Stoke Newington Library’s refurbishment gets £500k funding boost

Stoke Newington Library’s soon-to-be-upgraded interior. Photograph: Hackney Council

Stoke Newington Library has just closed for a two-year refurbishment, but a newly announced £500k government grant should see it reopen in style.

The cash will go towards a redesign of the library’s interiors, with the council hoping to kit it out with the “best facilities possible”.

Those include improved reading rooms, study spaces, a new children’s area, and a cultural and digital hub.

The community library service will also get its own integrated space.

Petra Roberts, the council’s assistant director for libraries, said: We are delighted to receive this investment which will help us realise our vision for Stoke Newington Library and make a huge contribution to the lives of local people.

“Libraries play an increasingly important role in our communities and have become much more than just places where people can borrow books.

“This investment in the building will help to ensure that the library is able to carry on serving its communities for years to come.

“We want our libraries to be innovative and inclusive places, offering the best facilities possible for our residents, and this funding will help us achieve that.

“Improved reading, study and children’s spaces, better visitor flow and flexibility as well as access to improved stock, cultural activities and technology will support all library users to have an enhanced experience of the library and its services.”

The Town Hall says the plans take into account the views of the 8,500 residents who contributed to its new libraries strategy.

The government funding comes from the Libraries Improvement Fund, which is designed to help public libraries across the UK upgrade their buildings and improve their digital offerings so they are better equipped for the modern age.

Stoke Newington is one of 43 libraries to receive a share of the £20.5 million fund.

The Victorian building closed its doors for two years on 30 March for a restoration project that will include roof repairs. Last year, the pavement outside the library had to be cordoned off after a piece of masonry fell from the building.

It comes at a difficult time for Hackney’s libraries, with a council restructure attracting intense criticism.

Earlier this year, one union boss vowed to “oppose any library closure” after a Town Hall document hinted at the prospect.

That followed a number of protests over cuts to the service.