New Barnard Castle library and council access point prove popular with residents

A NEW library and council customer service facilities have proved popular following the completion of a multi-million pound renovation project.

Durham County Council staff have dealt with 500 inquiries at the new access point in Barnard Castle in the month since it opened.

The library, which is housed in the same building, has seen a surge of interest, with 120 new members joining, more than 6,000 books lent and some 1,000 computer sessions logged.

The library and access point were part of a wider £3.2m regeneration scheme which also included the adjoining Witham Hall arts complex.

At the official opening of the library and access point, Durham County Council leader Councillor Simon Henig said the facilities vindicated the authority's strategy of safeguarding front-line services where possible in an era of budget cutbacks.

“Since the unitary authority was launched, we were determined to put customer services at the heart of what we do,” he said.

This had resulted in a number of new customer access points across the county, now including Barnard Castle.

“Public sector funding continues to reduce and that's likely to continue. That means more difficult decisions about what we can and can't afford,” said Coun Henig.

“We have been working hard to safeguard front-line services where possible. We have prioritised front-line services and worked hard to make major savings in back office costs.”

Having put £2.1m of council cash towards the total cost of the project, Coun Henig said he was impressed with what had been achieved in Barnard Castle.

“We have worked with Barnard Castle Vision and The Witham trustees to restore these historic buildings and fulfil the educational and philanthropic vision of Henry Witham.

“It looks fantastic and is a place people would want to spend time. We are delighted to have joined the library and customer services with a wider set of facilities under the Witham project.”

Coun Pauline Charlton, chairman of Durham County Council, and Coun Henig unveiled a plaque to mark the opening.

Barnard Castle mayor, Coun Frank Harrison, said he was equally impressed with new facilities.

“It is really smart and enhances the town,” he said.

Comments (2)

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6:05pm Wed 12 Feb 14

tomdeacon says...

The new building is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, however I would like to know what happened to all the books. There is a very poor variety of books on show and such a smaller collection. Also why didn't have local author Anne Fine reopening the library? Instead we had Pauline Charlton, a Councillor who has openly criticised the amount of money spent in Barnard Castle and the rest of Teesdale and has written to local press criticising proposed plans that would increase tourism in the town. It seemed like a big back slapping exercise to me with very few people invited to represent local people.
The new building is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, however I would like to know what happened to all the books. There is a very poor variety of books on show and such a smaller collection. Also why didn't have local author Anne Fine reopening the library? Instead we had Pauline Charlton, a Councillor who has openly criticised the amount of money spent in Barnard Castle and the rest of Teesdale and has written to local press criticising proposed plans that would increase tourism in the town. It seemed like a big back slapping exercise to me with very few people invited to represent local people. tomdeacon

9:23am Thu 13 Feb 14

OldBiddyFrom Barney says...

I like the new libarary it is much better laid out than the old one was, I feel it is better to have a smaller selection of books in good clean condition than rows of tatty books. Don't forget you can order any book in, they usually arrive within 10 days so your not limited to the selection on view. The childrens area is larger and hopefully will be more attractive to young familes, because you can now enter the Witham/Libary from the main carpark so it will be much easier to nip in with the kids when you have done your shopping and its all free!

I couldn't really care less who opened it but if I had to give a opinion it should of been the long serving lady from the excellent libarary staff who have had a great deal to put up with over the last few years. What with anxiety about their jobs and getting moaned at by the public over the move to the council offices, and it can't of been much fun shifting all those books about. Well done ladies you showed your usual 'grace under fire'

Lastly when I saw the rows of laptops I thought 'yer what why is all this money being spent on laptops!' the fact is many people in this town can't afford the internet and need access to search for work, the older members of are community can go on courses here to see yes they are capable of learning how to skype their grandbairns ect They are a important community resource and we in Barney have to get onboard or get left behind. Adapt or die out
I like the new libarary it is much better laid out than the old one was, I feel it is better to have a smaller selection of books in good clean condition than rows of tatty books. Don't forget you can order any book in, they usually arrive within 10 days so your not limited to the selection on view. The childrens area is larger and hopefully will be more attractive to young familes, because you can now enter the Witham/Libary from the main carpark so it will be much easier to nip in with the kids when you have done your shopping and its all free! I couldn't really care less who opened it but if I had to give a opinion it should of been the long serving lady from the excellent libarary staff who have had a great deal to put up with over the last few years. What with anxiety about their jobs and getting moaned at by the public over the move to the council offices, and it can't of been much fun shifting all those books about. Well done ladies you showed your usual 'grace under fire' Lastly when I saw the rows of laptops I thought 'yer what why is all this money being spent on laptops!' the fact is many people in this town can't afford the internet and need access to search for work, the older members of are community can go on courses here to see yes they are capable of learning how to skype their grandbairns ect They are a important community resource and we in Barney have to get onboard or get left behind. Adapt or die out OldBiddyFrom Barney

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