The Library Lab

As libraries up and down the country struggle to hold onto funding and find ways to sustain themselves, one library in Brent is boosting local entrepreneurship through a new programme of events and a pop-up co-working space.

Library Lab is part of the New Windows on Willesden Green project, set up with funds from the mayor’s Outer London fund. It began with a window transformation scheme, in which designers were invited to refresh shop windows in the lead-up to Christmas.

As part of the scheme, organisations were invited to bid to work at the Willesden Green Library Centre, whose cinema and café areas had been closed for years and the centre in general underutilized by the local community.

Architecture 00 won the contract and, after giving the space a spruce-up on a shoestring sourcing all its design materials from the local high street, it decided to find ways to ensure the venue was well-used in the future.

After an open day inviting people to share ideas for how to use the space, the centre’s dormant spaces were reopened as a pop-up co-working area with a workshops programme aimed at accelerating local entrepreneurship.

Now there are five to seven events each week (two thirds of which are organized by the local community), ranging from free workshops on accounting, building your own website, creating business plans and using social media to free coaching drop-in sessions for local migrants with ideas for new enterprises.

Tenants in the co-working space include the Circle UK, which helps women turned their creative skills into income, and Codoc, a local documentary film production company, and local would-be entrepreneurs can use the space to study or work and meet like-minded locals.

Events in the café area include social events such as story-telling, language exchange and self-defence training and a pop-up crèche will launch in May to help parents with young children take advantage of the workshops and co-working facilities.

Tim Ahrensbach, project manager of the Library Lab, said that the Library Lab has helped generate a greater sense of local pride and helped build local networks. ‘There’s lots happening in the community but the networks weren’t materialising. The Library Lab is becoming a platform for making those networks happen.’

Brent Council said it feels this project provides an excellent evidence base to reimagine an inventive offer for the local high street and its facilities.

The Library Lab project continues until the end of June 2012 and is open from 10 am – 6pm from Monday to Friday.

For more details contact:


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top