a great many activities, and provides help, comfort and advice when needed.

This is all possible thanks to the unique design and layout of the building.

The proposal to move to a "modern library" in the Town Hall would make it impossible to fulfil all these functions.

Why is this important?

Kirklees Council is planning to dispose of many assets to help overcome its £47 million black hole. Part of this plan would involve closing the Grade II listed Batley Carnegie Library, and operating a “modern library” service from the Town Hall. This would enable the council to sell the original library building.

The money to build Batley Library was donated to the people of Batley by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, and the plot of land for the library was donated by the William Akroyd Foundation, also to the people of Batley. This enabled the building of the iconic library which opened in 1907 and which still dominates the Market Place today, an area which is widely acknowledged as a gem of late Victorian/early Edwardian architecture and a superb legacy for future generations. With its towering illuminated clockfaces, the Batley Carnegie Library building acts as a beacon of inspiration, comfort and familiarity to the residents of Batley, and as a proud reminder of their heritage and hope for the future.

Batley Library’s inviting atmosphere has established a place where people have created memories, nurtured long-lasting friendships, and helped build Batley’s strong community spirit. Moving the library, even for such a short distance, would damage this precious legacy.

Thanks to the building’s superb design, it is still fit for purpose and perfectly suited to the twenty-first century, accommodating the traditional lending and reference library services and a great deal more besides. The modern library is so much more than a book depository, it now hosts many activities, local groups, performances, displays, and community services, both regular and ad-hoc, for adults and for children. Many of these activities can take place simultaneously.

It is a Library of Sanctuary, a Safe Place, and a Warm Space, where anybody can find safety, comfort, and reassurance (and a cup of soup or a hot drink and a snack) whatever their circumstances, and it holds a special place in the hearts of the community. The layout of the building provides the ideal location for all these facilities, providing social space as well as quiet areas of privacy. The Town Hall is not a huge building, and this new proposal could result in a reduction in the number and quality of services provided. Years ago, when the library was refurbished, the service – which had far fewer activities than nowadays – was temporarily relocated to the Town Hall annexe, and it was agreed by users and staff that it was not possible to carry out all the normal functions anywhere other than in the original building.

Due to its location, if the building were to be left empty for any length of time it would suffer undetected vandalism from the rear of the building, and would eventually become derelict through lack of maintenance. This would be a tragic loss to the heritage of Kirklees as a whole.

Therefore we strongly urge the Council to reconsider this proposal, which would have a severe impact on the quality of life and the wellbeing of local residents.
Batley, UK

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2024-02-09 15:57:54 +0000

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