Stratford Library


For London’s Newham Council I visited Stratford Library. Even though it was spring the twinkly lights were still in place – now I’m writing this in December they look more appropriate.

The library has very good opening hours being open until 8pm – even on Saturdays – and is open 1-5pm on Sundays too. There’s an extensive list of clubs and events held at the library listed on the website and a pleasant meeting room that can be hired by the community and booked online.

It is not surprising that in 2018 the local community voted Newham Council Libraries as some of the best libraries in the country largely due to their work engaging with local people.

The inside of library seemed quite well kept and modern with the grey carpet and white wooden bookcases on wheels and then some splashes of colour on the occasional wall.

Some nice banner displays of local women produced in conjunction with University College London. Also banners encouraging people to take tango lessons in the library.

I really liked this permanent illustrated map of the area on a curved wall near the exit.


Bournemouth Library


Whilst at a conference in Bournemouth (June 2019) I had the opportunity to visit the library there.

It is a large building however, the upside down pink house that was outside really draws the attention! Apparently you could go in and take your picture in the upside house (for a fee).


The library shares the building with some other council services and shop units so the library is mainly on the first floor. Inside it is a large building with a lovely feeling of space even though it was full of books and people. The walls and carpet are very blue, the bookcases are wooden and on wheels.

There were pockets of study spaces and readers at the desks along the walls by the windows.

There was a vast music section with a dedicated music enquiry desk. There was a quiet zone, meeting suite, sitting area and local and family history sections. Interestingly there was a wall of trees – which I presume were fake – and must be there to softly divide up an area.

There were cases dotted around displaying collections, such as this crockery one, and a small D-Day exhibition.

Generally a very nice atmosphere and welcoming library.

Exeter Library


The outside approach to Exeter Library, one of Devon’s largest libraries, is lovely. It is a 1960s buildings that was refurbished between 2013 and 2014 at a cost of £4 million. Now you enter into a welcoming cafe area. The colour scheme is quite grey, white and turquoise.

The library building was on three floors but most of the library activity was on the ground floor.  There were lots of staff around.

There was an interesting listening booth in the left photo that my daughters tried out. Lovely view from the seating area on the right.

Bustling children’s library. They run FabLab Maker Spaces, Bounce and Rhymes and story clubs,  they have code clubs, raspberry jams, and computer clubs and gadget days for people who need help with their devices.

There were little exhibition cabinets dotted around. I loved the old dummy waiter style book lift still on display – no idea if it still in use. There was also a Business and Information Skills and IP Centre.

The opening hours are good, open until 6pm or 7pm on weekdays and even open four hours on a Sunday.