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Dutch find new ideas on reading in East End

PUBLISHED: 19:29 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:36 05 October 2010

THE Dutch have been snooping around London's East End to get ideas about its Ideas' stores. They are looking for ways to revive their own public library service in Holland and have turned to the London Borough Tower Hamlets to see how its rebranded libraries—now called Ideas' stores—really tick

THE Dutch have been snooping around London’s East End to get ideas about its Ideas’ stores.

They are looking for ways to revive their own public library service in Holland and have turned to the London Borough Tower Hamlets to see how its rebranded libraries—now called Ideas’ stores—really tick.

A report by the Netherlands Institute of Social Research points to Tower Hamlets as “a source of inspiration,” highlighting the local authority’s ability to buck the trend of London’s falling library book borrowers.

The report concludes: “The UK has for many years been confronted with a marked drop in library use and now presents a stark view of what can happen as a result of long-term spending cuts.

“On the other hand, it offers a striking example of renewal in the form of the Idea Stores, which connect the library to its environment in new buildings.”

Town Hall bosses are claiming the Idea’ stores are the hub’ of the community which have also revolutionised the book lending service, with book borrowings having tripled since the first one opened in Bow’s busy Roman Road market in 2002.

“We’ve had delegations from around the world visit our Idea stores,” boasted a Town Hall spokeswoman. “Idea stores have been a real success story.”

The centres are marketed as a package’ bringing libraries, learning and social activities under one roof, with book-lending, classrooms, dance studios, crèches, complementary therapy suites and cafés.

They are similar in all but name to London’s original Willesden Library centre opened in the 1980s on the other side of town which also boasts a cinema.

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