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The Word in the Running for Top Award

South Tyneside's latest cultural venue has been shortlisted for a major national award - less than five months since it first opened its doors.

The Word, National Centre for the Written Word is in the running for the title of Library of the Year in the British Book Awards.

Only six other libraries have been shortlisted from hundreds of entries from across the UK.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Iain Malcolm, said: "Since The Word opened five months ago, people from the Borough and beyond have been voting with their feet. More than 174,000 people have visited the building and library membership has rocketed by more than 1,000 per cent.

"The Word, of course, is far more than a library, it is an inspirational celebration of the written word. To be shortlisted for this prestigious award is an endorsement of our unwavering vision to make this iconic building a reality."

Marrying tradition with technology, the £16m centre offers an impressive range of facilities including library and exhibition space, a computer gaming area, a FabLab with 3D printers, vinyl and laser cutters, digitised archives, meeting rooms, children's immersive storytelling area, OpenZone IT suite and a café.

The Word appeals to all age groups, offering more than 72,000 books - 9,000 of them new - as well as a feast of interactive activities and experiences. It also hosts a rolling programme of high profile exhibitions, events and writers in residence to celebrate the written word in all its forms to educate, inspire and entertain.

The core library offer is extensive and varied and is designed with local communities in mind. Innovative activities such as the Big North Book Run, the Arts in Libraries project, Reading Ahead and Theakston's Crime Writing Festival are delivered enthusiastically alongside reading groups, children's activities, IT sessions and local history research to provide an all-round service.

Martin Swales, Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council, said: "The Word is the cornerstone of our ambitious South Shields 365 masterplan.

"To be shortlisted for this significant award so soon after the opening of The Word is a tremendous achievement and is a reflection of the Council's vision to make South Tyneside an outstanding place for both residents and visitors."

The winner will be announced in May at Grosvenor House in London.

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