dalston clr james library 2012

The new Dalston C.L.R. James Library. Photograph: Dominic French

A new mega-library, which attracted a storm of protest over plans to drop a famous Caribbean writer from its name, is due to open on in Dalston on Monday 23 January.

At twice the size of the run down facility it replaces, the three storey Dalston C.L.R. James library will be one of the UK’s largest public lending libraries, boasting 26,000 books, 1600 CD’s and DVD’s, free wi-fi, and 57 computers for public use.

The £4.4m project hit the headlines last year when Hackney Council announced plans to ditch the late C.L.R. James, a popular Afro-Trinidadian historian and journalist, from its name. Diane Abbott MP described the move as “an insult” to the author’s memory – he opened the existing Dalston library which bears his name – and 2,500 people signed a petition which helped reverse the decision.

C L R James

Cyril Lionel Robert James, Afro-Trinidadian historian, journalist and social theorist

The new library should make life easier for borrowers. Each section is colour coded, and a ‘quick picks’ area lets readers in a hurry to pop in, select a best seller, and issue it to themselves electronically.

The library also has a children’s area, a teen zone, a study area, meeting rooms and a cafe.

Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Cllr Jonathan McShane said the library would have some of the longest opening hours in London.

He added: “We want this brand new library to be a community hub that all residents can make use of whether it’s for books, study space, the free use of computers or to hold community meetings and events.”


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