Libraries are a fantastic and cheap way to enjoy millions of different books, perfect for anyone who has overflowing bookshelves! Popping into your local library can also be a more sustainable way to read, meaning us bookworms can do our bit for the environment and get lost in another world at the same time! Here’s a list of some of the most notable libraries in South London.
16 Ramsden Rd, Balham, London SW12 8QY
Balham Library’s timetable is jam-packed full of activities to entertain both children and adults alike that have an affinity for reading. However, this library doesn’t just offer books on shelves. The library has recently hosted events for the Wandsworth Arts Fringe back in May, including ‘Writing for all our histories: An LGBT writing workshop’, where locals can get to grips with writing their own memoir.
265 Lavender Hill, London SW11 1JB
Built between 1889 and 1890, Battersea Library’s Victorian-style exterior makes a grand entrance on this list. It’s wooden interior continues this old-fashioned vibe that is perfect for any history buff. Notable events include the Tech and Tea workshop series which are relaxed and informal sessions to educate the locals about how technology can be used to bring the community together.
Beckenham Road, Beckenham Rd, Beckenham BR3 4PE
This library gives you no excuse not to join a book club. By running five different book clubs, with meetings held across the month, this library offers an admirable flexibly to its members. A recent activity they have launched is Knit & Natter, a group where locals can come to knit and chat! The atmosphere is overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming, becoming the perfect place to either try a new book or a new hobby!
Blue Anchor Library
Market Pl, Bermondsey, London SE16 3UQ
Blue Anchor is a hot spot to spread the love and get your kids reading too! The library hosts a children’s book club named ChatterBooks for ages 7-11, where children can safely share their views on their favourite books and most beloved characters. Its spacious and inviting interior makes this library a perfect spot for the entire family to dig into a good book.
The Blue Bermondsey
Old Dover Rd, Blackheath, London SE3 7BT
Blackheath is a colourful addition to our list, decorated with bright colours and pale wood to achieve a modern look. With several group tables scattered around the library floor, it advocates reading as a collaborative activity and allows bookworms to find like-minded people. The library is also one-level, making it completely accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Last month, the library hosted a Business Start Up Advice Service, where locals can receive valuable tips on how to run their small business.
John Harvard Library – Borough
211 Borough High St, London SE1 1JA
John Harvard Library’s modern look blends in seamlessly into its place along Borough High Street. This library caters to book lovers of all genres, with the Carousel book group, who read a new genre each month. They are also host to the classic literature book group for those who look to the likes of Brontë and Austen to satisfy their story cravings. There is also the Mouse Tail Coffee Stories café, where you can grab a hot drink whilst you cosy up with a good book.
Mouse Tail Coffee Stories
Brixton Oval, Brixton, London SW2 1JQ
Brixton is one of the most exciting and eccentric libraries, having celebrated the recent Pride Month with a Drag Queen Story Time! This library successfully puts a unique spin on reading that sets it apart. Brixton Library has also been host to the sell-out Lambeth Readers and Writers Festival, an event that is sure to be a hit for readers eager to actively get involved with their bookish community.
Crofton Park Community Library
375 Brockley Rd, Brockley, London SE4 2AG
Ran completely by volunteers, this library creates a warming atmosphere. Coupled with a café and a second-hand bookshop inside, it’s easy to spend hours in this book lover’s haven. If you’d like to dive into this library’s past, you can attend the Crofton Park History Drop-In, where you can find out what Crofton Park looked like 100 years ago and even who lived in your house back then!
High St, Bromley BR1 1EX
The Central Library is the largest library in this borough, making it essential to this list and for any Bromley locals. They also offer a unique reading group for the visually impaired, held on the third Tuesday of the month, proving the variety of ways people can enjoy reading. Their facebook page (@BromleyLibraries) is a fantastic and useful way to discover the different events held by all the libraries in Bromley borough, serving as a central hub for the community. Best-selling author Hanif Kureshi also frequently visited this library in his childhood, so it might be worth checking out what all the fuss is about!
48 Camberwell Green, Camberwell, London SE5 7AL
This library offers a Feel Better with a Book group, where no reading in advance is required and instead you can listen to stories and poems being read aloud, offering a relaxed vibe. To complete this zen atmosphere, the library hosts a free meditation and yoga session every Friday at 6:30pm to let the week’s stresses float away. Camberwell recently held a Travel Writers Workshop in May, where local writers could help update A Travel Guide to Camberwell, a take on Camberwell written by its own community.
Laurence House, 1 Catford Rd, Catford, London SE6 4RU
Catford is a library that cares about its people. By holding a free Stop Smoking Clinic, it focuses on the welfare of its visitors, making it a library that offers more than fantastic reading options. With a fresh and modern look, Catford proves another inviting library to help you add to your summer reading list.
Charlton House Library
Charlton House, Charlton Road, Charlton SE7 8RE
Charlton House is a picturesque library, having been impressively built in the 1600’s and still standing today! The library is located in the chapel, where guests can be transported back in time to the Jacobean era. With the Charlton Park a stone’s throw away, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the heatwave with an exciting read.
Charlton House & Gardens
Mary Seacole Centre, 91 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7DB
Clapham’s impressive spiraling staircases will entice locals to explore the shelves of this modern library. Upcoming activities include a series of workshops held across July titled The Meeting: Reading and Writing through John Clare, hosted by nature poet Karen McCarthy Woolf. Events like these turn the library into a hub of creativity.
Colliers Wood Library
105-109 High Street Colliers Wood, Colliers Wood, London SW19 2HR
Having been completely refurbished only just over a year ago, Colliers Wood library is an admirable addition, offering dementia-friendly access around the building. It caters to a range of interests and ages, from Saturday Scribblers: drawing club for children to Silver Surfers/Beginners IT. This library is a burst of colour on this list!
Croydon Central Library
Katharine St, Croydon CR9 1ET
Croydon Central offers a range of reading groups with two for fiction addicts on the second Saturday and Monday of the month, as well as a Rainbow Reading group for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people. This library definitely wants to focus on inclusivity in their bookish activities, even adding a non-fiction reading group. The diversity of these groups means locals can experiment with different reading genres and even discover a new favourite!
Upper Norwood Library Hub
Westow Hill, Upper Norwood, London SE19 1TJ
As well as offering a range of exciting books, UNLB are also hosts to a ‘library of things’ which opened in May 2018. This innovative way to attract locals to the library offers an array of items that South London families may not have the storage to own. From ice cream makers to carpet cleaners, UNLB allows bookworms to branch out and easily experiment with different hobbies.
Upper Norwood Library Hub
The Library at Deptford Lounge
9 Giffin St, Deptford, London SE8 4RH
Many South London libraries are finding innovative ways to bring people into their local book hubs and one way the library at Deptford Lounge is achieving this is hosting film showings every Friday and Tai Chi on Wednesday mornings. The library’s modern red and black colour scheme creates a warm atmosphere where any bookworm would enjoy curling up with a good story.
368 Lordship Ln, Dulwich, London SE22 8NB
Dulwich is a great library to get your little ones loving books as much as you do! The library was built back in 1897 in memorial of Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich College and a prominent Elizabethan actor. Now, Dulwich offers a book club for every age and interest, with a ChatterBooks group for ages 7-11 and even an anime, manga and comic book club for ages 10-16. With a stock of 10,152 books, there really is something for everyone in this stately library.
276 Magdalen Rd, Earlsfield, London SW18 3NY
Do you have a teen that would rather spend the summer cooped up in their room? Well, Earlsfield Library has a fantastic solution with their Teen Book Group held on the last Friday of each month. Its Greek-style columns creates the perfect excuse to snap a picture of this beautiful library when you visit.
Archery Rd, Eltham, London SE9 1HA
Eltham Library offers much more than just books. It is attached to a leisure centre with 3 swimming pools, sauna, steam rooms and a fitness centre with a group exercise studio. This spacious building offers an airy atmosphere to take a deep breath and escape from the working week.
Forest Hill Library
Dartmouth Rd, Forest Hill, London SE23 3HZ
Forest Hill is always looking for new volunteers to help out at this community-run library. Eager on naming their members ‘friends’, this library strives for a genuine connection with its users. One of the ways this connection is achieved is through the Friends of Forest Hill Library group, set up so local voices can be heard when making any changes to the library. This August, as part of the Summer Reading Challenge 2019, your children can experience a free workshop with local author Christian Darkin on 1st. Darkin will be providing a fantastic set of activities, including how to make a space-station out of recycled rubbish!
Forest Hill Library
West Greenwich Library
146 Greenwich High Rd, Greenwich, London SE10 8NN
Just minutes away from Greenwich Station, West Greenwich Library is a prime spot for Greenwich and any South London bookworms. Not only does this library offer an extensive selection of books, but it also has its own art gallery, displaying the work of local artists! It’s royal blue colour scheme inside perfectly calms the mind in this serene library.
West Greenwich Library
7-9 Moorside Rd, Bromley BR1 5EP
Downham’s quaint library is located next to Downham Health and Leisure Centre, meaning you can go for a swim then enjoy a good book all in one afternoon! Visit to enjoy weekly film showings and an informative origami club. With plenty to do here, it’s easy to keep your nose buried in a book and much more.
188 Herne Hill Rd, Herne Hill, London SE24 0AG
Herne Hill’s fresh and welcoming library is one you must visit. With many libraries in South London facing funding cuts, libraries like this one reminds us of the importance of these buildings, as it only recently reopened last year followed a protest and occupation. This protest was supported by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Stella Duffy, leading to a successful reopening in October 2018. Stories like this remind us of how much we can impact our local community.
167 Kennington Ln, London SE11 4HF
This Victorian-style library is a Kennington gem and a perfect escape to transport you to the past. The library is named after Jemima Durning, who gave an endowment of 5,000 guineas to the library back in 1888. This subsequently led to the library being built to what it is today.
Tate South Lambeth Library
180 South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1QP
Many have praised the incredibly helpful staff at this stunning library. By having a very active social media presence, this library is keen to involve its locals in the exciting events and activities it hosts. The library was donated by Sir Henry Tate, as a gift to the people of Vauxhall and you can still visit his art collection there today!
Tate South Lambeth Library
Manor House Library
34 Old Rd, London SE13 5SY
Visiting this community-run library is a great way to support the volunteers that keep this bookhaven standing. At Manor House Library, you will have another opportunity to encourage your children to get involved with reading this summer, hosting after-school book swaps and storytimes. The library also takes part in the Manor House Garden Fest, an annual summer festival and family fun fair!
Manor House Library
Lewisham Micro Library
I think it’s safe to say this is the smallest library on our list. Where it lacks in size, however, it is mighty and incredibly charming. With the number of functional phone boxes dwindling in London, Lewisham has creatively turned one of theirs into a library. This has to be one of the most unique libraries in South London and is definitely a must-visit!
Lewisham Micro Library
Lewisham High St, Lewisham, London SE13 6LG
If you prefer a bit more wiggle room, you can visit Lewisham Library on Lewisham High Street. Praised for its friendly atmosphere, this library offers a fantastic range of unique activities, including dyslexia tutoring and health talks, covering topics from mental health to caring for Afro hair.
Morden Library Within Merton Civic Centre
Merton Civic Centre, London Rd, Morden SM4 5DX
Regulars have commended this library on its rare collection of history books and its impressive size. Its spacious aisles are perfect for getting lost in or discovering your next favourite read. Activities held here include Simple Yoga, a reading group and Lego club for your younger ones.
New Cross Learning Library
283-285 New Cross Rd, New Cross, London SE14 6AS
Check out this library’s own blog at newxlearning.org and keep informed with what this reading hub has to offer. Many visitors have enjoyed the second-hand book sale this library holds. Entirely run by volunteers, many praise its effective management.
New Cross Learning
88-138 Gordon Rd, Camberwell, London SE15 3RB
Many have described this library as a great community hub. Activities held here include a knitting group and help with job hunting online. Along with Dulwich, Nunhead Library was built with money donated by philanthropist John Passmore Edwards. Since the 1890’s, Edwards funded to have 71 public buildings built, including libraries, but also buildings for health and art.
122 Peckham Hill St, Peckham, London SE15 5JR
Locals love the contemporary architecture in this library, as well as the friendly and helpful staff. The activities held here cater to both adults and children, including afternoon tea with short stories, a Wii gaming club and an adult reading group. Many have described this library as looking like an inverted ‘L’, can you see it?
Penge Library, 46 Green Ln, London SE20 7JX
Penge Library proves how these reading hubs can connect and help its local community, holding noteworthy activities such as Living Well Dementia, coffee mornings and day and evening reading groups.
5-7 Disraeli Rd, Putney, London SW15 2DR
Putney is another great place to take your little bookworm this summer, with activities like storytime and messy mornings, this library can be an opportunity to give South London parents a breather! One of the reading groups held is specifically for audiobooks, showing the different ways you can access the incredible stories this library has. The library was paid for by George Newnes, who was a founding father of popular journalism! You can find his surname inscribed on the balcony of the library.
Tate Streatham Library
Tate Library, 63 Streatham High Rd, Streatham, London SW16 1PN
After having a recent £1.4m refurbishment, this library is back in action with some exciting new additions. Some of these include more books stocked, more access to reading spaces and a redone reading garden just in time for summer. The library has also improved its inclusivity, introducing read-aloud and magnification technology to help dyslexic, blind or visually impared readers.
Sydenham Community Library
210 Sydenham Rd, London SE26 5SE
With a charming and cosy atmosphere, this library is another that must be supported by its local bookworms. Its big windows flood its aisles with light and, with always a fresh stock of books, locals are always encouraged to visit and grab a tasty hot drink at the cafe after borrowing a great book!
Sydenham Community Library
Thornton Heath Library
190 Brigstock Rd, Thornton Heath CR7 7JB
Thornton Heath bookworms love coming to this library for a quiet moment with a good read. By having a special kids area, South London parents will love this great solution to summer holiday boredom. Activities on offer include film screenings, homework club and work club, where you can get some CV and job search advice.
75 Mitcham Rd, Tooting, London SW17 9PD
Tooting has a fantastic collection of books with some on local history that history buffs will love. This library is a great support hub for both adults and their children, hosting reading groups for all ages and storytime to ignite the imagination of your little ones.
The National Poetry Library
Level 5, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX
Located in the lively Southbank Centre, the National Poetry Library is beloved by South London bookworms, calling it the best place to find entertaining books and inspiring poetry. It’s definitely worth checking out their smartly-designed website to keep updated with the exciting events held here, including Outspoken, a spoken word event on 22nd July.
National Poetry Library
East Street Library
168 - 170 Old Kent Road, London, SE1 5TY
Run by kind and helpful staff, East Street is great for all the library essentials, from simply borrowing a book to improving your language skills. The library is particularly proud of its Spanish language collection, showing off fiction and non-fiction from an array of Latin American authors, Latin American cinema on DVDs and language courses for Spanish speaking Londoners wanting to brush up on their English.
Wandsworth Town Library
11 Garratt Ln, London SW18 4AQ
Visiting this library is a fantastic way to stay connected with your community. Located right off the edge of Wandsworth High Street, it’s in such a convenient location that you can’t miss it! Activities include a knit and natter group and a reading group for over sixties. Events include an evening with best selling author Elizabeth Macneal on 17th July. Come along and celebrate her debut novel The Doll Factory!
West Norwood Library & Picture House
1-5 Norwood High St, West Norwood, London SE27 9JX
Relaxing is a word frequently used to describe this library located just off West Norwood High Street. Holding more than 35,000 books, South London readers will definitely be spoilt for choice! It also has a picture house, showing the latest films, making it a perfect location to spend a summer afternoon.
West Norwood Library & Picture House
35 Wimbledon Hill Rd, Wimbledon, London SW19 7NB
Wimbledon Library’s calendar is filled with fun activities to entertain its locals beyond books. Some of these events are yoga, a book club, poetry discussions, meditation and a wide selection of language classes. Libraries like this one prove it can be a safe space to find a new hobby or develop a new skill.
Woolwich Centre Library
35 Wellington St, Woolwich, London SE18 6HQ
This feel good library is last, but by no means least on our list. Situated in the heart of Woolwich, it offers fully stocked shelves to help you find an amazing range of reads. Some of the library’s activities include a teen reading group and coffee mornings.
It’s important to note that most of these libraries are taking part in the summer reading challenge for your children to take part in during the summer holidays. But don’t let that stop you from challenging yourself to see how many books you can complete this summer!
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