Kentish Town Library

Kentish Town Library

Kentish Town Library 2560 1707 Karishma Puri

The availability of public spaces in London is increasingly dwindling. While on the high street various businesses have stepped in to provide social spaces, they come at a cost. For those seeking practical spaces that are free to access, the public library still serves an important function, particularly in Kentish Town, where the library is adapting to the current needs of the community. “It is a place where you can be sleeping on the street and you can come in and read a book sitting next to university professors,” Nick Durant of the Kentish Town Public Library tells us.

man standing in library

Nick also stressed the importance of the library as a common-neutral space for those of different backgrounds to interact, all be it quietly, “We used to have a library in the Regents Park area and there was quite significant racial tension between the old established white working-class community, and a more recently arrived Bengali community and the library was an important place as a common space in reducing those tensions, and it did in kind of subtle and small ways.”

“Nick also stressed the importance of the library as a common-neutral space, for those of different backgrounds to interact.”

Nick Durant, Camden council

While libraries have traditionally lent out books and media, the Kentish Town branch has incorporated ‘The Library of Things’, in partnership with a national social enterprise that helps locals save money and reduce waste, by renting out useful items like carpet cleaners, lawn mowers and drills. These practical tools not only provide a useful service but help neighbours share practical skills, by incorporating workshops on how to use the ‘things’, with the added benefit of bringing more foot traffic into the library. “This is expanding the concept of common ownership outside of strictly books and knowledge even but to like the very practical realities of daily life.“ Nick tells us. “It’s also developing a kind of community around the things”.

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