Dalston Library
Staircase inside the Dalston C.L.R. James Library. Photo: Dominic French

Investing in libraries

This new facility will be one of the largest public libraries in the UK, and twice the size of the C.L.R James library that it is replacing.

Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Cllr Jonathan McShane said: “I’m delighted to announce that the brand new Dalston C.L.R James library will open on January 23, making it one of the largest libraries in the country with some of the longest opening hours in London. The Council is committed to ensuring that in Hackney we continue to improve our libraries for the benefit of all residents. We want this brand new library to be a community hub, somewhere that all residents can make use of whether it’s for books, study space, the free use of computers or to hold community meetings and events.”

The Council has been investing in its libraries to provide a first class service for the people of Hackney. The new library is spread over three floors covering 2964 square metres and features separate adult and children's sections, a teen zone and a quick picks area. Each section is colour coded to make it easier for people to find their way around. The quick picks area is designed for people with only a few minutes to spare so they can pop into the library, select a bestseller, issue it to themselves using the state-of-the art self-service technology and be on their way. This area on the ground floor also means people can return books easily at times that suit them.

More for everyone

With over 32,000 items in the new library there is something for everyone to choose from. For younger readers there are over 9,500 books and over 17,000 for adults. People also have a choice of over 1600 free CDs and DVDs and over 200 talking books, study materials and online reference sources. 

There is strong demand for study space and computers at all Hackney libraries which is why Dalston C.L.R James includes 20 dedicated study spaces in the study area and two meeting rooms. The library has 57 computers available to use for free - 10 in the children’s section; 10 in the adults section; 22 in the study area; 3 in the Teen Zone, 2 in Quick Picks section and 10 laptops for use the meeting rooms. The library, like all other Hackney libraries, has free wi-fi throughout. The library will have a cafe, as this is something that customers said they would like to see in Hackney libraries. It will be managed by a local café owner and is set to open shortly after the library.

Hackney Archives on the move

Hackney Archives, is currently moving its collections, including over 20,000 historic photographs, original records of Hackney Council and other local organisations, and what are thought to be the oldest documents in the collections, a bundle of property records relating to land in different parts of London, dating back to 1356, to their new home. In the meantime the searchroom will open on 23 January, along with the rest of the library, to provide access to some of the local studies collections, including microfilm copies of the Hackney Gazette from 1869, maps, digitised copies of photographs and local history publications. The full archives service, providing access to the unique historical documents in the archives, will open soon after the new library.