I was born in Batley in 1948 and many of my fondest childhood memories are of the walks from Dark Lane, past Fox’s Biscuits to the grand old Carnegie Library.
It was a grand old building even then. Sometimes I would be with my parents Mary and Thomas Connor, sometimes, if I was lucky with either of my big brothers - Peter and John. I liked that best. We would climb the stone stairs and head to our favourite spots. Children’s area for me, then non-fiction, animals and dog books were always on my list.
As I grew older, magazines and newspapers, on those wooden spindles, told of adventures in faraway places. After college, I came back to Batley and taught at my old school, St Mary’s, for a year. I loved to walk my class to the library. Many were children of poverty and did not have access to reading materials at home.
In 1971, I left England to teach in Kenya, then America. I carried with me a love of reading fostered in that beautiful building on the market place. Perhaps this was where my first dream to become a children’s librarian was born?
After 20 years teaching, I became a children’s librarian and for the last 23 years this has been a passion. I have mostly worked with children of poverty who not only need access to printed matter but also technology they may not be able to afford at home. I believe that access should be in a beautiful environment. Exposure to art, architecture. What better gifts can we give our children?
I visit Batley to see family and friends every couple of years. One summer about 25 years ago, I took my own daughter to see the Carnegie Library I treasure in my memories. Just last year, I stood in the market place with my brother Peter, remarking on how well everything looked.
I understand the need for cutting spending. Believe me, my library budget has been shrinking for five years. However, there must be a way to save the library. Please think long and hard before you sell this wonderful treasure house.