Hackney schools have their say on the future of the borough’s Libraries

The winning entries from a borough-wide schools competition to reimagine and design Hackney Libraries for 2025 are now on display in libraries across the borough.

In October, Hackney schools were invited to create a poem or artwork to share their ideas on what Hackney’s Libraries could look like in the future. 

As part of Hackney Council’s wider Library services review, the aim of the competition was to offer local schools - their teachers and pupils -  an opportunity to have their say on how Hackney’s Libraries can be improved, and help inform Hackney’s Library services strategy for 2022.

Rushmore Primary School provided the highest number of entries and engagement to claim the prize of a £150 voucher to buy books and resources. There were also three individual prizes of £15.00 book tokens for the best work in each category, which went to Ibrahim from Seabright for best poster, Coco from Rushmore who submitted the winning drawing, and Iman from Rushmore for best poem.

Additionally five  entries  from Year 7 and Year 8 art and design students at Clapton Girls Academy of beautifully designed models of future libraries were submitted, and so the Council has decided to reward this ingenuity and creativity with a special Creativity Prize of a £150 voucher to the school for books and resources. Individual prizes of £15 book tokens also went to the best work in this category by students Kaishiya Simmsege, Adesewa Agunlejika and Ella May Smith.

Hackney Council has been leading a review into its Library services to consider how its Libraries can create greater impact for local residents. Over autumn a series of focus groups were organised to collect the views of different communities within Hackney. Hackney residents were also invited to complete a public survey to offer feedback and share their thoughts on the Library and what sort of services and facilities they would like to see in the future.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Hackney’s Deputy Mayor for Housing Supply, Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy

Our borough’s Libraries play an important role in our community. They are open and safe places that can provide an open door to learning and opportunity for all of Hackney’s residents. For some, visiting the local Library helps tackle loneliness and social isolation, for others they are meeting places to meet friends or for some it's a quiet place to go to to revise for exams or find a book to read or learn to read.

But not everyone uses their local Library and the recent borough-wide consultation was the opportunity to reflect on the state of our Libraries and think about what they could offer in the future in an increasingly digital and multi-channel world.

With the future in mind it has been fantastic to hear from so many schools across the borough about what they would like to see in their local Library in 2025. We received so many great ideas that it is inspiring everyone to think about how we can design Hackney’s Libraries so they become the places that we all want to go to and use.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Hackney’s Deputy Mayor for Housing Supply, Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy

It has been so inspiring to see so many of our students quite literally bring to life their visions for their dream libraries, with amazing 3D models and artwork. I have been blown away by their incredible creativity and imagination. Myself and the students are so excited to see how these ideas can be used both in the LRC at Clapton Girls’ and for the Libraries review at Hackney Council.

Annie Taylor, Librarian at Clapton Girls Academy, winners of the special Creativity Prize

We created the characters of Professor Bookblast and Sammy Shelvit to engage the children in the Libraries review and, of course, help generate excitement for the competition. We were so thrilled with the response from the children, who really enjoyed interacting with the characters to talk about what their dream library would look like. Overall, we delivered workshops to over 1000 children, and were so impressed with their imaginative poems, library posters and book shelf designs, all of which will hopefully help Hackney Council in their Libraries review.

Eleanor Clack, performer from Immediate Theatre, who delivered workshops to Hackney schools encouraging students to come up with creative ideas for Hackney’s Libraries in the future