Celebrating landmark chapter in history of Crompton Library

THERE has been a library provision in Shaw and Crompton since 1907.

But it was a more recent anniversary celebrated with a talk and birthday cake by staff past and present.

Thirty years ago the ‘new’ Crompton library was officially opened by Oldham-born actress Meg Johnson – a plaque on the wall close to the main entrance marks the occasion.

The Farrow Street East premises replaced the Carnegie building – now housing apartments – on Beal Lane which opened in 1907.

By the late 1980s though, it had grown too small and not centrally situated.

So a new building was planned and built in the centre of the town.

At the time Neil Simpson, then Director of Oldham Leisure Services, said: “Crompton was the first in the borough to offer an extended range of lending and reference services.”

Two of the libraries’ oldest borrowers, sisters Marie and Prudence Bradley, who had written a book about the former library were guests of honour.

There was not unanimous approval. Tory councillor Terry Rees complained about the building’s bright scarlet cladding.

In 2019, guest of honour was former librarian, local historian and author Frances Stott, who treated the audience to an illuminating talk.

Also in attendance were David Wilson, Oldham’s senior library officer and Subnum Hariff-Khan, library and information manager.

“This is still a baby in terms of age for a library,” said David.

“We have got others which have been around for a long time.

“But like all the others we deliver a whole range of services and activities,” added Subnum.

“They are very much a community hub. They can provide digital skills for young people and help people who may be suffering from social isolation.

“It’s a meeting space, it’s a neutral, non-threatening zone with staff trained to interact. We try to appeal to everyone.”

On Oldham Council’s decision to axe library charges, David added: “I understand it is controversial and it is a big change for us. But it sends out the right message.

“Statistically it bears out that a lot of the most hard-hit people can’t afford to come into the libraries and pay off the fines.

“Libraries do intend to encourage people from those corners of society who perhaps don’t go to other services.”

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