VOLUNTEERS are set to start a new chapter at a library which was closed under council cuts.
Hendon Library was among nine axed last year, as Sunderland City Council sought to save more than £800,000.
However, community charity Back on the Map (BotM) is set to re-open the building as a one-stop shop for residents – combining book lending with a drop-in IT centre, NHS services and a base for local groups.
Other uses could include a community cinema, said charity boss Jen McKevitt, which have all been welcomed by residents. She said: “People are delighted. We have had loads and loads of positive feedback.
“We have had a lot of people coming into our office in Villette Road and asking what is going on with the library. At two public meetings, 15 to 20 people came forward to volunteer.”
Staffed by volunteers and lending books out on an “honesty” scheme, Hendon would be part of the city library network. The building was built in 1908, with funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Ward councillor Barbara McClennan first mooted the idea of BotM taking on the historic library, which hopes to attract Lottery funding.
She said: “These days, you can’t have a building for each service.
“This is about maximising the usage of a building which has a unique place in people’s hearts and making it fit for purpose in the 21st Century.”
Coun Michael Mordey added: “BotM putting the bid together was fantastic. It will be a bigger and better service.”
Councillor John Kelly, portfolio holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “We have been in discussions with Back on the Map for some time about them using the former Hendon Library building as a base, with local ward councillors playing a key role.
“We’re particularly pleased that there’s going to be a community book collection there.”
It is hoped Hendon library will re-open on April 1. Would-be volunteers can contact Joanne Tench, on Tel. 568 9310.