Ponteland Library move prompts a surge of new members

The relocation of Ponteland Library into the town’s leisure centre has prompted a surge of new members.

The library has welcomed more than 50 new members in the space of one week, after moving from nearby Thornhill Road into a new space on the ground floor of the leisure centre.

A further 50 customers have given positive feedback about the use of space, better parking, the availability of books, and the convenience of having library and leisure services together under one roof.  

Opening times have increased from 32 to 100 hours a week and the library is also now equipped with a self-service machine for speedier book borrowing.  

The move is part of Northumberland’s Sustainable Libraries Programme, which aims to secure the future of libraries across the county, in spite of budget cuts and at a time when council-run libraries are closing in record numbers.

It will also establish a community hub and a one-stop shop for council services, for greater convenience to local people, and help the county council to make essential savings in the process.

County Councilor Grant Davey, Leader of Northumberland County Council, officially reopened the library on Monday. He was joined by Active Northumberland’s Chief Executive, Lorraine Dewison, and County Councillor Val Tyler, Cabinet Members for Arts, Culture, and Leisure. 

He said: “Bringing libraries and leisure centres together makes perfect sense both for local people and for the county council, as we look for ways to protect and improve our frontline services.

“Integrating services in this way has had proven results in other parts of the county, with clear benefits such as longer opening hours, improved accessibility and convenience, and better value for money all round.

“The new library is already a more valuable service. There’s a real buzz about the place, with people coming into use the leisure centre and sticking around to read a book afterwards.

“This is just one of many similar moves being pushed forward as part of our Sustainable Libraries Programme, which has so far enabled us to avoid any library closures in the county. We believe this is the most resourceful way to protect our services and ensure best value for money.

“I would like to thank our customers for their patience as the project took shape, and our library staff for ensuring a smooth transition.”

Lorraine Dewison, Chief Executive of Active Northumberland, said: “The beauty of this new setup is that leisure customers can become library customers and vice versa.

“The space has been very thoughtfully mapped out, with quiet rooms where people can study in silence, and a vibrant children’s section where families have a great selection of books at their fingertips.

“We are all very encouraged by some of the early feedback we have received and by the upsurge in memberships, which shows that people have responded very positively to the changes here.”

Visitors have taken the chance to have their say on the change of location, by completing feedback forms at the library:

“Although I was very upset that the library was to close, I must say that the new setting is very pleasant and the staff very helpful.”

“Light, bright and easy to park. Still a good choice of books.”

“Am pleasantly surprised at how the new arrangements have worked out - it’s been great to come and use laptop and fast internet. Much better than expected!”

“Wonderful use of space.”

"Excellent having library with pool as kills two birds with one stone. Wouldn’t have joined otherwise.”

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