What, no Starbucks coffee yet? Another delay hits the new Hackney library next to Dalston Junction

Colvestone primary schoolchildren's display inside CLR James Dalston Library © ∂å

THE NEW CLR James Dalston Library opened today – but without the controversial café and coffee bar.

Businessman Gurkan Bozdere says that he “signed off” on the contract only last week because Hackney council had been slow to resolve his worries about security and other matters at his new premises. He and his father also run the Sömine restaurant in Kingsland High Street.

He told Loving Dalston: “The council seemed to close down around Christmas and New Year. It took a long time to get agreement on the contract.”

The delay in getting keys meant that he had been unable to install catering equipment. He was nevertheless confident that he would be ready for business before the end of this month, January 2012.

Jonathan McShane, the council’s community-services cabinet member, said: “Dalston CLR James Library opened this morning [Mon 23 Jan ’12] and is already proving a hit with local people. Though the café is taking a little longer than we would have wanted, it will be open in about four weeks.”

The setback comes soon after Bozdere was criticised by commenters to local blogs and websites that had not given the locally raised entrepreneur a chance to respond to reports that he would make the café a Starbucks.

When Loving Dalston approached him, he said that the only sign of the US company would be a notice saying “We proudly serve Starbucks”.

In the library proper, there are also signs of incompleteness: disabled access for example, although Loving Dalston was told that would be improved. Overall, however, the £4.8 million facility shows the potential to become a great and useful attraction.

CLR James children’s library
Above, the new children’s library. Main picture, Colvestone primary school display in the new library

The library’s move from the postwar building 100m east to a site closer to Dalston Junction station has suffered several delays: the opening date was postponed several times. And Hackney found itself in the midst of a controversy after this site revealed in February 2010 that the council planned to drop the name of CLR James, the Trinidadian writer who lived for many years in Brixton, where he died in 1989.

After further Loving Dalston stories, an internet petition attracted thousands of signatures, and the council backtracked to say it would reinstate the name.

The revelations had a similar result for the Rose Lipman name on the archives premises in Downham Road, De Beauvoir N1. Hackney had intended to drop the title when the archives moved to the new library – until McShane said that  “Rose  Lipman” would stay on the De Beauvoir building.

David Altheer 230112

* All pictures on this page © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com. All for sale for reproduction. Most photographs can be visually enlarged by pressing on them.

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4 thoughts on “What, no Starbucks coffee yet? Another delay hits the new Hackney library next to Dalston Junction

  1. The delay in the library’s opening — and the continued delay in the opening of the archives facility there — is due to the apparent inability of the relevant subcontractors to bring the archive climate controls within the required limits. Hackney council wanted so badly to open the two facilities simultaneously that it opted to delay the library in the hope of getting the archives to open at the same time but finally gave up on the idea, long after it could have given us our new – but still partly unpainted – library and the use, in particular, of all its scores of public access computers.

  2. So I get the crud coffee without any of the benefits? I can’t use my Starbucks card to get free extra shots, and there’s no weekly iTunes card either? With the excellent coffee at Café Oto just across the road, sounds like I for one won’t be rushing to get my coffee fix at the library.

  3. This appears to a very negative article about a very positive amenity for the community. I saw no “incompleteness” and who cares about the café? Did you find any books when you visited the library? [A good point, wittily put. I knew that established media, and the council’s excellent freesheet would report the more general aspects on the library — ie, rehash the council’s press release — so I had to find something different. (Hackney Today led with it.) I reported the café delay, the latest development in a running controversy that seems to have focussed, unfairly, on the café operator. My article included praise for the library — a small amount, for the reasons earlier mentioned. The charge of negativity is a little hard to take: if I had not been doing my job in the first place, the library would not have been called CLR James.]

  4. As someone who has worked in public libraries and knows how much work is involved in building and preparing a new library, I’d recommend that people visit in a week or two when the place is fully up and running. National Libraries Day on Saturday 4 February 2012 strikes me as an appropriate day 🙂

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