Idea Stores are more than just a library or a place of learning. As well as the traditional library service, they offer a wide range of adult education classes, along with career support, training, meeting areas, cafes and arts and leisure pursuits.
After consulting with local residents in the largest consultation exercise ever undertaken by Tower Hamlets Council it became clear that major investment was needed. The message from Tower Hamlets' households taking part in London's most comprehensive opinion survey about libraries was stark and simple: they wanted a high-quality, modern library service which provided a far greater range of services. Despite recognising the excellent effort of staff on behalf of residents, customers were dissatisfied with the quality, location and nature of the service they were getting.
The Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, launched the groundbreaking Idea Stores concept in April 1999. Tower Hamlets, unveiled its plans to invest £20 million in library and learning services at a time when the national trend was to decrease funding.
The idea became a reality in May 2002 when the first, prototype Idea Store opened at Bow. This was followed by Idea Store Chrisp Street in July 2004, Idea Store Whitechapel in September 2005 and Idea Store Canary Wharf in March 2006.
Idea Store Whitechapel