On The Move

Library prepares to leave its old home

Information

Tuesday September 1: New library opens to customers

Monday September 14: New library is officially opened by borough Mayor

Saturday September 19: Family fun day from 11am to 4pm. This will include stilt-walkers, Punch and Judy, local authors and poets.

The family fun day will be followed by a week of activities for people of all ages.

John Passmore Edwards

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Shepherd's Bush Library on Uxbridge Road has officially closed ahead of the move to its new home in Wood Lane.

Library staff say the Uxbridge Road building will still be open to allow people to return books over the next couple of weeks, but few other services will be available until the new library opens at the beginning of September.

By Friday (August 14), most of the shelves had been emptied, the computers had gone from the children's area, and in one corner, library stock could be seen packed into piles of crates, ready for the move.

The Uxbridge Road building is one of 24 libraries in London funded by the Victorian philanthropist John Passmore Edwards, who is described as being a 'lifelong champion of the working class'.

Dean Evans is an expert on Passmore Edwards, whose name is carved into the stone above the library's main entrance. “The foundation stone for the Shepherd's Bush Library was laid by Edwards on 4 July 1895," says Evans. "He said that what London needed was fewer public houses and more libraries. Let us at least hope that Hammersmith & Fulham Council do not think to sell off the building for that use. The library was opened by Lord Rosebury on 24 June 1896.”

Evans says many of the Passmore Edwards buildings, including many public libraries, have ceased to be used for their original purpose in recent years. In nearby Acton, for example, residents are currently being consulted on plans to sell off their Passmore Edwards library for retail uses. “I am saddened by the closure of these libraries," said Evans.

"But these buildings have given over a hundred years of service to the community as libraries, so what is now important is that they are reused, and ideally as community buildings. I do accept that this is easier said than done. Many of the issues for which Passmore Edwards campaigned during his life, inequality, education, health and an end to hostilities amongst nations, are as relevant today as they were throughout his life. If the name Passmore Edwards above the door of a community building reminds us of this from time to time, then that is sufficient to warrant their preservation.”

Hammersmith and Fulham Council have not yet said what will happen to the old building.

Around the corner in Wood Lane, the new glass-fronted Shepherd's Bush Library, which has just been built, will open its doors to customers for the first time on Tuesday September 1. The building will then be officially opened by the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Alex Karmel, on Monday September 14.

Inside the two-floor building, the shelves are still empty but signs already show where the different book-categories will go.

When the move is complete the library will house over 10,000 brand new fiction and non fiction books, over 1000 new DVDs, 600 CDs and 25 computers for public use. The new library will also feature more study space with WiFi connection and more public access PCs, floorwalking staff to help customers find what they need, a new teenage area with computer games, music mixing software and a “chill-out” space, self service for borrowing and returning books, dedicated spaces for quiet reading and for children's activities, and meeting and exhibition spaces.

The Council say work is also underway to equip the ‘Work Zone' area which brings together Ealing Hammersmith & West London College, Job Centre Plus and the Council to provide a dedicated facility for retailers and employers to fill their jobs locally.

Cllr Paul Bristow, cabinet member for residents’ services, said: “Not only is this one of the most pioneering libraries in the country but residents will also be thrilled to know that it has been delivered at no cost to local taxpayers. The library and Work Zone have been built and fitted out by Westfield Ltd at a cost of over £2million, as part of the detailed negotiations for community benefits when planning consent for the shopping centre was granted. This building will be the jewel in the crown for libraries in London and we can’t wait until we open the doors for the first time.”

Yasmine Estaphanos

August 15, 2009

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