Public gets first glimpse at new-look Redbridge Central Library

Redbridge residents got the first chance to see the results of a �1million refurbishment of Ilford’s Central Library yesterday afternoon when it re-opened to the public.

The library, now known as Redbridge Central Library, in Clements Road, Ilford, which has seen 15million visitors since opening in 1986, operated a skeleton lending service from January and was closed for lending from April.

Children and library members toured the results, including a digital wall projection called the Enchanted Forest, iPads, self-service machines and a coffee shop.

The library has the same opening hours and number of staff as prior to the refurbishment, but staff will take on new duties, according to Gareth Morley, head of libraries for Vision Redbridge, which runs leisure services.

He said: “The focus is much more about helping people to access information.”

Council leader Cllr Keith Prince said: “I’m knocked out. It’s opened the space and it’s easier to navigate. A lot of thought has gone into it.”

The children’s library has eight iPads for learning games, and the digital wall, the first use of such technology in a public library, according to Mr Morley.

Most Read

He said: “In the children’s library we’ve tried to create a really exciting space for children to use their imagination.”

He added that the majority of books have been replaced and the ground floor area has been opened up by removing the central foyer which acted as a partition.

Exhibits from Redbridge Museum, also housed on the site, have been placed among the shelves in relevant sections, so readers will find a Victorian-era police truncheon among the crime books and a mammoth bone among the earth science titles.

Library opening times in Redbridge were reduced by 32.5 hours per week in April as part of budget savings.

When asked if there would be further reductions, Cllr Robin Turbefield, cabinet member for leisure, said: “Not at this current time.”

He said the council has made savings in its annual library spend from �5m to �3.5m.