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Thursday, 7 December 2017

How Might Colocation Evolve at Willesden Library?

Now that Willesden Library is fully occupied for the first time since it opened, it is worth thinking about how co-location might evolve there.  Colocation is often seen as a zero sum game with space being taken away from library services and given to other purposes purely as an exercise in cost cutting.  I am sure that there are such examples, but I think Willesden Library really does add value by being more than the sum of its parts.  In particular from a Library point of view, the other activities all draw in people who may then add to library usage.

Willesden Library Cafe, for instance, may simply start attracting customers off the High Road or the bus stop looking coffee and tea who then may end up becoming curious about the Library offer.  It also may make use of the library more in line with modern tastes.  There is some reason to believe that use of libraries is shifting more to a leisure based model where soft furnishings and a cup of coffee fit in more than sitting sitting at a desk doing homework.

Similarly, ExploreLearning may well market the Library to a new clientale who, since they are interested in learning, should be a natural fit with library services.

I am not sure how far this has been planned but the sheer variety of events and activities held in Brent libraries add to the diversity of uses and help the library to reach a broader range of people than had traditionally been the case.

Another area of possible development is the public realm around the library.  As its winter, it is probably too cold and dark and wet to do all that much with the spaces around the library at present, but I think they are well designed for outdoor activities.  During the construction process some people argued that there was tremendous demand for the use of outdoor space in Willesden Green, leading to an application for a town green.  The critics of the scheme appear to have largely disappeared

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