Una Marson Library, on the site of the new Aylesbury redevelopment, has opened.
It replaces East Street Library, which was just 400m away on Old Kent Road and closed on November 11.
The official launch celebration is set for January 2024 and will feature performances from local poets and authors – but people can visit it from now.
Named after Una Marson, a treasured Southwark heroine hailed for her contributions to the literary world and as the first Black woman programme maker at the BBC, the library’s name was selected by the local community to honour Southwark’s rich cultural heritage.
The new library will provide traditional services such as book and DVD loans, newspapers and periodicals, public access PCs, printing and copying facilities, bookable meeting rooms, study spaces, free Wi-Fi and a self-service health kiosk.
In addition, a full programme of engaging events will offered throughout the year. The library also includes an innovation space, which provides the opportunity to trial new programmes and services.
Despite the national trends of public funding cuts and library closures, Southwark Council claimed it remains committed to investing in library services.
In July, Kingswood Library in Dulwich opened to the community, and earlier in the year, Peckham Library underwent a £2 million retrofit.
Leader of Southwark Council, Councillor Kieron Williams, said: “I’m delighted to announce the opening of the Una Marson Library – a significant milestone in the renewal of the Aylesbury area. It’s a fantastic space for our whole community and the sixth new library we have opened in Southwark since 2010.
“Like all of our libraries, there is of course a wonderful selection of books, but that’s just the beginning. Today we are also opening the doors to another haven for our community. A place to relax, learn, meet and be inspire, whether you are one or ninety-one. Una Marson was an inspiration to thousands, so it is absolutely fitting that this inspirational space is named after her.”
Una Marson, a Jamaican-born feminist arrived in the UK in 1932 where she was helped by Dr Harold Moody, another of Southwark’s great Black activists, who offered her a room at his family home on the Queen’s Road in Peckham.
It was during the Second World War that Una became the BBC’s first Black programme maker. She broadcasted messages from servicemen and women in England, to their friends and families in the Caribbean, in her popular weekly series: Calling the West Indies.
In 2009 a Blue Plaque was unveiled at her former home on Brunswick Square in Camberwell.
The Una Marson Library opening times:
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – 10am to 6pm
- Wednesday – 10am to 3pm
- Saturday – 10am to 5pm
- Sunday CLOSED