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This Week in Idea Store

Idea Store re-opening

We’re delighted to welcome back visitors to Idea Store BowIdea Store Chrisp Street and Idea Store Whitechapel - while other locations continue to be assessed. To continue to keep everybody safe, Idea Stores are currently offering a reduced number of services. 

You can simply pop in, (there may be a wait at busy times), or you can book ahead to guarantee your slot, including to collect books, and for access to computers and the internet.

opening hours

Monday to Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday: Midday to 4pm

All other Idea Stores and Libraries remain closed. We are working behind the scenes to re-open further locations as soon as it is safe to do so

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What to expect on your visit

Services in stores are very limited to help maintain social distancing and to enable us to follow guidance on safe handling of books. Only a small part of the buildings is open and many facilities including seating, toilets, printing and photocopying are not available.

  • You can use our Click and Collect service. Choose a book on our online catalogue and we'll email to let you know when it's ready to collect. When you get our email you can make an appointment to pick up your book.
  • It's not possible to browse the whole collection but you can choose from a small number of curated displays
  • You can take away one of our lucky dip bags of books for children or for adults selected by Idea Store staff
  • You can return any items you have out without an appointment - although there's no hurry as everything is renewed until October
  • You can book a computer to get on the internet for one 45 minute session per week book in advance online Computers are for customers who need to access Tower Hamlets Council and other public services online such as benefits and job applications, for study  or work reasons, or to access social media. Streaming of music, film and other entertainment websites is currently not allowed
  • You can book study space for up to 2 hours per day (Idea Store Chrisp Street and Idea Store Bow only) 


keeping safe

In line with current legislation all visitors aged 12 and over are required to wear a face covering.

All customers are asked to follow the social distancing measures, one-way systems and to help staff keep the stores safe.

In order to help our colleagues in public health we are asking everyone who comes in to give us contact details as part of the test and trace scheme.


click and collect

You can use our click and collect service to order books.

Just go to our online catalogue and put in the details of the book you want. You can also order items using our app. When the book is ready we'll send you an email and you can make an appointment to pick it up.


online services

We’re still offering a range of online services including:


Newspapers and magazines


Summer Reading Challenge

Business Support

This Week in Idea Store

Local History is back!

the team inside tower hamlets local history library and archives and a statue wearing a face mask

The wonderful Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives is opening its doors to the public again from Tuesday 29 September. Please check the website for full details, as there will be reduced opening and you'll need to book an appointment, but they are also continuing the virtual projects they have been working on in lockdown.

Below is just one of the exciting things they are working on and we will be keeping a sharp eye on it for the future 

bangladesh 50 project


Tour the Tower

If you are a Tower Hamlets resident the great opportunity to visit the Tower of London for £1 is back!  

Built in the time of William of conqueror this magnificent building is a heap of history and part of the Tower Hamlets story. Visit the white tower, see the crown jewels and check out the ravens. Did you know during the 1200s, the Tower of London housed a royal zoo filled with exotic animals including lions, kangaroos, polar bears, elephants and it’s a world heritage site.

You may be lucky enough to meet the Ravenmaster Christopher Skaife the Yeoman Warden or Beefeater in charge of the talismanic ravens. Chris gave a riveting talk at our annual book festival last year. 

tower of london

Us book coverUs

Sunday night saw the start of the BBC adaptation of ‘Us’ by the award-winning author David Nicholls. Long listed for the Booker Prize in 2014 this charming and witty story tells the tale of biochemist Douglas Petersen who goes on a ‘grand tour’ style cultural holiday with his artistic wife who has told him she wants to leave him after 25 years of marriage now their son is also leaving home. Douglas is convinced the holiday will make Connie fall in love with him again.

Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves star in this new drama on the BBC which should be a delightfully relaxing Sunday night watch-just what we need at the moment. 


Covid-19 Testing Centre at Idea Store Watney Market

A new government run Covid-19 local test centre has opened in Tower Hamlets, to help increase testing capacity for the borough’s residents.  

The local testing centre is located at Idea Store Watney Market in Shadwell. Its central location will help improve access to tests for residents without a car, or those unable to travel long distances. 

Idea Store services will continue to be available to residents at nearby Chrisp Street and Whitechapel. 

Book your Idea Store Visit!

Did you know that Idea store Bow has now opened it's doors and, along with Idea store Whitechapel and Chrisp Street, is open 10am - 6pm during the week and 12noon - 4pm at the weekend?

Why not pop along and pick up a pile of books to read? Our lucky dip bags have proved to be especially popular with a selection of staff picks in them which hopefully will make you pick up something unknown to you and take you down a whole new rabbit hole of discovery. 

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