A unique partnership between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle College has secured the future of three City libraries that were at threat of closure.
The College will be operating High Heaton and Denton Burn libraries as well as supporting the reopening of a refurbished library at Riverside Dene Shopping Centre (the former Cruddas Park Library).
The libraries, along with others across the city, were originally scheduled to close as part of the council’s 2013-16 budget proposals, but the city council invited external organisations and partners to develop business cases to use the buildings for their own services and still retain a library service for the local community.
In addition to running popular services such as school visits, homework clubs and internet access, the College will provide a varied adult education offer including support for the unemployed and Traineeships for young people. The College will also provide adult learning opportunities from the Outer West library and Customer Service Centre, one of the Council’s core libraries.
Principal at Newcastle College, Carole Kitching said: “We are delighted that we have been able to work with the Council to save these libraries from closure. Community groups have worked hard with us to ensure that we can offer the services that local people want.
“As a college, we are passionate about promoting literacy and a love of learning. The partnership with the City Council will see the College and Council library staff working side by side, to secure the future of these wonderful facilities.
“We aim to bring additional new services into these four facilities – including a much more exciting and varied adult education offer and build on the work of local job clubs to support unemployed people using the experience we have of getting people into jobs, training and employment and providing advice and guidance for young people.”
Cllr David Stockdale, Deputy Cabinet Member for Public Health, Culture, Leisure and Libraries for Newcastle City Council, added: “I’d like to thank everybody who has worked hard to make this partnership happen. Newcastle City Council is dealing with disproportionate government cuts to funding. But we are committed to exploring new ways of continuing our valued library services, and working in partnership with other organisations is a key element of making this happen. I am delighted that this new partnership with Newcastle College will protect important library services for Newcastle.”
Plans have been drawn up to accommodate the needs of both organisations and whilst some of library floor space will reduce, it will leave sufficient space for a library service that will be staffed and remain connected to the Newcastle-wide library service.