Photo gallery: Acle unveils its library for all ages

It was a wonderful day for Maisie Pritchard, 94, as she took part in the official opening of the extended and revamped Acle library.

Since moving to the village in 1975, the retired typist has been a regular library visitor, borrowing as many as 10 books at a time.

Hailing the importance of libraries to their community, Maisie, of Nursery Close, said it was great to see such an investment in new facilities at a time when libraries were set to be closed elsewhere.

Joining Maisie for a special cake-cutting ceremony was Emma Crow, of Yare View Close, Reedham, bringing along the library's youngest visitors – her seven-week-old twins, Jennifer and Isabel, and their brother, Archie, aged two.

Mrs Crow, a regular library-user, said she was also keen to start using the attached children's centre, built as part of the �580,000 development.

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Norfolk County Council has led the project which has seen the Bridewell Lane building triple in size.

Cutting a ribbon to mark the transformation, Norfolk County Council chairman Tony Tomkinson described it as a 'team effort' by the council, designer NPS Group and Kier Eastern, the builders.

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Mrs Crow's children are among more than 1,000 under-fives in the Acle children's centre area. Now it has opened they will be able to benefit from health clinics, baby massage and sensory sessions.

Children's centre services will continue to run in village halls, schools and community centres in surrounding villages but the new centre will mean there is an office base and a multi-purpose room in the heart of Acle.

The new building will also support community midwives, breastfeeding clinics, first aid courses and provide advice on benefits and employment.

Bringing the children's centre and library projects together has saved money and meant that the services can share facilities.

The present library opened in 1990 and the transformation has given the library better computer access and additional space for community events and activities.

The children's library has doubled in size.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services, said: 'Libraries and children's centres are fantastic assets for local communities. Research suggests children who access a library and regularly use books do better in all areas of learning. By bringing the two services together they can work jointly to help support families and raise children's aspirations.'

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