A LIBRARY is attracting people from ethnic minorities for the first time after introducing books in their languages.

When Durham City Library was at its old site on South Street, it seldom saw visitors from other cultures. So when the new Clayport Library opened almost a year ago, staff were keen to change this.

They targeted speakers of the eastern Indic family of languages with posters in mosques, halal stores and hospitals, encouraging them to make use of the facility.

Now the library receives inquiries from throughout the region and has seen a dramatic increase in its ethnic minority visitors.

Library manager June Gowland said: "We have already arranged a subscription with Bradford Libraries to provide books in Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali and Gujerati, and from March, this will be extended to include Hindi.

"Since we opened here, we've seen people of all nationalities, some using us regularly, some just passing through.

"Students and academics from the university have joined in increasing numbers, with some having home addresses from Calais to Canton. Refugees and asylum seekers visited as a group back in May, and several families, including Vietnamese, Chinese and Iranian, now visit every week."

In a bid to help other branches attract people from ethnic minorities, Clayport Library has loaned Urdu books to Shotton Library.

It has also invested in English for foreign language speakers course books in response to numerous requests. In the near future, the library hopes to acquire books in Chinese.

Ms Gowland said it offered many facilities for people of all cultures.

She said: "We have promoted the use of the internet to access newspapers and other materials.

"Our computers can now offer a range of different language sets and there have been requests for spoken word book-with-tape formats for children and adults to improve their English.

"We intend to work even more closely with ethnic groups, in partnership with other agencies, to build on the fantastic success we've had."

A week of activities is planned to mark the library's first birthday on March 10.