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New chapter for Leyton Library

At a time when many libraries are under threat, it is refreshing to find Waltham Forest Council embarking upon a series of investments that will see libraries fit for the 21st century – starting in Leyton.

Last August the Council announced a transformation in its library service with significant improvement works scheduled over the next two years to all of its main libraries. Leyton library was earmarked to be the first to be refurbished as part of the new ‘Library Plus’ initiative that will also see extensive makeovers taking place at Leytonstone, Walthamstow and Chingford libraries.

Councillor Ahsan Khan, Cabinet Member for Health and Well Being, said, “We know that our libraries need to develop and offer so much more than they used to. By equipping them with the facilities to offer a range of services over and above what one might expect from a traditional library we can meet a range of needs and keep libraries relevant and vital to the local community.”

The changes to Leyton library include a modern IT suite with fast and reliable Wi-Fi and internet throughout the building, and brand new PCs on the ground floor. There will also be a larger children’s library that includes a new activity space and storytelling area, and a dedicated library for teenagers with new books, a study space and computers.

“It’s important we build on the success of the services our residents most value about our libraries, which is why we are investing in what we know people come to the library for most of all,” said Cllr Khan.

“However, as well as these state-of-the-art facilities, we’re also looking to offer a host of services not normally associated with libraries. When it opens on Wednesday 26 February, council staff will be on-hand to assist residents.”

Residents will be able to apply for benefits, register births, pay council tax and even report missed bin collections. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau will be on hand from 9am to 5pm Mondays to Fridays to provide advice and practical support on a range of other issues, including legal and financial problems.

“We’re also working in partnership with the University of East London and Birkbeck, University of London to provide careers and education support and guidance at Leyton library each fortnight,” said Cllr Khan.

“We’ll also have our own employment team available every week to support residents with access to training and education. It doesn’t matter what your age, experience or background is – we’re here to help you back into work.”

There will also be regular Healthwatch sessions and staff from the local children’s centre will be based in Leyton library one morning per week, to provide drop-in sessions with parents and families. These sessions will include family assessments, advice and practical support, and referral to other services.

The £1 million refurbishment of Leyton library is part of the Council’s ‘Creating a Better Place’ campaign, that helped deliver £160million worth of regeneration works across Waltham Forest in 2013 and has secured over £700 million in the coming years up to 2018.

The designs for the £1.5 million refurbishment of Leytonstone library are now being developed. Initial proposals can be viewed on the Council’s website. Overall the Library Plus refurbishments across the four libraries will amount to £5 million.

For more information about Library Plus visit www.walthamforest.gov.uk/libraryplus phone 020 8496 3000 or email libraryplus@walthamforest.gov.uk You can also find out more about upcoming activities in the Waltham Forest Libraries ‘What’s On’ guide.

If you would like more information about any of these press releases or have a different media enquiry please contact us at media@walthamforest.gov.uk or on 020 8496 3000.