From ‘at-risk’ library to community hub – and UK Award

Library ‘at risk’ increases opening hours by 300%, saves 30% of costs and wins UK award for community projects

The Cheviot Centre

The Cheviot Centre

A library and tourist information centre which was at risk of closure but fought back, increasing opening hours by 300% whilst saving its local authority 30% in costs, has won a national award for town community projects.

The Community Hub in Wooler has beaten competition from across the United Kingdom to become overall winner of the 2012 Action for Market Towns Awards.

My client, national charity Action for Market Towns (AMT) works with over 450 member towns across the UK and its award scheme showcases the “innovation, self-reliance and creativity” which chief executive Chris Wade says is at the heart of so many UK towns.

Neil Wilson of Glendale Gateway Trust collected the Award at the Action for Market Towns national convention in Kendal last night (Thurs 18th October).

When Northumberland County Council needed to make significant cost savings, there was a real risk that Wooler would lose its Tourist Information Centre and library service – which services an area of some 250 square miles.

But Glendale Gateway Trust instigated and led a partnership project, securing funding for a complete re-fit and relocation of Wooler library, including the Tourist Information Centre within a community facility, and taking on Wooler’s Old Library building for development as affordable housing.

The new library has seen a 20% increase in book lending, 95% increase in visitor numbers and 150% increase in membership – and its opening hours have increased by 300%.

And the relocated tourist centre has seen a 70% increase in gross income.

This isolated rural community now has a real community hub – with long term sustainability. You can watch a short film about the project here:

Sue Bevan, an Action for Market Towns board member and judge of the Awards, said: “I worked on market town development in Northumberland for many years so I am delighted that the Wooler Community Hub has won this award. The project has been realised because of the vision and tenacity of Glendale Gateway Trust, its ability to understand and work effectively within a wider strategic context and its aptitude for working in partnership.  The result is a superb facility for the residents of Glendale.”

Speak Your Mind


Share This