The Mayor of Hackney officially cut the ribbon on Dalston’s new CLR James Library on Tuesday.
Mayor Jules Pipe and novelist Nick Hornby spoke at a ceremony hosted by Health, Social Care and Culture councilor Jonathan McShane. Hackney MPs Diane Abbot and Meg Hillier were also in attendance.
The library, which launched in early February and now receives its official opening, has received almost 5,000 visits a week.
Pipe described the launch as set “against the backdrop of cuts and closures to library services elsewhere in the country,” calling the library a “fantastic achievement.”
He said: “The library is strengthened rather than diminished by the financial reality that we are now facing in local government across country.”
The library is the first to be built in Hackney for over 20 years and is named after Cyril Lionel Robert James, the Trinidad-born historian of the Haitian revolution and Marxist theorist who was the first black Caribbean to have a novel published in the UK.
He is renowned for seminal works on the 1791-1804 Haitian revolt as well as on cricket.
Hornby, himself an internationally acclaimed author, paid tribute in his speech to James and praised the opening of the library.
He said: “A new library in 2012 is miracle. It’s unbelievable that we manage to do this here while others are closing there.”
The library features 57 computers and wi-fi service as well as the Hackney Archives, which provide access to historical documents dating back to 1356.
Local poet and comedian John Hegley later entertained the guests with riddles, poetry and performance of the song ‘Amiba’.
The prize for a competition to compose sentences starting with ‘I love Dalston C. L. R. James library because…’ was one by nine-year-old Samuel Tadese. He said: “I used to hate reading, and now I come here and I love it.”
Rhiannon Haynes, 10, attending Our Lady and St Joseph Catholic Primary School, stayed in the library after revision to see the launch.
She said: “The children’s section is nice, clean and quiet. I would love to do my homework here.”
Her mother Nicole Haynes added: “It is a big difference from the old one.”
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