A NORTH Northumberland library – a trail-blazing county council and community partnership – was officially opened last week.
Wooler’s new library moved into a new extension in the Cheviot Centre in November and prior to the official opening last Thursday, visitor numbers had increased by 120 per cent and library membership was up 150 per cent.
The opening ceremony was performed by Sarah Davidson, a former Wooler ward county councillor with a strong interest in libraries, whose family has helped to fund the project.
Mrs Davidson also opened the newly-named Tom Sale Hall in memory of one of the trust’s founding members who died last year. She was accompanied by Tom’s wife Margot to unveil a plaque.
Cutting the opening ribbon, Sarah Davidson said: “Tom Sale would have loved to see this finished library in the Cheviot Centre.
“Tom was, of course, the first chairman of the Glendale Gateway Trust back in 1996 and it is worth reflecting that when the trust was formed, no one really understood what a development trust was for and what it would do.
“Tom steered the trust through the difficult first years which involved the trust finding its feet, developing its skills, building partnerships.”
Aware that all statutory services were under pressure because of Government cutbacks, Glendale Gateway Trust approached the council back in 2010 and offered to re-locate the library into the community resource centre and work with the council on a joint management arrangement.
Trust director Tom Johnston said: “Incorporating the library into the Cheviot Centre was always an ambition, but this time the right people were sitting around the table and we’ve been able to ensure everyone benefits – the community by better access, the council by providing a better yet more-economical service and the trust by earning extra income to support its sustainability.”
Coun Neil Bradbury, executive member for customer relations and culture, said: “Wooler is leading the way with this innovative scheme. It’s involved a number of partners working together to strengthen community services and get the best for the town.
“At the heart of the library move was our desire to make services more accessible for the public and extend opening hours significantly, which we have managed to do.
“This new centre is a fantastic resource. It has been a great success story and the user statistics bear this out.
“The centre looks brilliant and will be a focal point for the area for many years to come.”