Whitburn Library becomes cinema as community project turns a page on the building's history
Lights, camera, action – a saved library saved from closure is telling stories in a different way after a community group set up a cinema in the building.
Whitburn Village Library, which was formerly run by South Tyneside Council, was set to close after budget cuts – but was saved by community group Friends of Whitburn Library. but was saved by community group Friends of Whitburn Library.
Since then, the library has seen its computer network upgraded, been redecorated and now the new cinema is the latest chapter in its revival.
Chairman of Friends of Whitburn Library, Rory Thompson, said: “It’s quite an old population in Whitburn and the nearest cinema is four or five miles away. I thought it would be a nice idea for people to be able to walk somewhere local to see a film.”
The first ever film screening at the cinema had residents singing along to ABBA classics like Dancing Queen, Super Trouper and Mamma Mia.
Organisers said the screening was well attended by residents in the community, and the group is hoping the cinema night will be the first of many to come.
Film screenings in the cinema will be free of charge, and refreshments will be available at a price with the idea behind the showings being to make the library sustainable for years to come.
Funding for the cinema came from the National Lottery and the library is looking for new ways to reach out to residents in the area and become a community hub for Whitburn.
Since reopening last April, the library has seen an increased footfall, established links with local primary school’s,
Library trustee, Bill spoke about the community reaction to the new cinema and the library being saved last year, he said: “The reaction since reopening has been very positive. We’ve become more than just a library.
This place is vital to the community. People need places like this, it’s some people's only point of social contact.”
Whitburn Village Library currently connects with the community by being more than just a library and playing host to quizzes, music nights, talks and children’s classes.