A new chapter has been marked for book lovers in Bridgend County Borough after Minister for Culture and Sport John Griffiths officially opened the all-new Bridgend Library.
The event capped a memorable opening period for the library, which has seen visitor figures flourish since relocating from its former Wyndham Street location last November.
Pupils from Oldcastle Primary’s choir provided a musical welcome for guests as the minister toured the new premises and saw how members of one of the library’s reading groups are making the most of the facilities.
Now located in a larger, more modern space at Bridgend Recreation Centre, the all-new library offers visitors a range of new facilities including state-of-the-art self-service machines, thousands of new books, enhanced ICT equipment including computers and tablet devices, new furniture, reading corners and an exciting children’s space which features a giant book that they can sit in while browsing.
The new library also features improved accessibility for all members. As well as a lift, wheelchair access, user-friendly colour schemes, safer shelving and increased opening hours, two hours’ free car parking has been introduced for all visitors to Bridgend Recreation Centre and new bus stops have been installed just outside with direct links from Bridgend Bus Station.
The library move was supported by a £200,000 Community Learning Libraries Capital grant from the Welsh Government and forms part of the wider multi-million pound improvement works taking place at Bridgend Recreation Centre, which is being implemented through the council’s partnership with Halo Leisure.
Mr Griffiths said, “Investing in the future of our young people to give them the best possible start in life is extremely important so I am particularly pleased at the increase of usage of the brand new library by children.
“This new facility is an innovative and more sustainable model of high quality public service delivery and provides a wonderful destination for the whole family.”
Councillor Lyn Morgan, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, said: “When we first announced proposals for moving the town library from its traditional location on Wyndham Street, some understandable concerns were expressed. However, the new library has been exceptionally popular since first opening.
“Over 17,000 visits were recorded and more than 12,000 library resources were borrowed from the library within the first month. It is currently on target for recording a thirty-three per cent increase in visitor numbers over the course of a year, and a thirty-nine per cent increase in the number of items borrowed.”
A series of children’s events have already been held at the library, including a bilingual fun day, a Christmas storytime performance and a Madhatter’s tea party for local looked-after children.
Combined with the library’s new design and location, this has contributed to a rise in the number of children and young people using the library, which has doubled from 15 to 30 per cent.
The library is now planning to introduce a series of exciting joint events with Halo Leisure which will utilise some of Bridgend Recreation Centre’s other brand new facilities.
Scott Rolfe, Halo’s Chief Executive, said: “We believe that libraries play a crucial role for everyone in the community, from young people studying and looking for work, to older residents keeping their minds active with books and newspapers, and families introducing their children to the wonderful world of reading.
“We’re delighted that the library is located at Bridgend Recreation Centre, and excited about the forthcoming events that we will be delivering together with the library.”
To find out more about the latest developments at Bridgend Library, contact Bridgend Library and Information service on 01656 754800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow @BridgendLibs on Twitter, or like Bridgend Libraries on Facebook.