Report by Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter
Waltham Forest Council’s new Wood Street Library has opened its doors to the public.
Originally supposed to open late last year, the new building in Troubridge Square on the Marlowe Road Estate is open seven days a week, for double the hours of the previous library building.
The former Wood Street Library site will be sold for redevelopment to fund both the new library and part of the extension of Lea Bridge Library. Many residents have mourned the loss of the original building, which dates from the 1950s and is set to be demolished.
A public consultation held when the decision to relocate was first made, which received more than 1,000 responses, found 69% of local people disagreed with the move.
Paul Douglas, cabinet member for culture, cut the ribbon at the new site. He said: “Buildings are important but it’s about what goes on inside and we could not provide the service we want to provide in the old building.
“I genuinely believe the new library is a lovely, warm, welcoming experience and the old building was not.”
The council maintains that it would have been too expensive to refurbish or even maintain the former site due to a number of problems with the building.
The positives of the new library site, according to Cllr Douglas, are that “it’s bigger, has the same number of books, is open longer and seven days a week, and has a cafe and outside seating space”.
Unlike the previous building, the new library is fully accessible. The in-house cafe will be run by the council, with profits going back towards the library.
Cllr Douglas said community-led engagement boards had been “integral to the layout and design” of the new building and he was not aware of any requests that were not included.
Because of the coronavirus, books returned to the library will be quarantined for three days before returning to the shelves.
The new library is open 9am-7pm, Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on Saturdays, and 10am-4pm on Sundays.