Hendon Library


Hendon Library is one of 14 libraries in the London Borough of Barnet. None of their libraries are designated as a central library but as the local studies library is in the same building I picked Hendon to be the representative of the borough. Despite a campaign in 2015, the Barnet library service has suffered cuts in the recession. Since 2017 all of Barnet’s libraries either have days when they are completely closed or have days when they are not staffed but are available for self-service. For example, Hendon Library isn’t staffed at all on Mondays but is open to residents from 8am to 8pm.

hendon library times

Library users have to scan their library card and enter their library service PIN number to enter the building.

Hendon Library itself was a bit uninspiring. The large, detached, proud-looking building is nice but on entry it becomes apparent that the whole top floor has been given over to Middlesex University (which is next door) so the public library only has the ground floor. There are two separate doors: one for the public library and one for Middlesex University’s Learning Support Zone.

However, presumably the deal with the University is keeping this branch library open so I’ll stop complaining.

Once you enter through the public library door there is an enquiry point in the middle and then book stock and reading areas on the left and right. There is a glass study room and a very small children’s area.

There were details on the wall about making appointments with the local studies service which is accessible at the back of the building.

Most interestingly, I saw a picture on the wall of Eileen Colwell with the caption that she was a librarian at the library for over 40 years and a founder of children’s librarianship.


Her obituary in the the Telegraph is most enlightening and begins with:

In the 1920s, when Eileen Colwell first became a librarian, there were no children’s sections in libraries, and the presence of children, especially young children, was discouraged. She considered it of vital importance that children should have access to books from an early age, and that their first introduction to literature should be a pleasant one.

I have purchased her autobiography and added it to my “to-be-read” pile. I’m sure most people reading this have such a pile at home!

The Hive

I have been really looking forward to seeing Worcestershire’s Central Library for some time. The Hive is the first (and only?) collaboration between a public central library and an academic library in the UK. It makes for a huge library on 5 floors which is bustling with activity.

This is probably the only library I will come across in England with a Roman oven in the foyer! I like the way each floor is characterised on the sign, e.g. Floor 2 Explore the past.

This is also the first time I’ve seen an automated sorting returns point. You put the books in the slot, there are checked-in by RFID and then they go along conveyor belts to drop into the correct trolley for the floor/section of the library. Fab!

Worcester (4)

The library is packed full of book stock, colourful comfortable seating, study desks, study lamps, computers. It has quite high wooden ceilings and felt quite church-like.

It has an extensive children’s and teens library which is the length of level 1. There is a café and shop, toilets and lift and everything you’d expect from a modern building. Its opening hours are impressive at 8am-10:30 EVERY day!

If you’ve got time there’s a good 12 minute video explaining the thinking behind creating the Hive and its first 6 months after opening. It is on The Hive’s website About page  where there’s more information about the building and the vision behind it.

Long live The Hive!