The chair of Arts Council England Sir Peter Bazalgette officially opened the new £2.7m Library and Customer Service Centre in Billingham.
Boasting a variety of library and customer services under one roof, the modern facility complements the ongoing regeneration of Billingham town centre.
Sir Peter is a leading creative figure behind global TV production company Endemol and has also been awarded fellowships by BAFTA and the Royal Television Society before being knighted in 2012 for services to broadcasting.
He was introduced to Stockton councillors and senior officers before taking a tour and delivering a speech in which he expressed his admiration for the new facility.
The official opening also featured a performance by dance group Urban Kaos, who showcased their interpretation of SIRF 15’s ‘Instant Light’ story, and a bespoke poem written for the event by Kate Fox.
Sir Peter said: “I am delighted to officially open the new Library and Customer Service Centre in Billingham.
“It is a state-of-the-art facility providing the latest technology alongside a wide range of library and customer services and an excellent example of how libraries are being reimagined to lie at the heart of the community.”
Councillor Bob Cook, leader of Stockton Council, said: “Buildings like this are important hubs of our local communities where residents can go to be informed, educated and supported.
“We’ve already seen an increase of four percent in new memberships and eight percent in books issued since the Library’s initial opening in January.
“The Customer Service Centre is an essential part of the Council’s Access to Services programme which aims to make it as easy as possible for residents to interact with the Council through a range of different channels.
“There has been great feedback so far about the new facility and this has been echoed by the building being awarded the prestigious Best New Public Building prize at the Local Authority Building Control Northern Regional Awards.”
Visitors are benefitting from new self-service technology as well as improved ICT and reference facilities alongside a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books. The building also houses Billingham Town Council’s headquarters.