MORE than 50 people packed into a lecture theatre in Barnsley Central Library to protest at the planned demolition of the building.

Everyone who spoke at the meeting, on November 2, expressed their commitment to the existing building and their opposition to its demolition to make way for a new sixth form college.

Kate Burland, who chaired the meeting, said: "For me this campaign is about ensuring the excellent purpose-built library we already have is not demolished. Moving is not an option, the current location and facilities are ideal."

Dave Gibson, who opposes the demolition, taught A-levels at Barnsley Sixth Form College for 24 years before retiring last year.

He agrees a new sixth form building is needed but said there are plenty of other places one could go.

"The plan to build it on Shambles Street is more about the impression a new building there gives to visitors to Barnsley than it is about what is best for students," he said.

Roy Bowser, secretary of Barnsley National Union of Teachers, said: "My union is committed to the library service in Barnsley and we oppose this plan. My members have instructed me to write to the council, expressing our opposition."

As a result of the protest meeting, it was agreed to set up an action committee to campaign during the four-week consultation period on the library's demolition, which started last Wednesday.

The first big public protest planned will be a 'Hands Off Our Library: Hands Around the Library' event on Saturday, November 16 at 11am.

Kate added: "The aim is to get enough people to get a complete circle around the library. We feel that will make a very visual statement that we will not let our library be pulled down."