The Word: A library for the 21st century, delivering social, cultural and economic objectives

DICKSON, Steve and SHANKS, Edward (2017) The Word: A library for the 21st century, delivering social, cultural and economic objectives. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 243 - Metropolitan Libraries.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1667
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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.

Abstract

The Word: A library for the 21st century, delivering social, cultural and economic objectives

The Word, National Centre for the Written Word in South Shields, represents a real paradigm shift in the community library building typology. It is a library for the 21st century, celebrating the dynamic relationship between people, books, traditional media and interactive technologies, in a truly inspiring environment. The Word is a place for people; the human-centric design placing the individual at the heart of the opportunity to interact, learn and delight. The Word forms the centrepiece of major regeneration plans for South Shields a coastal town which has suffered over many years from economic hardship due to the decline of local heavy industries. The move to use a public library as a catalyst for regeneration and community cohesion was a bold one. South Tyneside Council outlined a vision for a library which was not only a repository for books, but a place of cultural interest which would underpin the areas wider cultural offer, encouraging visitors from across the region and further afield. The role of the library in a modern, digital society is changing and The Word reflects this, offering a physical and digital environment which enables each visitor to express their own creativity, providing a gateway to cultural, social and entrepreneurial exploration. Since opening, The Word has captured the imagination of demographics not usually associated with this building type, creating a diverse and inclusive space which provides opportunities for all. The unique and innovative combination of 21st century library, digital media centre, community hub and national cultural institution, has exceeded all expectations, bringing tangible social, cultural and economic benefits to South Shields.

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