Over the Easter weekend we welcomed our millionth visitor!
Since opening in October 2016, people from across the world have headed to our venue, to borrow books, visit exhibitions and take part in the ever-changing programme of events and workshops.
Reaching 1 million visitors is a huge milestone for us and it shows we are achieving our aim – to be a top cultural venue and library for the 21st century. We’re so please with how people from South Tyneside and beyond have really engaged with us and have enjoyed what we are doing here.
Built to celebrate the written word in all its forms, The Word’s Library, which has more than 70,000 books, has attracted visits from librarians from as far afield as New Zealand and The Netherlands. Recent figures also show there has been a 43.3% increase of books issued since the old Central Library moved to The Word from its former home at St Georg Square and 36% more people are actively borrowing books.
The ever-changing programme of exhibitions and displays have also attracted wide appeal – from our hugely popular Monsters! The Good, the Bad and The Cuddly, to Cracked! Secret Codes and Communication.
Authors, playwrights and poets, from David Baddiel and Vera creator, Ann Cleeves, to crime queen Val McDermid and Michael Chaplin, have given talks and held workshops here, while our annual, WRITE Festival, which celebrates words in all their forms and uses, will return for the third year this Spring from Saturday 11 to Friday 24 May.
Another aim for us was to make creativity and words relevant to younger visitors and we believe that our digital and design facilities have been instrumental in engaging visitors of all ages.
One of the facilities is our FabLab, which not only provides a creative space for budding product designers and entrepreneurs to test out ideas and bring them to life, but also gives them access to 3D printers, vinyl and laser cutters as part of a programme of workshops.
In addition, OpenZone @ The Word supports schools by using technology to enhance learning and teaching. With two state-of-the-art digital classrooms, a media studio and access to the FabLab, the OpenZone team help students and teachers develop a variety of cross-curricular projects from film-making to animation and coding.
Digital facilities also include the immersive and unique StoryWorld which incorporates stunning backdrop projections and sound effects so families and children can lose themselves in the depths of a story.
We’re very grateful for everyone who has visited us so far and that have used our facilities and services. Now, it’s full steam ahead to welcome our next million visitors.