A new chapter for Whitehead Library

THE official opening of Whitehead's new library took place this week, with local residents and special guests gathering to celebrate the event.

The building on Edward Road received a 365,000 facelift earlier this year, thanks to funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. Refurbishment work lasted for seven months and the building was reopened to the public back in March.

And, according to one member of staff, the new-look library has been a great success, attracting about 250 new members since its reopening..

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Speaking at the official opening last Thursday, business manager Patricia Ward told the TIMES: “The refurbishment work included a major extension to the library. Large new windows immediately draw your eye from the outside and create a much brighter and welcoming area inside. New innovative folding doors have also been added, which means the spacious extension area can be hired out as a meeting room by local community groups

“We now have a lot more space to work with, and our new shelves have been spread out to allow more room for browsing. The library has also been recarpeted and repainted, and new public toilets have been built. I think overall the building is much improved and more inviting than it has ever been.”

Whitehead Library now also boasts nine high-performance computers for members to enjoy, all with free internet access. And library employees have also benefited from the refurbishment, with the creation of a new staff room and toilet facilities.

The library’s former branch manager Hazel Black said: “In the past, staff had to share the toilet facilities with the health centre next door. This new building is beautiful and is just what staff and local people deserve, as Whitehead Library has always been the hub of the community.”

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And the new library received the seal of approval from one of its oldest users, 86-year-old Elizabeth Martin, who has been a member since it first opened in 1960.

She said: “I have been using Whitehead Library for 50 years, and can still remember the old library on Victoria Avenue before it moved up here to Edward Road in 1970. This new building is just lovely and I am delighted with the changes that have been made.”

Thursday’s official opening coincided with National Poetry Day, and to mark the occasion, Northern Ireland poets Frank Ormsby and Maureen Boyle were invited along to read some of their work.

Also in attendance was Lord Lieutenant for Co Antrim, Joan Christie OBE, who performed the official opening ceremony. She was joined by other special guests including Carrick Mayor, Alderman Jim McClurg, MLA’s Sammy Wilson and Ken Robinson, and chief executive of Libraries NI, Irene Knox.

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Mr McClurg said he was very pleased with the refurbishment worked and added: “It is good to see large-scale investment in the other parts of the borough other than Carrick. If Whitehead’s new library is anything to go by, then I am very much looking forward to seeing the new library in Carrick once refurbishment work is completed there.”

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson told the TIMES: “It is great to such this level of investment in libraries. There has been criticism about library closures recently, but I think people forget that a lot of work is going into improving libraries across the province and giving them a greater range of services. Whitehead Library is in a great spot and local people will benefit greatly from this new building.”UUP MLA Ken Robinson added that the new library would serve as a “hub of the community in Whitehead, while also attracting people from the surrounding area”.

To become a member of Whitehead Library, bring along a means of identification and you can make use of the many free membership benefits, including a range of books and audio books, DVDs and CDs, newspapers and internet access. The library also hosts a monthly reading group, which meets on the first Friday of every month at 8pm.

Whitehead Library’s opening hours are Tuesday from 10am to 8pm, Wednesday from 10am to 5.30pm, Friday from 10am to 8pm and Saturday from 10am to 5pm. For more information call 028 9335 3249, email [email protected] or go to www.librariesni.org.uk

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