Penistone Library

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Opening Times
Penistone Library is under the control of Barnsley Council and Cllr Jenny Platts, for BMBC 'Adults and Communities', has said that they will review the hours on an annual basis. Opening Times in April 2014:

Sunday Closed
Monday 9 am 6 pm
Tuesday 9 am 5 pm
Wednesday 9 am Noon
Thursday 9 am 7 pm
Friday 9 am 5 pm
Saturday 9.30 am 12.30 pm

The original 'Carnegie Free Library'
The original library and town hall 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 Carnegie Free Library was in the top half of the Town Hall buildings on Shrewsbury Road. Along with a new Town Hall and a new 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, a new purpose-built Library was put up next door to St Andrew's church and officially opened in March 1966 by Cllr S Palmer of the West Riding County Council (WRCC). 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 Library on Shrewsbury Road was taken over for council purposes. For some years after the move, a small 'Reading Room' for daily newspapers remained in a musty room in the Town Hall building. It had wooden reading stands which retained the newspapers in place. They were all broadsheets in those days. For a time the Reading Room continued in 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.

A major refurbishment of the library started towards the back end of 2006 and it re-opened in February 2007. Jill Craven kindly gave me the grand tour, as everything had been changed around. The reception desk had moved from near the main entrance to the far end. In its old location, the desk was too close to the outside door. Every time the automatic door opened, a gust of wind would scatter papers and distress the librarians. That was a very sensible change.

The newly improved library lends DVDs and CDs and has expanded its computer facilities to provide internet access and word processing. It also has public information leaflets, bus timetables, details of local clubs and societies and a folder with 'What's On' details. With the demise of the upper office on Shrewsbury Road (the old Carnegie Library location) in recent times, the Library is now required to provide information and web access for job-seekers. As always, it is the natural place to find local information of almost every sort.

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

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'. Through a far door, there is a corridor leading to a large computer room for tutorial work and seminars. It has a data projector and a suite of modern computers. Next is a meeting room with its 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'.

Official Information
An important role of any library is as the obvious source of official information. For many decades Council Minutes, Council Agendas, Planning Agendas, Planning Minutes and Sub-Committee minutes were available in both the old Library and the 'new' Penistone Library on High Street. However, in recent times, only council Agendas have being issued to Penistone Library by the local council. Both the PTC website and the council's own Publication Scheme assert that Council Minutes are also available in the Library but, except for perhaps two occasions in several years, this has not been the case. The more important documents from Barnsley Council (BMBC) are usually available in the Library but not all of Highways Orders, even when they are marked as such.

Penistone Book Club
The library is also home to literate people, along with the nuisance 'sound effects' experts. Penistone Library book club has featured on a BBC4 tv programme. The context was an informal literate panel game with a section where panelists guessed which book the club was analysing. Being a largely humorous programme, I expected jokes about our town's name or northern accents but everyone behaved themselves. Jill and Co. did a good job.

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