New library opens in Walthamstow

Waltham Forest’s new Wood Street Library has now opened its doors to the public.

Originally supposed to open late last year, the new building in Troubridge Square in the Marlowe Road estate is open seven days a week, for double the hours of the previous library.

The former Wood Street Library site will be sold to fund both the new library and part of the extension of Lea Bridge Library.

Many residents have publicly mourned the loss of the original building, which dates from the 1950s and will be demolished.

Cllr Paul Douglas, cabinet member for culture, who cut the ribbon today, said: “Buildings are important but it’s about what goes on inside and we could not provide the service we want to provide in the old building.

“I genuinely believe the new library is a lovely, warm, welcoming experience and the old building was not.”

The council maintains that it would be too expensive to refurbish or even maintain the former site due to a number of problems with the building.

It is intended that the site will become a “children’s family housing hub”, Cllr Douglas explained, although the plans “have not been fleshed out” yet.

The positives of the new library, he said, were that “it’s bigger, has the same number of books, is open longer and seven days a week and has a cafe and outside seating space”.

Unlike the previous building, the new library is fully accessible. The in-house cafe will be run by the council, with any profits going back towards the library.

Cllr Douglas said community-led engagement boards had been “integral to the layout and design” of the new building and he was not aware of any requests that were not included.

A public consultation held when the decision to relocate was first made, which received more than 1,000 responses, found 69 per cent of local people disagreed with the move.

Due to the coronavirus, books returned to the library will be quarantined for three days before returning to the shelves.

The new library is open 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm on Saturdays, and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter