Battle Library Community Hub Opens!

Battle Library
New glass doors in Battle Library

BATTLE LIBRARY will reopen to the public as a multi-use community hub for west Reading on Tuesday 17th September, following major building improvement work over the summer.

Local residents can visit the library from 1pm on Tuesday 17th September.

Battle Library has been transformed over the summer, so that more people can enjoy what it has to offer. The much loved library will continue to provide all of its popular library services, as well as Children’s Centre activities, adult learning and community activities.

Work on the £400K project, funded through developer contributions from nearby housing schemes, got underway in May.

The transformation has created a new single storey rear extension alongside internal reorganisation and improvements. The extension has an office space and houses the adult library, which opens up to an outside deck area. An eco-friendly green roof of hardy alpines plants has been installed on the extension.

The internal reorganisation provides a new flexible community space, available for community groups to use outside of library opening hours. This also includes a kitchenette and additional toilet facility. Other improvements include a new library reception desk and general redecoration.

Groups and organisations benefiting from the transformation include: Brighter Future for Children Children’s Centre activities, West Reading Together, New Directions adult learning and Craft & Chat.

Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “I’m delighted the new, improved Battle Library will be reopening this month. By developing the library into a community hub, we can now make even better use of the building and put it at the heart of the local community. The aim of the community hubs is to bring services together in one convenient place for local people, along with decent meeting spaces for local groups. I’d encourage everyone in West Reading to stop by and support their local library.”

Cllr Sophia James, Reading’s Lead Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “I’m really excited to see Battle open again. Last year we successfully launched community hubs in Southcote and South Reading, and these are already proving incredibly popular, well-used spaces.

“The new building in west Reading will not only still provide the much loved library, but will also offer valuable space from which community groups and organisations will be able to deliver a range of activities for local people.”

Donna Sibley and Lynda McCann, Activity Managers with the community group West Reading Together said: “We are so happy that Battle Library is reopening with even more capacity for community groups. It is very much at the heart of West Reading’s community. It offers groups in West Reading an affordable community space to meet up in. Our West Reading Together board game social group meets every Thursday morning and we can keep it free of charge whilst it is in the library. The librarians are wonderfully helpful and supportive, and know many members of the community by name. It is so important for West Reading residents of all ages, that this safe, free and welcoming space is opening again soon.”

The transformation at Battle Library is part of the Council’s £2 million investment in community hubs which bring libraries, children’s centres and community facilities together in one place. South Reading Community Hub celebrated its first anniversary in June this year and Southcote Community Hub will be celebrating its first anniversary in October. Work on upgrading Sun Street Youth & Community Centre to a new hub for east Reading will start in the winter.

To find out more about this exciting project, visit: www.reading.gov.uk/battlelibraryworks

Follow the library service on social media @ReadingLibrary and Facebook @ReadingLibraries for the latest updates.

Ends

Notes

Photo opportunity: The media are invited to the official opening ceremony of Battle Library Community Hub on Thursday 3rd October at 11am.

From 17th September Battle library will be open to the public on these dates and times:

·         Monday Closed

·         Tuesday 1pm to 7pm

·         Wednesday Closed

·         Thursday 9am to 5pm

·         Friday   9am to 12 noon

·         Saturday 10am to 3pm

·         Sundays and bank holidays         Closed

Find out more at: www.reading.gov.uk/battlelibrary

For events at Battle www.reading.gov.uk/libraryevents

History of Battle Library

Top Battle Library Facts

•        Librarians restocked the Battle Library shelves in August 2019 with over 10,000 books!

•        The library opened in 1907. Its existence is thanks to funding from the Carnegie Foundation for the sum of £4,000 (roughly equivalent to £480K in today’s money).

•        It was designed by a local architect, FW Albury, who won a competition to do the work. Many of his buildings still stand in the town centre, including the shops on the corner of Duke Street (including Jacobs the Jeweller) and the corner of Cross Street and Friar Street, as well as the building which now houses the Oakford Social Club and the Corn Stores (opposite the station).

•        The carved stone heads above the library’s entrance are believed to be Newton (although some say it is Milton), Shakespeare and Darwin.

•        The foundation stones laid at the entrance bear the names of the then mayor, Edward Jackson and the rather grandly named Jamieson B Hurry, a local medical practitioner and amateur botanist. He founded the library saying: “I believe access to good books will help check crime and add to the happiness and welfare of the people.”

•        The library acted as a hospital in the early half of the 20th Century and is rumoured to have acted as a mortuary in 1918 when Spanish flu raged through Europe and claimed many victims in Reading.

•        The colourful stained glass in the entrance hall depicts the arms of Reading Abbey, Reading Borough and the University College Reading (later the University of Reading).

•        There are quotations carved into the paved area in front of the library by Judah Ha-Levi and Sir Isaac Newton, by Pip Hall.

About West Reading Together

West Reading Together (previously Oxford Road Timebank) is a small community organisation that aims to bring the community together through activities and events. These include hosting social groups such as the free Board Game group (Thursdays 10.30-11.30am Battle Library, Tuesdays 10.30-11.30 Central Library), West Reading Window Wanderland and supporting residents to organise Play Streets, Street Parties and more. Find out more at Westreadingtogether.org.uk

Victoria Nickless

For media enquiries about this release email victoria.nickless@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 3957