This library looks much nicer when you are close. Built to help create a civic or community centre for a developing area of south Docklands it is right next to the Canada Wharf transport hub and within walking distance of a 1980’s shopping centre. There is more development planned when two large shopping spaces that sit around the shared ‘water’ will be demolished and more housing and retail will take its place. Hopefully there will be some more activity planned for the area as you can see the potential for creating loveliness and activity is not quite there yet.
The library was full to the top on the day I visited and people were being asked to get off the floor and find a chair. It was study for exam time and half term, although the majority of the people in there were teens and adults. My host Linda pointed out that their popularity from day one was partly due to the tiny sized homes many people lived in and the space the library can offer to these people. It was very quiet in there and it felt a bit like a rules rule place to me.
I arrived early for my meeting so decided to visit the ground floor cafe which, along with holds and popular reads, is open from 8.30. Sadly I was unable to get the coffee which had been brewed for me because they didn’t take cards that had to be signed for. Although my card has a pin in NZ it is a sign for in the UK. One lost and very annoyed customer and a wasted coffee. It turns out the relationship is not great with the cafe…not surprised. The area open early is unstaffed and if someone is there it is the security guard.
Another interesting feature of the library is the theatre which holds about 160 people. It is managed by the local theatre group which gets funding for the staffing of it from the library but has to meet income targets which they do by organising events and shows. They set up the stage etc and do all the room bookings and set up. An interesting model I thought and I learnt heaps about what not to do with the theatre which was very valuable. The cafe is supposed to support the shows by being open, but it doesn’t.
I have many photos and more information about this library but am just talking about the special features in this post. I am also getting the hang of the iPad and am now writing the posts in ‘notes’ then copying. Still can’t get the photos to work for me but small steps are ok.