Penistone Library

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Penistone Library
This page describes the library in normal, non-pandemic times. The current facilities are much restricted in 2020 -2021 until the pandemic eases and government guidance allows for normal service. .

Penistone Library is administered by Barnsley Council. I supports Jobsearch and other support for job-seekers and has free and paid-for activities on a variety of subjects such as: children's stories, computer tutorials, philosophy discussions, digital photography courses, pet safety sessions, an occasional historic film show (such as one by Dave Cherry) and guidance sessions by the 'Digital Champions' for residents to safely access the Internet, email and BMBC services.

Its facilities and services include:

For enquiries and renewals, please call 76 2313. Please visit the BMBC Penistone Library site for pandemic opening times. It also lists the permitted activities during the pandemic.
The normal (non-pandemic) Opening Times are subject to change:

Sunday Closed
Monday 9 am 6 pm Library
Tuesday 9 am 5 pm
Wednesday 9 am Noon
Thursday 9 am 7 pm
Friday 9 am 5 pm
Saturday 9.30 am Noon

Local Interest Books can be found in these locations:
The Yorkshire Shop in Denby Dale; Cawthorne Garden Centre (opposite Cannon Hall car park); Shelley Garden Centre (with a spacious car park).


The old 'Carnegie Free Library'
The original library was purchased in 1913 by the people of Penistone, through public subscription and with the help of the Scottish/American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, 1966 Plaquewho matched the funding with his own. Andrew Carnegie can be credited with raising literacy levels throughout the UK and the USA, with the consequent advantages to the prosperity of our countries. The Town Hall (now called the Paramount) and 'Council Rooms' were added on to the Library in 2014.

The Carnegie Free Library was in the top half of the Town Hall buildings on Shrewsbury Road. The new Library was a milestone event in the history of our town. The lintel above the door is inscribed 'Carnegie Free Library' and stained glass inserts in the door are still marked with Andrew Carnegie's monogram.

After many decades of serving the reading needs of the public, the library needed to move and expand. A new purpose-built Library was built next door to St Paul's chapel (now St Andrew's church). It was officially opened in March 1966 by Cllr S Palmer of the West Riding County Council (WRCC), as in the plaque above.

In those days, Penistone came under the Wakefield-based WRCC and people over a certain age will be familiar with those initials on a wide range of objects, including school pencils and notebooks. 1966 was the year when we famously won the football World Cup against Germany.

The vacated Carnegie Library was then to be used by Penistone Town Council. After Local Government Re-organisation 1974, the old Library fell under the control of Barnsley Council and became the local office for Berneslai Homes (social housing). It is now occupied by BMBC employees who support the local Ward Alliance but erroneously call their part of the building 'the Town Hall' and advertise it as such. The actual Town Hall (Paramount) did not exist when the Carnegie Library was built.

For some years after the move, a small and musty 'Reading Room' for daily newspapers remained in the building. It had large wooden reading stands which retained the newspapers in place. They were all broadsheets in those days. For a time the Reading Room continued when it moved into a shed around the back, possibly for legal reasons as a vestige of the Library. Eventually that disappeared and newspapers became available in the current library on High Street. See the History Page for more details.

2006-2007 Refurbishment
There have been other refurbishments since then but the general appearance of Penistone Library is still very much as in these pictures. A major refurbishment started towards the back end of 2006 and it re-opened in February 2007 and Jill Craven kindly gave me the grand tour; as everything had been changed around.

The reception desk moved from near the main entrance to the far end. In its old location, the desk had been far too near to the outside door and every time the automatic door opened, a gust of wind would scatter papers from the desk and distress the librarians. That was a very sensible improvement. The old, austere tables were replaced by small round ones, giving a more relaxed 'café' feel. The new seating was also much more comfortable. In addition to modern fittings, computers and a spacious feel, the children's area was expanded. Perhaps the cuddly toys might be seen as a kind of 'germ exchange'.

Children's areaPCs and the deskMain part
Library help desk
Tutorial roomMeeting room

The library also moved into the 21st century. It expanded its computer facilities to provide internet access and word processing. As always, it provided public information leaflets, bus timetables, details of local clubs and societies and a 'What's On' folder. With the demise of the the former Carnegie Library on Shrewsbury Road as an outpost of Barnsley Council (Berneslai Homes), the Library was now required to provide information and web access for job-seekers.

Through a far door, a corridor leads into a large computer room for tutorial work and seminars. This IT Room has a data projector and a suite of modern computers. Next to it is a meeting room with a large table. A busy programme of events makes good use of the facilities.

The Dransfield Cabinet
The preservation of local historical publications is an important role for a library, as (after Google) it is the first place you might look for it. But Local History is often preserved in untidy, tatty, stained, dog-eared, musty and unattractive books, hand-written notes and old leaflets that might not fit well in a modern library. Even so, Penistone Library still has a collection of old books, pamphlets, Penistone Almanacs and more in the 'Dransfield Cabinet'.

The 'cabinet' is actually a walk-in cupboard near to the children's section; presumably given its name from an actual cabinet in the old library. In particular, there are books by the local historian John Ness Dransfield, who made a major contribution to our local history. His great work was 'A History of the Parish of Penistone', which contains a wealth of historic detail, along with a big section on the local hunt. There is more than one copy but they are not in good condition and one of them is falling apart. There are also some good local history books in the bookcase nearest to the counter. I can also recommend books written by Chris Heath about Denby.

A Sound Place to Study
The library is a good escape for a change of scenery and routine but it is not always easy to concentrate. I would welcome some 'Quiet Please' notices on the wall as it can be downright rowdy at times. On one occasion, a fellow appeared to be having a private paper-tearing competition, followed by rhythmically ripping sellotape from a reel, as I was trying to concentrate on something. I thought of Wilson, Kepple and Betty doing a sand dance. Another time, a fellow read an entire newspaper while very loudly drumming his fingers to an imaginary tune. Good old 'Care in the Community'.


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