A FEW weeks ago I wrote on the subject of how the town's library could become a fitting memorial to the late lamented Ian Dewhirst.

With some investment and a little imagination, it could become a technologically modern library for the region as a whole, not just for Keighley itself.

This wouldn't be very different from the way Airedale Hospital does not just serve Keighley.

Now it seems the opposite will happen – instead of an expansive approach, Bradford Council prefers to diminish the role of the library for financial reasons; rather, it will become a health services 'hub'.

To suggest, as Mr Bill Graham does – Health services hub planned for library (Keighley News, August 29) – that there is some established connection between learning and good health, would be laughable if it weren't so sad.

Surely he is stretching a point to suit his and Modality's motives.

God help the sick who clearly did not have sufficient access to education and therefore to knowledge.

A few years ago, I wrote several letters about Sir Swire Smith and his international importance in establishing a model of technical education (the Mechanics' Institute).

German industrialists came to Keighley to study how we were doing it here.

Andrew Carnegie was so impressed he went back to Pittsburgh and financed the largest technical education institution in the world, and he gave his friend Swire Smith enough money to build a library adequate to serve the needs of the institute across the road. Not only is it the first Carnegie free library in the country, architecturally it is probably one of the very best.

In Manchester they celebrate Chetham's Library as possibly the first free access library anywhere. Here in Keighley, we turn ours into a health 'hub', and we allow Bradford Council to vaporise the remains of the Mechanics' Institute into a vacant lot.

The 'hub' could perhaps have been housed in the old Boys' Grammar School, but that has gone too, and its sandstone blocks sold off to developers.

These buildings were closely connected to each other, and to a social ideal of which Keighley can be justly proud.

It was a national ideal and was influential abroad.

At the risk of offending some local people, I would suggest Keighley doesn't have much to recommend it to people elsewhere. What we have we seem ready to destroy.

Sir Swire Smith and Ian Dewhirst were motivated by the idea that ordinary people could better themselves by free access to education.

Am I correct in thinking Mr Dewhirst took early retirement from a job he truly loved because of the interference of Bradford Council? I heard him say so from the pulpit in St Mary's Church, Oxenhope, during one of his wonderful talks.

Perhaps we make a little too much of the Brontes, who it seems to me, few people actually read.

Might I suggest we also praise the names of the likes of Sir Swire Smith and Ian Dewhirst? Amen. We owe them a debt.

CHRISTOPHER ACKROYD Bethel Street East Morton

* E-mail your letters to alistair.shand@keighleynews.co.uk