New chapter for Sunderland City Library

Photograph: Richard Rayner,  North News & Pictures.
Photograph: By Richard Rayner, North News & Pictures.

Sunderland City Library and Arts Centre reopened to the public today (Monday 31 March) with a bumper packed programme of activities.

The library closed at the end of February to allow a £500,000 refurbishment to go ahead – the first since it opened in 1995.

To celebrate the library’s reopening a month long programme of activities has been planned with something for everyone.

These include lots of free fun activities for families, from story telling and rhyme time sessions to face painting, balloon modelling and Easter craft sessions.

There will also be ancestry taster sessions, tours of the library and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Arts, courses on botanical painting, the First World War and social history, fashion shows and talks on the Jane Austin and Tudors periods, and talks on Sunderland’s Edwardian Renaissiance, Mary Anne Cotton and Jack the Ripper.

Improvements to the library include a new computer lounge, free wi-fi throughout the library and an area where people can try out tablet computers and e-readers, to give customers the chance to experiment with new technologies.

The children’s section of the library has also been updated, with the input of children themselves, including one wall which will show a range of projected images, to encourage children to imagine their own stories and as a back-drop to story-telling, rhyme and singing events.

To help make storytimes that bit more magical, children have also been working with local artist Penny Payne to design and decorate a story sofa which will become a focal point for story telling sessions in the library. Children and young people from Valley Road School, New Silksworth Infants School, East area Children’s Centres and Hendon Young People’s Project have all been involved in the project.

The layout of the main library floor has also been opened up with a single central desk and more self service points, while barriers have been removed to make the library more welcoming.

An Arts Council funded project ‘ Happiness is a New Idea’ links the library with the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art on the top floor of the building, with artworks now appearing on all 4 floors of the building.

And the local studies library is in the process of getting 12 new microfilm/microfiche readers/scanners and has also been given a more open layout to create better access to collections.

Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture at Sunderland City Council, said: “The City Library’s a fantastic asset for the city but it was in desperate need of bringing up to date.

“This is all about making it more welcoming for regular library users and encouraging people who don’t use the library to come in and see what it has to offer.

“The improvements and modernisation we have carried out to the City Library are in response to what customers asked for during the extensive library consultation last year.

“I think improvements to the children’s library with the story sofa and the ability to project different images onto the walls for story telling sessions is especially exciting. And it’s great that local children and young people have been involved in coming up with designs for the story sofa and bringing it to life.

“The new computer lounge and wi-fi will also make a big difference and it’s also great that we can now display artworks from the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Arts thorughout the building.”

Source: North News & Pictures

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