Canada Water Library

Canada water 1

I have been looking forward to visiting this library, as I had seen pictures of it in other publications, looking new and interesting, with a pool of shimmering water beside of it.

As I have a tendency to do – I walked out of the tube station and charged off round the water only to realise the stairs to the underground were next to the library’s entrance  and I was walking the wrong way.

Once I had turned around and gone back I entered through the café which was brimming with people on this cold Monday lunchtime. Adjacent to the café is the ground floor area with an enquiry point, some self-service terminals, some “Quick Choice” books and a security guard.

I immediately saw the central wooden curved stairwell that looked very warm and inviting so up I went. The next level up had a really colourful block carpet which brought the place to life. There was plenty of book-stock, windows, staff, computers and readers.

The next floor up was a mezzanine of study positions around the stairwell/atrium. Most seats were occupied including some by older kids in school uniform. There were chairs with the built-in note-taking arm which were positioned in the windows. There were plenty of meeting rooms on the sides of the library, of various sizes. Several were in use and they must be a really handy facility for the community.

The library’s opening hours are good – opening until 8pm every weekday and opening on Saturdays and Sundays. The theatre is in the same building too.

The whole library was bathed in light but also full of nooks and crannies for people to settle in and study. The children’s library had several children in it, so I couldn’t take pictures, but I was able to take a picture of their boat.

Canada water 2

Southwark Libraries don’t designate a central library and Canada Water may not be their largest, but it was well worth the visit! Here’s an interesting article in the Guardian from when it opened in 2011.

Mansfield Central Library


Mansfield Central Library is based in the corner of a shopping centre. There is a lobby downstairs with a desk and some self-issue machines, stairs and lifts. I wasn’t positive the Library was open as there wasn’t any activity in the foyer. Once upstairs I found a really modern library.



I loved the curvy bookcase set up that can be seen from the mezzanine. It helps section off the children’s area and local studies area. There were, what looked like, two grannies having a picnic with their grandchild on a table in the children’s area.


The mezzanine above was great but empty of readers. There was another floor above that which was gated off but looks like it is probably used for events.

The need for two security guards wandering around was worrying.





Derby Central Library


Derby Central Library was built in 1879 but has come under threat recently (Guardian, 27 July 2016)

The library shares the building with a museum and art gallery but they were closed on the Monday I was visiting. However within the library there is a gallery if you look up of old shop-like items.


The library was very busy, loads of stock, security guard, teenage section. All the computers seemed to be in use but I think there may have been a job club running.

It reminded me of Islington because whereas there I noted that the ornate plaster work and cornicing was all painted turquoise, in Derby it’s all painted a deep red.

Nottingham Central Library

The Central Library is nestled in amongst the shop fronts and is the Central Library and Contact Centre. The ground floor has some fiction and the children’s area but there are three more levels above. It is a bit of a rabbit warren with two sets of stairs.

Nottingham (1)

A very impressive music section. Staff and help points on every floor. The children’s area doesn’t feel large enough for the city’s population. There’s a local studies area and an exhibition area which is a large square room. The exhibition area felt a bit empty at the time but had displays about the First World War round the walls.

Even though it’s a Monday morning on a warm day the desks were packed with readers.

Rudimentary study booths had been created by sticking display boards between the one- person desks that were by the window but they were very popular.

Security guard, lift, self-issue. The signs outside were green but inside there are blue wooden bookcases with red signs.

Would benefit from some investment.

Islington Central Library

I have one word – turquoise.

Islington Central Library should have been a short walk from the tube but I went the wrong way – twice. When I found it I entered from a modern entrance on the side street but it is actually quite an old building (built in 1906) on Holloway Road.

The end of the bookcases were covered in fabric, possibly to make them also function as noticeboard. The fabric was turquoise. The library is on three floors: lending library on the ground floor, children’s library on the second floor and reference on the third floor.

An area of the ground floor has a full height ceiling which is ornate but at some point the detailing has been painted – turquoise! And again on the third floor.

There were plenty of people in the library, studying, looking through the books and on the computers on the ground floor and in the reference library. There was a security guard sitting in the reference library watching over the computer users.

These types of signs look decidedly old fashioned now:

The children’s library on the 1st floor looked really good but it had automatic doors so I didn’t feel I could go in as I didn’t have any kids with me. It had a more modern colour scheme so I can only assume that it has been refurbished recently.