Following extensive consultation with library staff and users, recommendations are being put forward to councillors to approve a temporary move of Barnsley’s central library.
The proposal involves central library being moved to a temporary location on Wellington Street, with a view to developing a new, purpose built library as part of a £57 million town centre investment scheme.
The temporary move to Wellington Street, if approved, will make way for a new state of the art sixth form college. This is in line with the borough’s aspirations to help young adults achieve their potential and grow the economy by developing a skilled workforce and helping younger people into employment . The move will also allow the regeneration of Shambles Street, a major gateway to the town centre.
The proposal is that the current central library on Shambles Street would close on 21 March, and reopen at Wellington House on 15 May. All library services will transfer, and care will be taken to ensure that the needs of all library users are met.
Views for and against this move have been received by a total of 268 people as part of the consultation. This number of responses represents approximately 3% of central library’s 7,400 active users.
All information provided has been carefully considered by officers and it is recognised that a range of views has been presented, which councillors will now need to consider. It has been acknowledged that there is a group of residents with strong opposition to the temporary move, who would prefer that the library remains in its existing location. Their views will be examined by councillors in full before a decision is made.
Three petitions have also been received in the consultation period. One of these asked the council not to close any libraries, not to reduce opening hours, and to maintain the current central library location. The council’s response to this petition is to keep all libraries across the borough open, and to maintain 96% of opening hours.
Letters of support for the temporary move, and the longer term vision of a new sixth form college, have been received from a number of groups, including Barnsley Economic Partnership, four MPs, the Civic Trust, town centre businesses, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce. Shambles Street businesses are in full support of the regeneration of this area of the town centre.
The final decision will be made by full council on Thursday 6 February.
***This BMBC press released was published here word for word, in full and with no additions; issued yesterday and embargoed until today.
In the last few month, the announced closure, demolition and proposed temporary move of the library has divided many opinions, despite the fact that the Shambles Street site will make way for a new Sixth Form College. While it is reported that the petition against the closure of the library was signed by over 10,000 people, it is understood that the central library actually only has an active 7,400 users.
It is currently planned that about 40 members of the Hands Off Our Library campaign are to surround Barnsley Town Hall when councillors meet to consider the results of a consultation on relocating the library on February 5th.