Twitter logo Facebook logo Instagram logo

The Idea Story


The Idea

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.

Meeting Local Needs

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.

An Idea into Reality

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, Idea Store Canary Wharf in March 2006 and Idea Store Watney Market in May 2013.


The Idea Strategy

Download the Idea Store Strategy Documents

Idea Store Funders

Idea Store buildings were funded by a wide range of different sources:

Idea Store Bow
•    Tower Hamlets Council 
•    UK Online 
•    Bow People's Trust 
•    The Big Lottery Fund (formerly the New Opportunities Fund)

Idea Store Chrisp Street
•    Tower Hamlets Council 
•    UK Online 
•    Leaside Regeneration 
•    Lloyds of London Charities Trust

Idea Store Whitechapel
•    Tower Hamlets Council 
•    Tower Hamlets College 
•    UK Online 
•    European Regional Development Fund 
•    London Development Agency 
•    Cityside Regeneration 
•    Surestart 
•    Sainsbury Families Charitable Trusts

Idea Store Canary Wharf
•    Tower Hamlets Council 
•    Canary Wharf Group 
•    Learning and Skills Council 
•    London Metropolitan University 
•    Barclays 
•    Tower Hamlets College

Idea Store Watney Market
•    Tower Hamlets Council 
•    Big Lottery Fund