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The Word is on the street!

An image of the children's immersive storytelling area

The Word is out!

'The Word' has been revealed as the name of the new library and digital media centre which will be the jewel in the crown of the £100 million regeneration of South Shields town centre.

The state-of-the-art facility will be a regional centre inspired by all aspects of the written word.

The three-storey building, being built on the town's Market Place, will celebrate the Borough's literary heritage.

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "The Borough's tradition of writing stretches right back to Bede, who was one of this country's truly great authors and scholars.

"The Word will marry the traditional library with a superb 21st century digital environment, reflecting the fact that the written word comes in so many different forms these days, from screen plays to social media.

"It will not only be a fantastic facility for residents, but will put South Tyneside on the map as a vibrant culture and leisure destination 365 days a year."

The centre will boast an impressive range of facilities including exhibition space, computer gaming area, design and innovation studio with 3D printers, digitised archives, meeting rooms, children's immersive storytelling area, OpenZone IT suite, café and a rooftop restaurant and terrace providing stunning views over the river.

Cllr Malcolm added: "This is going to be a landmark building which will inject renewed vitality into the town.

"We are confident that it will attract people from across the region and beyond and drive footfall into the town centre.

"For children and young people in particular we hope that The Word will stimulate creative ideas, foster a love of writing and develop computer and literacy skills in the region."

The building's name has been revealed on World Book Day. Its logo reflects the building's circular shape with a wireless symbol representing communications in and out.

The Council and its development partner Muse Developments will soon announce the contractor appointed to carry out construction of the building, which forms the first phase of the South Shields 365 project.

David Wells, Development Director of Muse Developments, said: "Muse Developments is proud to be part of the redevelopment of South Shields town centre and is pleased that The Word is now becoming a reality.

"The Word will provide exciting opportunities to learn, engage and discover using the latest technology, as well as acting as a thriving community hub.

"We're confident that we will give both South Tyneside residents and the wider region a facility that they will be proud of. 

"We are close to appointing a contractor for the physical construction, who will start on site soon with a view to having the Word open to the public in the autumn of 2016."

South Tyneside Council has entered into partnership with New Writing North to establish The Word as a real home for North East writing talent. It will host writers' workshops and exhibitions as well as a series of writers in residence.

Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North, said: "The North East has such a rich heritage of world class writing and writers.  Making a home for them in South Shields's impressive new library will create an exceptional resource within the region, creating a meeting place for readers and writers to connect and work and ideas to be shared and explored.

"The region has always been a democratic place for literature but the development of The Word and its interest in connecting the region's literary heritage to contemporary writing is a really exciting proposition for both those that write and those that love to read".

North East writer Michael Chaplin said: "I think The Word is the most fantastic idea and I don't think there is anything else like it in the country.

"I am a great fan of libraries and librarians, they are one of the reasons I became a writer in the first place. As a child I fell in love with books. Not everyone likes books, but everyone loves hearing a good story, be it in the form of film, TV or a play. That's why this concept, a centre for the written word, celebrating the world of stories, will be so inspiring.

"The building itself is going to be very beautiful and striking, and whether viewed from South Shields or from a ferry going out to sea or the other side of the river, it will be like a beacon.

"I also think it is a very welcoming concept. Traditionally, libraries could be rather foreboding places but The Word promises to be inclusive to all. I can't wait for it to be built and opened."

Preliminary works have been ongoing for several weeks to prepare the site for construction.

Archaeological investigations have already been completed on the former Wouldhave House site and the Market Place, trial holes have been hand dug to locate utilities and topographical, drainage, noise and ecology surveys have been carried out.

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