At the heart of the community, Blackfen Community Library and Rooted Coffee House provide a home away from home. Our motto is ‘a big hello’ – a warm greeting and welcoming space for everyone, including those who may not always feel welcome
elsewhere. We are more than a library, though we do – of course – provide a whole world of books, in addition we offer activities for people of all ages each week.
We have big ideas for the future and our staff and volunteers have a big heart to see our space used in a way that impacts Blackfen for good.
Rooted coffee house, our café, is a central part of the library, providing an amazing space in which we run various activities and events that bring our community together. You can also hire this bright and unique space for your own events and celebrations.
Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 9.30am–5.00pm
How to join
We’d love you to join Blackfen Community Library.
To register for your library card simply pop into the library with a form of ID which states your address. It will only take a few minutes to issue you your new card.
In 2015/16 The London Borough of Bexley invited community organisations to apply to run several libraries in Bexley including the Blackfen library. The New Generation Church Trust (which runs other community projects in the local area, such as Lark in the Park and Hope Community School) applied to the Council and were approved to reopen Blackfen library as a community library.
The New Generation Community Trust was then established to deliver the ‘service level agreement’ in partnership with Bexley Council.
The New Generation Community Trust completely refurbished the library site and added a coffee shop. There was more focus on community space, alongside the books. Blackfen Community Library opened in April 2016.
Since then the Library has become more than a library. It is a vital, thriving community hub, providing a welcoming space for everyone, including those who may not always feel welcome elsewhere. There are various activities for people of all ages each week and regular community events throughout the year. And, of course, there are hundreds of books.
Library membership has also grown from 2,000 members to more than 5,000 members. In addition, we continue to lend more books than any other community library in Bexley. We are also the only community library in Bexley to see an increase in visits.
How we run
Blackfen Community Library management is governed by the Trustees of the New Generation Community Trust who meet quarterly. We have a manager leading a mixed team of volunteers and part-time paid staff with many of the core library tasks (such as book stock management, book replenishment and handling the Library Management System) being led and managed by experienced volunteers. Our Community Manager coordinates and organises the many groups, programmes and events that run in the Library, recruits volunteers and links with other community organisations. Other paid staff assist with financial administration and the running of Rooted Coffee House.
The London Borough of Bexley supports Blackfen Community Library through quarterly funding grants; enabling peppercorn rent for the lease of our building and assistance with repair and maintenance costs. We have a close working relationship with the Council and report progress against key performance indicators on a quarterly basis.
Blackfen Community Library covers the cost of all other running costs including utilities, IT and access the Library Management System.
As you can imagine, the cost of running our community hub is a struggle. All revenue from Rooted Coffee House goes back into the running of the Library. We have received some ad hoc grants from local traders, such as the Co-op Community Fund and other organisations such as the People’s Lottery. We also do other fundraising, such as our ‘Friends of the Library’ annual subscription, Bexley Community Lottery and through PayPal and Amazon Smile. We are also fortunate to have generous donors who contribute to special events, such as the ‘open door’ lunch we run to encourage isolated people in the community to come out for a meal and meet other people from the local area, and our free Santa’s Grotto with presents for local children – through which last year 300 local children received a present.
Now in our fourth year of running, we are proud of what we have achieved so far. We have established ourselves on the high street, developing a lively community hub providing great library services along with a creative and empowering space for the community of Blackfen.Now in our fourth year of running, we are proud of what we have achieved so far. We have established ourselves on the high street, developing a lively community hub providing great library services along with a creative and empowering space for the community of Blackfen.We have grown our membership and developed regular programmes of activities for people of all ages in our local community.
We want to keep providing more services and opportunities for growth, inspiration and transformation for our visitors, library members, volunteers and employees. Some of our ideas to do this include:
- inspiring local writers and performers to use our space to promote local creativity and bring people together
- developing a creative space for young people to express their literary work such as open mic sessions, spoken word events, book readings and launches,
- providing more support and training to facilitate work experience for young people with disabilities and/or young people who are not in education, employment or training.
- providing work experience opportunities in the coffee shop to give unemployed people valuable, transferable skills,
- providing ‘life coaching’ sessions for our staff and volunteers to enable them to achieve their potential,
- Providing more formal training and inspiring experiences for our volunteers to ‘give back’ and build capability in our volunteers,
- continuing to run community events, in partnership with local traders, particularly events which have been successful in bringing isolated people in to the Library.
Do you have any ideas for how we can better serve our local community? We’d love to hear them, please email firstname.lastname@example.org