Day 21: Whitechapel Idea Store – What librarians create #30days30libraries

Whitechapel did not feel like it had quite woken up this morning.

There were walls of honey mangoes that needed to disassembled, a pile of durian fruit that must be unwrapped.

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Whitechapel Idea Store looms large on the busy high street. Inside, it reminds me of a quiet cave, only less dripping and darkness, with many more books.

There weren’t many people there yet.

There were children sitting, working, in the children’s library with their mother. I wondered if they were being home-schooled. One of the boys was looking for a book about pirates.

There were a few people reading in the adult library.

But mostly it felt as though I were seeing the space in a quiet moment, while it’s taking a breath, pausing between activities.

An employability and enterprise week is coming up at the Idea Store with many events such as CV writing workshops and talks on such things as ‘Making a Social Media Strategy’.

In the absence of people though, I take time to look around and as with so many of the libraries I’ve visited this month, see, without needing to look, the care and attention lavished upon the space by the librarians.

There are reviews that adorn the shelves.

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I ask for help finding a book and am swiftly, efficiently assisted.

Then, I come across an installation.

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As part of the Cityread London initiative (‘an annual celebration of literature that aims to bring reading to life for the whole capital’) Whitechapel Ideastore has created a rather neat installation around Gillian Slovo’s ‘Ten Days’.

I asked one of the librarians more about it and they passed me their colleague’s email address who was the one who created it.

It made me wonder, not for the first time, what librarians create to make our libraries what they are.

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