A new chapter

Inside Wanstead LibraryInside Wanstead Library

If you've not been to Wanstead Library since its recent refurbishment, then you're in for a pleasant surprise, says Library and Heritage Services manager at Redbridge Libraries Anita Luby.

The new look Wanstead Library is a bright, airy, contemporary and welcoming space that feels so much bigger than its previous incarnation. Long gone is the water-damaged buckled floor, covered in an unattractive beige carpet so full of damp that the smell of mouldy socks pervaded the whole building. Gone too are the mismatched chairs and tables and rows of uniform wooden shelves that were difficult to navigate because they were so tightly rammed full of books.

The floor has been replaced with a lovely beech wooden floor that complements the stunning ceiling above (for the record, the ceiling has always been there; you probably never noticed it before because it was being oppressed by all the surrounding beige!). Curvaceous bookcases in an attractive grey and 'pigeon' colour combination have now replaced the old bookcases that hadn't moved for over 30 years. These flexible shelves are on wheels, which makes it easier for staff to move them around to create larger or smaller spaces within the library.

Vision RCL, who manage the library service on behalf of the council, brought in Opening the Book, the leading UK supplier of library furniture. They are experts in creating spaces that accommodate the needs of every type of library user, and at Wanstead Library this is only too evident, where the challenges of an open-plan library have been overcome.

The children's library is now much bigger in order to accommodate the area's growing number of young families. It boasts a stunning new 'Big Book' installation, featuring a quote that will thrill Harry Potter fans of all ages. The brightly coloured bookcases, which encourage play as well as reading, are back, as is the ever-popular reading hideaway. There are zones for children to study as well as a dedicated area for young people, who will love meeting their friends and studying on the 'byte' tables. The new and improved children's library is a truly inspirational space, which will help foster a love of reading in Wanstead's youngsters for many years to come.

The adult sections of the library are really well served too. There are nine public computers, free Wi-Fi, reading nooks and study areas. There's even a dedicated chess table! Due to the new layout, a storytime session can take place in the children's library at the same time as someone working on a PC in the adult library, without the noise being a distraction.

Although the library has not been reopened long, the community has been flocking back, and they have been overwhelmingly positive about the improvements. Although the library had to close for three months (which felt like an eternity for many), I hope you will agree it was worth the wait in the end.

Wanstead Library is located on Spratt Hall Road. For more information, call 020 8708 7400 or visit wavidi.co/libraries

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