Idea Store Bow

Why Idea Store? The name reflects the fact that we are a blend of libraries and adult education. All Idea Stores are libraries – but they also contain classrooms, dance floors, computer suites, complementary therapy rooms and more because the borough’s extensive adult education programme takes place here. This isn’t the conventional co-location: this is a single service that delivers far more than the sum of its parts.


Idea Store Bow is one of the most successful Idea Stores in the Borough.  The Manager Barbara Stretch  tells us why she thinks this is.



Idea Stores came into being in 2002 as a result of an extensive consultation exercise in which Tower Hamlets residents were asked what they wanted from their public libraries. Bow was the first Idea Store and after 10 years has the feel of a place very much bedded into the local community.


idea store bow


Our aim is to deliver the highest quality Library Learning and Information service in a building as far removed from the old municipal style as is possible to get. Idea Stores have the highest footfall of all Inner London Libraries and we are very proud of our achievement. Having said that, we never let the service stand still and strive constantly to improve.




In this our second decade, the focus is to develop and strengthen our partnerships with the local community based around two main areas: healthy living and employability. We think we have a very important role to play in the delivery of both priorities but no initiatives get a purchase unless they are delivered in partnership with community organisations. The Geezers in particular have a long standing relationship with Bow and have added enormously to the life of the Idea Store.


Ted Lewis from the Geezers tells Barbara what part Idea Store Bow plays in his life.



We welcome any organisation with whom we can work effectively and receive requests daily for space in the café area because it is recognised that if you want to reach the local community, the Idea Store is the place to do it.




Above all we want the place to be welcoming to everyone. If all you want to do is come in, have a cup of coffee and read the newspaper, sit on one of the sofas and chat to a friend, browse the books or plug in your laptop, this is fine with us.

To find out about our current activities, opening times and whats happening in other Idea Stores in the Borough, visit our website.

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