What’s on in Hackney libraries

Black History Season 2021

Storytime and craft – colourful African necklaces

Shoreditch Library 9 October, 2-3pm

Listen to our traditional African stories and create an African-style necklace made out of paper. All ages.

Fruit Fiesta odun storytelling and singing

Stoke Newington Library, 12 October, 11am-12 noon

Come and join us for our special under 5s session.

Lola will be reading Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne and singing a beautiful fruity song from Western Nigeria called Under the Orange Tree.

CHARRED anniversary tour – poetry readings and Q&A

Stoke Newington Library, Tuesday 19 October, 6.30-7,30pm

With Andreena Leeanne, poet and author of CHARRED: a collection of poems about her personal experiences with homelessness, mental health, childhood sexual abuse and the many other challenges she has faced in her life. Signed copies of CHARRED will be available to purchase at the event.

Mancala craft and game session

Clapton Library, 26 October, 2-3pm

Learn how to play mancala, one of the oldest games in the world, and make your own game to take home.

Storytime and family craft (6+ and family)

Homerton Library, 26 October, 2.30-4pm

Join us to create a freedom quilt and listen to the story of Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt.

Handa’s Surprise storytelling and craft (7 and under)

Dalston CLR James Library, 27 October, 2-3.30pm

Join us for a special story time, and make Handa’s fruit basket from paper and card.

Drop in session.

Storytime and family craft

Homerton Library, 28 October, 2.30-4pm

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: a true story from Africa. Hear the story of Wangari and create your very own tree.

African textile arts workshop (age 5+)

Stoke Newington Library, 28 October, 2-3.30pm

Explore and experiment, making accessories using African wax print textiles and recycled objects, using weaving and wrapping techniques. Make badges, rosettes, bangles and more.

Kente cloth paper weaving

Shoreditch Library 28 October, 2-3pm

Weave together patterned paper to make a traditional Ghanese kente cloth. Ages 6+.

African mask making

Stamford Hill Library, 29 October, 2-3pm

Create and decorate your own African mask.

7th National Poetry Day with the Lockdown poetry group

Online, 7, 14, 21 and 28 October, 6.30-7.30pm

This October please join our Lockdown poetry group as they explore the work of African and African-British writers.

We will be reading the poetry of established names such as Wole Soyinka, Lemn Sissay and Patience Agbabi, and also discovering newer voices like Kayo Chingonyi, Vanessa Kisuule and Warsan Shire. All this alongside work by many others you may have already heard of and many more you are sure to be reading in the future.

Sessions will be held throughout the month of October, please request more details or sign up for the free online sessions by emailing jack.houston@hackney.gov.uk.

Events for adults

Book launch: Our Time is Now by Selma James

Dalston CLR James Library, Thursday 30 September, 6-8pm

Hackney Libraries hosts a book launch to celebrate Ms James’ anthology, Our Time Is Now: Sex, Race, Class, & Caring for People and Planet.

The event is free, but spaces are limited so please book via Eventbrite.

The event will also be live streamed – follow Hackney Libraries on Facebook.

Ancestry talks with Paul Crooks

A published author and genealogist, Paul Crooks came to prominence when he became the first genealogist to trace his family history back 6 generations, from London to his ancestors captured off the West African coast 200 years ago.

His books, Ancestors and A Tree Without Roots – The Guide To Tracing British, African And Asian Caribbean Ancestry brought him international recognition for his breakthrough research into Black ancestry.

Black History for beginners

Shoreditch Library, 28 September, 6.30-7.30pm

Discover how Black ancestry and Black history can be harnessed as powerful tools for personal development, self-empowerment and increasing self-esteem.


  • Africa: Before the rise of Capitalism (10-15 mins)
  • Africans in Caribbean: From Enslavement to Emancipation (10-15 mins)
  • Black & British: The Windrush Generation (5 mins)
  • reclaiming and drawing inspiration from the past (5 mins)
  • Q&A (20 mins)

Tracing Black History – Who Do You Think You Are?

Dalston Library, 5 October, 6.30-7.30pm

In this masterclass, Paul captivates audiences with his unique account of how he traced his roots and his family’s migration down through the generations to Windrush.

Empowering Black History: The Perfect Storm that Ended Slavery

Shoreditch Library, 12 October, 6.30-7.30pm

Paul Crooks was intrigued to learn his great great great grandfather walked free from the Cousins Cove sugar plantation, Jamaica in 1838. This prompted his curiosity about what lay behind the decision to free the enslaved people of the Caribbean.

The talk is suitable for you if:

  • you want to develop your knowledge and understanding of Black history
  • you’re new to exploring family history
  • you have experience of searching for your ancestors but want to know about other sources
  • you’ve have started, but your hit difficulties moving forward with you search

Other events

An evening with Ben Aaronovitch

28 September, 6-7.30pm, Stoke Newington Library

Join Ben Aaronovitch to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of Rivers of London.

National Libraries Week, 4-10 October

Book cover redesign event

Friday 8 October, Stamford Hill Library, 3.30-4.30pm

Use your imagination to redesign your favourite book cover and see it displayed at Stamford Hill Library.

All materials provided. Ages 6+. Limited number of participants. Please book in advance:  stamfordhill.library@hackney.gov.uk or 02083561708.

Fizz, pop, science

9 October, 11am-12 noon, Dalston CLR James Library, ages 4-11

Introduce your children to the marvels of the environment in a fun and highly imaginative ‘Wild world heroes’ science experiment from Fizz Pop Science. We’ll combine water with citric acid and baking soda to create a bubbling mixture of CO2.

Community library service open week

All week, Stoke Newington Library

Join us for an open week and visit our beautiful old reference library department. We will have some goodies for everyone stopping to say hello and interested in visiting us. More information on the community library service.


Summer Reading Challenge 2021

Lockdown poetry group

Every Thursday evening from 6pm

Poets, wordsmiths, and poetry fans, take part in our weekly lockdown poetry group, run by Hackney Libraries’ poet in residence, Jack Houston. This season Jack is running several thought-provoking workshops to inspire your creative energies. For more information, email jack.houston@hackney.gov.uk.

Reading Friends

Reading Friends is a reading befriending programme that helps to start conversations and connect people who are lonely and isolated.  The aim of the programme is to help end loneliness and support mental health and wellbeing through the proven power of reading.

Quizzes and jigsaws

Keep yourself and your young ones entertained with Hackney Libraries’ #WhereInHackney jigsaw puzzles and #HackneyQuirkyQuizzes.

Online quizzes

Virtual jigsaw puzzles

  • this jigsaw puzzle features an image of Braidwood’s Academy, the first deaf school in Britain. This academy was built in the 18th century and stood at what is now 36 Chatham Place
  • the more things change, the more things stay the same. Solve this jigsaw puzzle and take a look at a school class visiting Hackney Central Library in 1958
  • Elmer’s birthday is at the end of May, so we’ve made a jigsaw puzzle featuring everyone’s favourite patchwork elephant.

Social media

Follow Hackney Libraries on social media to take part in our virtual events. From craft sessions to storytimes, our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are jam packed with activities to keep you and your family entertained.

Follow Hackney Libraries on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Sign up to our newsletter

Page updated on: 20 September 2021

Hackney Libraries

Follow us on: twitterfacebook


Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman St
E8 1DY


Opening times

  • Renewals and information line open Mon to Fri, 8am to 6pm