The Kittiwake Trust

Multilingual Library




The celebration of our re-opening, which was held on Saturday March 23 was a joyous occasion with friends old and new visiting. We estimate around 100 people must have joined us - some discovering us for the first time. We signed up a few new members during the afternoon and expect many more will return soon. Sadly the press and media completely missed the opportunity to record this event which our Patron, David Crystal said would go down in the history of Gateshead.


The afternoon began with Professor David Crystal joining us via a Zoom link. His talk is to be seen HERE

we are so grateful that he took the time during the weekend to speak to us about multilingual libraries - both he and our other guest, John Vincent said they don't know of any other multilingual libraries like this in the country. There are a few multilingual children's libraries, or corners of public libraries with books in different languages, but a library for adults and children, with well over 100 languages and dialects, open to all, with a very modest membership fee seems to be unique.


John Vincent came all the way from Devon to join us. John has worked in the public sector since the 1960s, primarily for Hertfordshire, Lambeth and Enfield public library services. In 1997, he was invited to become part of the team that produced the UK's first review of public libraries and social exclusion (from which The Network, which he now coordinates, originated).

John runs courses and lectures, writes, produces regular newsletters and ebulletins, and lobbies for greater awareness of the role that libraries, archives, museums and the cultural & heritage sector play in contributing to social justice.

He is particularly interested in supporting the work that libraries do with people seeking sanctuary and other 'new arrivals' to the UK, young people in care and with LGBTQ+ people.

His talk can be seen HERE                                                             

After the speeches, Amina spoke briefly to thank the many people who had helped transform a worn-out pub into a vibrant and beautiful library, from Darius and Graham who painted and papered and dismembered the seating, the electricians and plumbers, the couple who moved all our stock out of Newcastle and into the new location, the many many volunteers who unpacked and cleaned and shelved the books and the council employees who were coaxed and cajoled into getting the nitty gritties taken care of. Special thanks went to Joe Anderson who took care of coordinating the volunteers at the library from the day we opened on 1 August 2023 until 1 March. He will now finally get to take the trip he planned before lockdown. We wish him well - safe journeys and happy landings.


Finally she called Meg Gilley to the stage. Meg had been Vicar of St Chad's, Bensham for 9 years. Her retirement came during lockdown, so there was no chance to give her any kind of leaving do at the time. Sadly it appeared that no-one had thought to honour her work after things opened up again, so we took this opportunity to share a little of our party and give her thanks and an Easter egg. Meg is a wonderful person and deserves more.

We were delighted to welcome the Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Eileen McMaster and show her round the library. She cut the beautiful cake, made by Marran Turner, one of our former volunteers. It was the Mayor's third official duty of the day, so we hope that a little cake, a brew and a quick glass of Rochester's Ginger revived her.

Photos John Robert Hipkin.