Youth employment hub on the cards for Islington's West Library

An artist's impression of the youth hub at West Library 

An artist's impression of the youth hub at West Library - Credit: Islington Council

A youth employment hub will be created in an Edwardian library for the next stage of the £1.5m We Are Cally project to create a “brighter future” for the area.

An empty first floor reading room at the Grade II-listed West Library in Thornhill Square, Barnsbury, will be transformed into a youth and employment hub, and a lift will be put in, as well as accessible toilets.

The library in Bridgeman Road receives 100,000 visits a year.

Ward councillor Sara Hyde said the community “cherish this library” and there were no objections to the plans.

She said it would “fundamentally improve the prospect of young people in our neighbourhood”.

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Cllr Hyde and her fellow ward councillors were at the planning meeting to support the scheme.

She added: “It is a small but perfectly formed library as it is. We want to see it full of books, not full of lift.”

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She explained that it would see the reading room return to its original purpose. It was once an area where people could read job adverts and a plaque in the foyer pays testament to that.

The employment hub would be another part of the We Are Cally transformation, which includes work at the Jean Stopes Community Centre at Carnoustie Drive on the Bemerton estate.

Islington Council’s planning committee approved the scheme after looking at three different options for the lift as they wanted to make sure the installation works causes as little harm as possible to the building.

It had deferred the decision in July to consider other ways of doing the work.

Planning officer Claire Sutton said the preferred option would see the loss of some panelling and changes to the ceiling and flooring on the ground floor.

She said it was impossible to put in a lift in without causing some “negative impact” on the historic building.

It also means the adult library and upper floor could stay open while the work is done.

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