South Tyneside bucks national library closure trend

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.

“We have tried to create greater resilience” Coun Alan Kerr

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

Work is underway on The Word, a new town centre library.

The number of library staff has fallen from 91 to 61 and the number of volunteers has risen from 27 to 40.

Nationally 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 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.

Councillor Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for leisure and culture, said: “As an authority we have tried to create greater resilience for our library service by investing in new multi-functional facilities against a backdrop of severe financial pressures. These include the library at Hebburn Central and the forthcoming ‘Word’ building.

“Later this year The Word will open in South Shields. This cultural venue will include a new Central Library for the town.”