EVEN when their library was closed down, the bookworms of Ryton were determined not to give up on reading.
Local people clubbed together and after years of hard work, set up their own community library, staffed by volunteers.
And now the story of their people power has inspired a literary donation from Northern Rock, to help start a new chapter for the venture.
The Newcastle-based bank handed over 300 Penguin Classic books to help stock the library’s shelves.
Ryton’s main library was closed down in budget cuts in 2007, despite a petition of 2,300 signatures to keep it open. It had served the town for 46 years, and local people were determined not to let the resource go without a fight.
Local people and ward councillors battled for a new library space to be opened. Eventually, working with Gateshead Council, the Ryton Community Library, next to Ryton Methodist Church on Grange Road, was born.
The library is managed by the council but staffed by a dedicated and enthusiastic team of volunteers, the Friends of Ryton Library Action Group.
Word of the groups’s hard work for the community spread, and yesterday, Brian Giles, Northern Rock's head of communications, presented them with the collection of literary classics.
“We heard about the work the Friends of Ryton Library is doing and the important service it provides to the people in Ryton and the surrounding area,” said Brian.
“We felt this was a good fit with one of our many community initiatives and Northern Rock is delighted to be able to support the library by donating these books, which we hope will be enjoyed by people of all ages.”
Margaret Goodall, from the library, said: “I cannot thank Northern Rock enough for this generous donation of books. It is great that the bank is prepared to support the community in this way.
“We aim to provide a service for young and old in the local community and with these books we will be able to do so.”
The Friends of Ryton Library – who have just celebrated their first year as a group – support library and community activities, and promote the use of the library as a community resource.
They also run a varied programme of events, including inviting local writers to come and read extracts from their books, and the Rhymetime club for under-fives, where children are read poetry and sing songs with the volunteers and library staff, which has proved a resounding success.
Other upcoming events include a Halloween Lantern making course, a Ryton village photography course, a family history course and a Christmas craft day.
The library is open Monday, 12.30pm-5.30pm, Thursdays 9am-1.30pm and Saturdays 9am-1pm, but can be booked by groups at other times.
The Friends are constantly looking for new members to join their action group while also looking for donations to help with the general day-to-day running of the library. Call 0191 413 1890 for more details.