The popular Streatham Tate library will re-open to the public this month after a £1.4m refurbishment and expansion, with BAFTA-winning English comedian Jo Brand on hand for the ribbon cutting.
The library was visited more than 200,000 times a year before its closure in August last year and will provide more space and facilities for Lambeth residents when it opens on March 26.
A new community hall has been opened to the rear of the library which can be hired for exhibitions, meetings, plays, clubs and classes and upstairs offices are now available for local businesses.
The Tudor Hall community and cultural space will be renamed in memory of Lambeth Mayor Cllr Mark Bennett, 44, who died suddenly in February.
Cllr Sally Prentice, Lambeth cabinet member for Culture and Leisure, said: “The library was incredibly popular before the refurb and will be even more so now.
“We have worked closely with the Friends of Streatham Library to make sure that this works as a superb new civic and community space in the heart of Streatham.
“It looks wonderful and will provide exceptional services for everybody in the borough – it’s a library we can be proud of and again demonstrates the council’s cooperative approach with residents.”
The main entrance to the library will now be on Pinfold Road through a new glazed foyer.
The library has more computers and books, fresh fittings and furnishings, self-service machines and a refurbished ‘reading garden’.
There is also state-of-the-art equipment to help visually impaired and blind people to read and use the internet.
Lambeth is the first borough in the country to use the equipment including software that reads webpages aloud, a device that photographs and reads hard copy texts and a magnifying mouse that makes it easier to read newspapers and books on a screen.
The library was originally funded by Sir Henry Tate in 1891 and a bust of Sir Henry will be displayed in the new display window facing Streatham High Street.
The refurbishment has taken just six months to complete and was funded by the Lambeth Council Cooperative Libraries Capital Investment programme and a £300,000 subsidy from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund.