Hackney Community Library Service celebrates 70th birthday
70 years ago a librarian in Shoreditch came up with the idea to set up a library home delivery service to support those injured after the Second World War.
The East End had been devastated by WWII, and immediately after the war the librarian saw that those who were injured in the war or by bombings during the Blitz were unable to leave their homes, so they started to hand deliver books to them. It was so popular and well received the council agreed it should become a formal service, with its own delivery van.
Since then the service has developed into London’s largest home visit service, serving over 750 individuals and institutions across the borough.
The service was granted approval by the Council in June 1949, and ever since then has been serving the community via a home outreach service to those who are disabled or elderly, and providing a library service to local residential homes, housing schemes, lunch clubs, nurseries, Homerton Hospital and St Joseph's Hospice.
Over the past month the Community Library Service has been celebrating its birthday by delivering bespoke dementia jigsaw puzzles that depict ‘old’ Hackney, and talking through the history of the service with residents for a new short film that celebrates the community library’s work. Later this year, in October, the service will be hosting a conference to share their seven decades of learning with other authorities from across the UK to talk about this important service, the need to support an aging population, and to combat isolation and loneliness.
The Community Library does so much more than deliver books, providing access to a telephone reading group, as well as linking residents up with social services, befriending charities, and health services.
Chris Garnsworthy, service manager said: “Some of our service users can remember the puzzlement of the first flickering television pictures and have no understanding or access to today’s digital world. As well as bringing the books, music and films they love, we can help address the digital divide that separates them from the access to information and assistance the rest of us take for granted. The service has a history of bringing isolated people into a supportive community based around all that libraries offer. I am proud to manage a service with such an inspiring history and exciting future.”
One service user Kathleen, 94, said: “The books and talking books I receive at home are everything to me, and the service I get makes me feel just that little bit wanted. Without it I’d be finished.”Cllr Guy Nicholson said: “As a Council, Hackney always strives to make sure that everyone in our community is supported and they can rely on the Council's commitment to making sure that no one gets left behind. It is with pride that we can all congratulate the Community Library Service on its 70th birthday and celebrate its extraordinary commitment in making sure that for the last 70 years the Borough's Libraries have truly been there for everyone to use."
As a Council, Hackney always strives to make sure that everyone in our community is supported and they can rely on the Council's commitment to making sure that no one gets left behind. It is with pride that we can all congratulate the Community Library Service on its 70th birthday and celebrate its extraordinary commitment in making sure that for the last 70 years the Borough's Libraries have truly been there for everyone to use.
Find out more about the Community Library Service and how to join at www.hackney.gov.uk/community-library-service or by calling 020 8356 5238. Email email@example.com to find out more about the conference.