South Tyneside bucking the national trend of library closures

The Word being built in South Shields.
The Word being built in South Shields.

South Tyneside is bucking the national trend when it comes to library closures.

A damning new report shows hundreds of libraries across the country have closed since 2010.

However, South Tyneside has not shut any libraries and there are no plans to close any this year.

In fact work is underway on The Word, which will create a new town centre library.

National figures show 8,000 jobs have been lost as nearly 350 libraries have closed since 2010 across the country.

Over the same period, some 15,500 volunteers have been recruited and 343 libraries have closed, leading to fears over the future of the profession.

Children’s author Alan Gibbons said the public library service faced the “greatest crisis in its history”.

The BBC English Regions data journalism team has compiled data from 207 authorities responsible for running libraries through the Freedom of Information Act.

It shows 343 libraries have closed since 2010.

Of those, 132 were mobile services, while 207 were based in buildings.

The number of closures in England is higher than the government’s official estimate of 110 buildings shut and a further 111 closures are planned this year.

Mr Gibbons, who wrote Blue Peter Book Award winner Shadow of the Minotaur, said: “Opening hours are slashed, book stocks reduced.

“Volunteers are no longer people who supplement full time staff but their replacements. This constitutes the hollowing out of the service. We are in dangerous territory.”

Librarian Ian Anstice, who runs the Public Libraries News website in his spare time, said: “Our public library system used to be envy of the world. Now it is used as a cautionary tale that librarians use worldwide to scare their colleagues.”