South Tyneside’s newest building – The Word, National Centre for the Written Word – welcomed almost 21,000 visitors in its first week.
The new cultural venue attracted 4,000 people on its opening day alone, with queues stretching right around South Shields Market Place before the doors opened.
More than 6,700 books were issued in the first week – almost double the number issued in the same period last year in the Central Library.
There were 141 new library borrowers, and computer use increased by more than 250%.
Marrying tradition with technology, the multi-million pound centre offers a range of facilties including library and exhibition space, a computer gaming area, a FabLab with 3D printers, vinyl and laser cutters, digitised archives, meeting rooms, children’s immersive storytelling area, OpenZone IT suite and a café.
It is designed to appeal to all age groups, offering more than 72,000 books – 9,000 of them new – as well as a feast of interactive activities and experiences.
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “We are thrilled that The Word proved so popular in its opening week, and we are confident it will continue to welcome many more visitors from across the borough, the region and beyond.
“We have kept everything that people loved about the old Central Library – wonderful books, thriving community groups, a much-loved local and family history section – and housed it all in this landmark building with a whole host of state-of-the-art facilities and activities.
“It is no wonder that both young and old have been singing its praises.”