South Tyneside Council has announced an official opening date for its eagerly-anticipated new cultural venue.
The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, will open its doors to the public on Saturday October 22.
The launch will feature spectacular exhibitions and activities, details of which will be revealed closer to the time.
The external structure and façade of the stunning building in South Shields has been completed by main contractor Bowmer and Kirkland.
Finishing touches are being put in place to the interior, including a beautiful contemporary chandelier in the central atrium and a feature staircase. Lighting, carpets and library shelving have all been fitted.
The Word is the centrepiece of the first phase of the £100m South Shields 365 regeneration masterplan being delivered by South Tyneside Council and its partner Muse Developments.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council. said: "We are excited to be able to announce the opening date of The Word.
"This is a real milestone in the transformation of South Shields. Work is ongoing to bring forward the new transport interchange and improve our retail and leisure offer, all of which will create a vibrant, sustainable town centre which will give the private sector the confidence to invest.
"The Word will have both regional and national significance and will reinforce the Borough's position as a major cultural destination.
"We are looking forward to being able to welcome visitors from near and far. The superb facilities and fabulous exhibitions are guaranteed to impress anyone who walks through the doors."
The cultural centre, which incorporates library and digital media space, will boast an impressive range of facilities including exhibition space, a computer gaming area, a FabLab with 3D printers and vinyl and laser cutters, 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.
The Word will offer an inspirational and exciting celebration of the written word through a rolling programme of high quality exhibitions, events and workshops.
David Wells, Regional Director at Muse Developments, added, "Behind this iconic building, which represents the aspirations of the people of South Shields to regenerate their town centre, is an incredible amount of hard work by all parties concerned and, as partners with South Tyneside Council, we're very excited to see the first phase of the regeneration programme open to the public."
"Reading is such a rewarding and fun pastime that helps children develop language skills and their understanding of the world around them.
"The summer reading challenge and the activities in our libraries over the school break are ideal for children to beat the boredom during the school holidays."
The Big Friendly Reading Challenge is running until Friday 2 September, and those children who complete the challenge by reading six or more books will receive a certificate and a medal.
The initiative run by The Reading Agency since 1999, takes part every year during the six week holidays in libraries across the country.
For further information about The Big Friendly Summer Reading Challenge or for full details of activities at libraries in South Tyneside this summer visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/libraries, call (0191) 424 7885 or pop in libraries for a leaflet.