A new library has opened in Walthamstow in Waltham Forest. The library is a key part of the £3m investment in the area and ongoing investment in libraries in the former London Borough of Culture which BDS sponsored through arts events in libraries in 2019.
The old Wood Street Library, now due to be demolished with the site sold for further library investment in the borough, welcomed the National Gallery’s recent acquisition, Self Portrait of the Artist as St Catherine by Artemisia Gentileschi as part of the borough-wide library celebrations (see BDSLife for Libraries, Autumn 2019).
COVID restrictions and lockdowns have resulted in a stop start beginning for libraries but Wood Street remains open for digital access and customer services, and operates a click and collect and book delivery service.
BDSlife visited the library last October when it was operating under fewer restrictions and met with library assistant, Yvonne Cooper.
“It’s been incredibly busy,” said Yvonne. “I think at times like these, people need to know there is somewhere at the heart of their community where they can come to share their experience, bring the kids, find a book, have a cup of coffee. I think the new library has quickly become part of our life support system.”
Under normal circumstances the new library will be open double the hours of the previous library.
“I genuinely believe the new library is a lovely, warm, welcoming experience,” said Councillor Paul Douglas, cabinet member for culture. “It’s bigger… is open longer and seven days a week and has a café and outside seating space”.
“When I visited the old Wood Street Library to view the Gentileschi portrait as part of the E17 Art Trail that BDS sponsored in 2019, I also visited the building site for the new library which is now open,” says Lesley Whyte. “It is heart-warming to witness first-hand such investment in local, community libraries and BDS is proud to have been a sponsor in a small but effective manner of Waltham Forest and its vision for the future.”