SOUTH Tyneside bookworms have given the borough’s libraries their biggest year yet.
Visitor numbers are up for 2013, despite a common belief that libraries are on the decline.
Book fans of all ages in South Tyneside have been using libraries for more than borrowing books.
They’ve also been going along to enjoy special events, daily and weekly social groups, workshops and lots of other activities.
Visitor numbers have risen 7.5 per cent on last year, with 865,350 visitors using the South Tyneside Libraries Service.
Children were among those to delve into the world of books, with 2,260 youngsters signing up for the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge, which saw libraries issue 47,500 books.
South Tyneside Council also announced plans for two new libraries to be built in South Shields and Hebburn as part of the borough’s regeneration programme.
This year also saw visits by some of the literary world’s most famous authors, including Gervase Phinn and Ann Cleeves.
Other highlights included the launch of the People’s Cafe, the celebration of Learning Disabilities Week, and computer access becoming free to residents across South Tyneside.
Coun Alan Kerr, lead member for culture and leisure at South Tyneside Council, said: “It has definitely been a tremendous year for libraries across South Tyneside, as more people realise they aren’t just places to borrow books.
“They are facilities where people can train, gain new skills, meet new friends and surf the internet.
“The excellent attendance figures are just deserts for all of the hard work that has been put in all year round, and long may it continue into 2014.”
For more information about events and services being provided by South Tyneside Libraries Service, go to www.southtyneside.info/Libraries