Honley Library is about so much more than books – and volunteers are now embarking on a mighty fundraising drive to raise £300,000 for an extension.

The library, run by the Friends of Honley Library, is already a community hub but it has the potential to do much more.

From a Knit and Natter group to Babies into Books, a digital cafe to jigsaws, Honley Library is a meeting place for young and old alike.

And now the Friends group wants to expand the facilities so that it can be more inclusive and bring more people through the doors.

Trustee Jenny Lockwood said: “Honley Library is a vibrant community space and the Friends group are enthusiastic and determined that the library will continue to be a focal point and hub for the village.

“In 2023 we welcomed over 16,000 visitors and held more than 230 events but to continue our work we urgently need more space.”

To that end, the Friends of Honley Library have now drawn up plans for a £300,000 extension which will improve the community area, create more desk and workspaces, provide a new kitchen and storage space and, mostly importantly, provide new accessible toilets and baby-changing facilities.


Honley Library. Image by: Sean Doyle

Plans have been drawn up at no cost by Huddersfield architects AHR and the planning process has been paid for with a £9,000 grant from the Government’s Community Ownership Fund.

It is hoped an application to the Community Ownership Fund for the maximum £250,000 will be successful but as part of the award the Friends must find 20% themselves.

The Friends have launched a JustGiving page with a £100,000 target and already just short of £40,000 has been raised.

Jenny said: “The local support we have had has been amazing and we can’t thank people enough.”

A video on the work of the library has been provided free of charge and 4,000 leaflets – also produced at no cost – have been distributed to the local community.

Various fundraising initiatives are planned, notably an afternoon with Almondbury-based best-selling author Joanne Harris on August 1, an event that sold out almost immediately.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who lives in Honley, has donated two special bottles of Poet Laureate Sherry which will be raffled at various events.

“If this building is to survive we need this extension,” said Jenny. “We only have one tiny toilet that’s just off the kitchen area and it’s not fully accessible.

“We have a Babies into Books group with 20 mums and babies but nowhere for them to change nappies!”


Images: AHR


The Friends of Honley Library and Holme Valley Parish Council saved the library in 2015. An asset transfer was eventually completed in 2021 and the building is now owned by the parish council and leased by the Friends who pay all the running costs.

The library opens on Tuesdays (1pm-6pm); Wednesdays 10am-1pm; Fridays 1pm-5pm; and Saturdays 10am-1pm.

It has one 15-hours-a-week Kirklees Council library assistant and a team of 30 dedicated volunteers.

In February this year, Kirklees Council announced a major shake-up of its libraries in a bid to save money.

The council said it intended to hand over the management of eight smaller libraries, including Honley, to the local community.

These would become “community-managed libraries” and would no longer have council staff. The other libraries earmarked were Meltham, Kirkheaton, Marsden, Skelmanthorpe, Denby Dale, Shepley and Mirfield.

That proved a shock to the Friends group which felt putting all the responsibility onto the shoulders of volunteers could stretch the goodwill of volunteers too far.

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Two consultation meetings with the council have taken place and Jenny feels the council intends to press ahead.

“The council feels we are so successful that we can run the library with volunteers but there is a problem with that,” said Jenny. “We have a brilliant relationship with the library staff and we have always had tremendous support from them.

“Having 15 hours of support from a library assistant means we always have a responsible person present and we have a monthly rota where volunteers fill in where and when they are available, and that is very successful.

“Not having one core person means we would have to find a volunteer or volunteers to give up their time on that regular basis, which could prove more difficult.

“We already have a lead volunteer on a Wednesday but we would have to extend that to the other three days.

“My gut feeling is that Kirklees have already made the decision because they have to make savings.”


Jenny said they don’t expect to hear more about the council’s plans until October but said it would mean more volunteers would have to be trained.

She was also concerned about the council’s computer system for accessing library records, ordering books and the like, which she described as “very complicated” to operate.

“Our fear is that if this is the first step, what comes next? Will we still get access to new books?”

The Friends’ organisation, resilience and determination means they will overcome any obstacle Kirklees might throw in their way so the focus for now is the extension fundraising.

The planning application is in and funding applications are being made to various bodies. There’s two teams on the Extension Working Group, who Jenny described as a “marvellous set of people.”

To watch the video which shows why the library is so important click HERE or go to the Friends of Honley Library website HERE or search Friends of Honley Library on Facebook.

To donate to the extension fund go to the JustGiving page HERE.


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