A FRESH chapter has started in the long history of a Sunderland library.
Hendon Library was among nine axed by Sunderland City Council last year in a bid to save more than £800,000 in running costs.
The building, built in 1908 with funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, has now been officially re-opened, thanks to an army of volunteers.
Charity Back on the Map (BotM) re-launched the library as a one-stop shop for residents – combining book lending with a drop-in IT centre, NHS services and a base for local groups.
Former Sunderland MP Chris Mullin cut the ribbons at the historic building in Villette Road.
He said: “This beautiful little gem, which was built at the beginning of the last century, has served Hendon as a library for many years.
“Sadly, the need for a library is not as great as it was and council funding is not as great as it was, but by a stroke of genius it has been turned over to the community, who are making excellent use of it.
“It is lovely to see the care with which they have restored it and a lot of the original features have been preserved.
“I think it will provide a haven for all sorts of people.”
Chris, who has moved to north Northumberland with his family, has seen many changes in the 23 years he served Sunderland, between 1987 and 2010.
He said: “In the Hendon area, there have been a lot of changes, mostly for better.
“Hendon was in real trouble in the 1980s and 1990s. But if you look at the Back on the Map regeneration programme, which spent £54million over 10 years, they helped build three new schools and helped fund community projects which have had an impact on the community.
“The other thing which I think was a very good use of their money, was that they did up 12 of the most derelict streets.”
Chris also unveiled the library’s original brass plate, restored by resident Eddy Moore.
People then gathered to hear historian Ron Lawson give a talk on the history of Andrew Carneige.
Hazel Clark, MBE, Back on the Map chairwoman, praised everyone who helped get the project off the ground.
She said: “I think this is fantastic that we were given the opportunity to equip the building for the benefit of the local community.
“The work the volunteers have done to get it up and running is just brilliant and just shows that the community spirit is still here, and that is something at BotM we have been keen to become involved with.”