Bradford's new City Library had a fairy-tale opening when it threw open its doors for the first time yesterday.
Story-book favourites including Little Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood rubbed shoulders with civic dignitaries and invited schools and other guests at the official opening in the former Bradford 1 Gallery.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Popeye and cuddly Bookstart Bear were also there to join in the celebrations when the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Khadim Hussain cut the red ribbon with a helping hand from Carrwood Primary School pupils Ewan Kirk and Mia Godward, both aged nine, of Holme Wood.
Staff and builders had been working round the clock over the weekend to put the final touches to the two storeys, stacking books onto shelves in preparation for the opening which is being marked by a week of free events for people of all ages to enjoy.
The old Central Library had to close after it was deemed a fire risk by health and safety experts in October, 2011.
A refurbished area of the original library will now be used by the West Yorkshire Archive Service and Bradford Libraries Local Studies library, a re-opening ribbon-cutting also took place there yesterday.
The new City Library will hold 60,000 books, 40 computers, a range of newspapers and journals as well as study space and Wi-Fi. Library staff will be on hand to help people with their choice of books, answer information enquiries and help people gain IT skills.
Groups of children from babies to primary school age were among special guests at the opening, exploring the bright and airy upstairs section dedicated especially to them.
The children’s section will also be the base for an exciting programme of storytimes, rhymetimes, events and activities for children, teens and families.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s executive member for culture, spoke to the waiting crowd shorlty before the opening and said: “It’s great to see everyone here and there’s lots of great books for you. It’s a bit of a tardis – once inside there’s lots of corners to explore and enjoy”
Council leader David Green also spoke before the ribbon-cutting and said: “I’ve already had a sneak preview. It’s a welcoming, light and airy space. It’s a great location, a great facility and a great investment for Bradford.
“I hope to see lots of people using it not just those who have been regular users before but new ones too.”
Aldona Chrzczahoowicz and her son Robert, three, of Great Horton, were among the first in. She said: “It was a surprise to me. We went to the old library but it was shut so someone sent us down here. It’s lovely. We like reading because it helps me with my English and it keeps Robert entertained.”
Carrwood Primary class teacher Danielle Parry said: “We were really excited to be invited down to the opening. There’s not many libraries about now so it’s brilliant to see a new one opening up. You can’t beat a good book!
“It's great to see the children having fun and not being in front of a computer or telly for a change.”
Students at Bradford College were also at the opening, face-painting and will be there throughout the rest of this week providing nail and body art too.