London Borough of Southwark is developing a number of their libraries in order to make them more community focused, to integrate new technology and to provide an improved environment.

The John Harvard Library, including the Southwark Local History Library, is a long established local facility, one of the most popular in Southwark, which was in great need of updating.  A grant from the Big Lottery Fund enabled the provision of entirely new facilities with an increased footprint to allow more accommodation.  The new library integrates a small café and RFID self-service technology, together with popular book areas to create a more informal and relaxed place that will attract many more local workers, schools and residents.

One member of staff commented-

“The public reaction to the library has been phenomenal – I’ve seen people wandering around the library smiling and saying out loud to themselves ‘This is fantastic’ …and people on the phone to their friends telling them that they have to get down there to see how brilliant it is.”  


Margaret Hodge, Culture Minister, John Harvard Library opening launch, December 2009

“A stunning exemplar of the sort of practice we would like to see mirrored right across the country of a very welcoming environment, fantastic layout, good facilities for children and great facilities for people to learn.”