When I worked at Hackenthorpe, that was in the early '80s, and libraries still hadn't changed an awful lot. Well, they'd changed; like, we had animals coming into the library. We used to have a farm that came in regular, we had some wild animals came in, snakes and things – which I weren't thrilled with in library! We used to have big events. We did a Yorkshire evening. It was a one-off at that time, but they so enjoyed it. They were singing, reminiscing, they were talking about their childhood, because at that time they were old to us (myself and Chris, who works at Manor Library now). It was just a fantastic atmosphere what they did, you know, but it was a time when you could have drinks in the library and food – meat and potato pies – it was the start of a community, I think, they really liked it.
It's a shame people will not see that part of it again. There's a lot of different groups now – there's a lot of social groups, craft groups, there's a painting group – and they're all well attended. I think with a lot of closures in the area, through budgets and things, a lot of people see the groups as a lifeline. I mean there's a group, Stitches, on Thursday afternoon here. It's not a very big group because, unfortunately, the numbers are dwindling through age. You know, things have happened, but it's really nice and they love to come to it. That and the Knit and Natter's mostly women; the painting one's got the gentlemen in, but the majority of groups are for ladies really. But there's also a bereavement group that we have down here on Fridays, that's very well attended. And then they have Heeley Development come on a Wednesday, because there's more and more people needing to learn how to do the computers now.
A lot of the older generation miss the desk when the librarian served you, not the machine – they've still not gotten over that. It's funny because at one time you knew everybody's name, because names were on the cards that they'd give in. So in some ways you know the people coming in but the names have gone, because you're not getting it all the time, which is sad. I think it's just that a lot of people see them as a community, especially the ladies that come out – your lifelines like the Knit and Natter – because there's a lot of those ladies only come out once a week to see people, talk about old times. They've all of the times been library users anyway. I mean there is odd people that come to these groups and they've never been in the library, but the majority have all come to the libraries.
I think it's sad with the opening times, because there's a lot of people now, if they're working, it's difficult to get in. We used to be opening until 8 o'clock at night, and that's not happening now. Obviously things are easier now, there's a lot of ebooks out there and people's lifestyles change. But I still think it's good that people's coming in, be it for whatever. A lot, because of the baby groups in the area, they were cut, and there's nowhere to go. With the young mums, they don't see anybody and nursery places, they're hard to come by. It's finances for a lot of them as well. We have a midwife group that come – libraries have certainly changed! We're doing all sorts. We do different groups as well in our art space downstairs, so the building's really well used.
Name: Dot (library worker)
Library: Crystal Peaks