IT would be churlish in the extreme to do anything other than congratulate the new leadership of Darlington council for performing a U-turn over the Crown Street library.

We’ve called on the council to listen to the people, and it has. The recommendation that the service stays at Crown Street is very welcome, and the campaigners who have kept the library’s predicament at the forefront of the town’s mind should also be congratulated.

It is true that the town centre situation has changed since the decision to re-locate was taken nearly three years ago. It would have been ironic if the council had fought to prevent Binns from being boarded up only for it to board up the iconic library – that would have been a self-inflicted wound.​

It is also fair to note that the old regime at the council took tough, unpopular decisions due to austerity and, because of those decisions, the new regime has a budget that is strong enough to withstand the u-turn.

But, even though ways that libraries are used in the digital age are obviously changing, the benefits of switching to the Dolphin Centre were never clearly explained, and some services, such as local history, were to be badly undermined.

And there’s a feeling that Crown Street was never given the support it needed to transition from a Victorian book store into a 21st Century information centre.

Hopefully, the £2m the council is pledging to invest will provide that support, as well as a watertight roof.

Because even in the digital age, a vibrant library can still play an important role in promoting arts, culture and tourism, in assisting the 11 per cent of households that don't have internet access, in introducing children to the joys of reading, in helping students, and in providing a social space for older people. And a town without any interest in its own heritage is a town without a heart.

The council has yet to produce a blueprint to show how the library can reach out to a new audience, but we are delighted that it is now, at last, beginning to help it find a future in its historic home.

What is your reaction to the news Darlington Library will stay open?

What is your reaction to the news Darlington Library will stay open?

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