Idea Stores

Idea Stores have re-invented the library, returning them to the heart of the community.

Libraries throughout the world are struggling to make themselves relevant to today’s society - where books and information can be accessed on the move and computer games are fast becoming the preferred pastime of children and young people.

Tower Hamlets in London was one of the first local authorities to take action, closing its libraries and replacing them with seven 'Idea Stores', community hubs that put a library, cafe, adult education classes and computer access under one roof.

Idea Stores have managed to return libraries to the heart of the community. Bucking national trends, Tower Hamlets revolutionary library service, which was developed in consultation with residents back in 2000, has seen visitor numbers nearly quadrupled and lending numbers break records.

After a massive borough-wide consultation, residents in their thousands told the council that they wanted bright new buildings in local shopping areas combining lifelong learning and cultural attractions with all the services normally associated with libraries. Coupled with retail principles this £30 million investment to create the first five Idea Stores has paid off.

Groundbreaking Idea Stores are inspiring the future development of libraries across the world. The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and most recently the United States, South Korea, and Germany have all looked to Tower Hamlets’ retail-inspired model as an example of the best way forward. And the good news is continuing – the latest addition to the Idea Store family, Idea Store Watney Market, will open in Spring 2013.