Joanne Harris opens new Hebden Bridge Library

Saturday, 21 March 2009

After the Morris dancers finished performing in the small outside area, the Mayor of Calderdale, Councillor Conrad Winterburn described Hebden Bridge as "Calderdale's own Latin Quarter" as he introduced Joanne Harris.

Joanne HarrisJoanne Harris made a good short speech with amusing anecdotes and without notes. "It's so good to see a Library opening and not shutting," she started off with. She stressed the importances of libraries. "We can judge any civilisation by its libraries," she continued.

She told of the Library at Barnsley where, when she was young, in order to take out a book you had to run the gauntlet of the librarian, Mrs Potter. Jekyll and Hyde was not permitted as it might give her nightmares. An attempt by the 15 year old Joanne to take out A Clockwork Orange was met with a definite "I don't think so". Her mother was similarly protective and worried that certain books might give Joanne "notions".

Before Joanne spoke, there were messages from the mayors of Hebden Bridge's two twin towns, St Pol and Warstein, both of whom said they were looking forward to visiting the library next time they were in Hebden Bridge. Some young Germans are currently visiting Hebden Bridge from Warstein and one of these read out her mayor's message.

Library staff explained that they consulted with the people of Hebden Bridge before going ahead with the changes. 85% indicated that they want the library to stay in the same building. Others wanted certain extra services which have now been provided.

There are computers, coffee facilities, arm chairs, a small meeting room, lift to the first floor, exhibition space, dvds and . . . a large number of books, including ones with large type and audio books.

The building has been transformed and is now a fantastic resource of which our town can feel very proud.

HB Library

Author Joanne Harris to open new Hebden Bridge Library

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Joanne HarrisHebden Bridge library will re-open to the public on Saturday, 14th March, with an array of new services and stock. Author Joanne Harris will officially open the extended library on Saturday, 21st March at 1.30pm with the Mayor of Calderdale, to an audience of invited guests from the community. Joanne Harris will talk about the importance of libraries and what they mean to her. She will be available afterwards to sign books

Joanne Harris was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels; The Evil Seed (1989), Sleep, Pale Sister (1993) and Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

Since then, she has written seven more novels; Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Coastliners, Holy Fools, Gentlemen and Players, and, most recently, The Lollipop Shoes and Runemarks, plus; Jigs & Reels, a collection of short stories and, with cookery writer Fran Warde, two cookbooks; The French Kitchen and The French Market. Her books are now published in over 40 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. In 2004, Joanne was one of the judges of the Whitbread prize (categories; first novel and overall winner); and in 2005 she was a judge of the Orange prize.

A range of events and author visits is planned to celebrate the opening week of the library, and more details are available online at - or pick up a leaflet from Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre or the Vale Centre. See Hebden Bridge Library launch events.

New features will include a colourful and cosy children's area and a separate teenage area with a comfy sofa, listening post and a 52-inch flat screen TV. There will be study areas, computer and internet access and an outdoor space for storytelling and performances.

The ground floor will house a coffee area with comfortable seating, toilets and baby changing, with a lift to the upper floor. The Customer First office will also be sited in the library, offering face-to-face advice and information about Council services.

Upstairs, exposed beams have created a light and airy atmosphere, with more computers, reading and study tables and comfortable seating, and a small exhibition space for local artists to display their work. The work has been carried out on sustainable principles, with measures including solar film on the windows, energy-efficient boilers and sustainable materials for fittings.

The usual wide range of services including faxing, foreign language books, language courses, large print books, newspapers, photocopying facilities and readers' groups will also be available.

Councillor Ian Cooper, community services portfolio holder, said:
"I am delighted to see Hebden Bridge library ready to open after an enormous amount of hard work on the project. The new and improved library will be a great boost for the town and offers the most up-to-date and modern facilities, while preserving the character of the original building.

The temporary library at the Vale Centre will close on March 7th and a mobile library will be stationed outside the Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre from Monday 9th to Friday 13th March, from 9.30am to 5pm (closes at 1pm Tuesday). Full library facilities are also available at Todmorden and Mytholmroyd. For more details and information, phone 01422 842151 or E-mail:


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