Kilburn and Holborn libraries to be used as ‘cool spaces’ where people can seek shelter from heat

Holborn Library

As summer temperatures are predicted to hot up, Camden Council is planning to use two libraries as cool spaces for people to take respite.

Kilburn and Holborn libraries will be used as official cool spaces where staff will hand out water for people in heatwaves.

Staff are also getting training to offer support for people.

The cool spaces will offer residents free access to computers and wi-fi, information, events and activities.

They will also offer advice sessions, digital skills and employment support through voluntary and community organisations.

The council’s head of recreation Oliver James said the scheme will be promoted for people who find heat a challenge and want to cool down.

He told the council’s culture and environment scrutiny committee on Monday: “We don’t monitor what people do. If they just stroll in and pick up a newspaper that’s great. We don’t know if they come in for air conditioning.”

Libraries use “leg counters” to measure the footfall and they also have visitor data from card use, but staff said many people without library cards also visit.

The move follows the use of libraries, along with community centres and other venues, as Warm Spaces to help people weather the winter and the challenges of increased heating costs.

Last summer, City Hall issued the capital-wide Severe Weather Emergency Protocol  (SWEP) for the first time in response to severe hot weather.

It is a crisis response for people who are homeless and sleeping rough to ensure they get extra help because of extreme weather.

Previously it has only issued a SWEP when the temperature dropped below zero degrees.

City Hall said: “The  Greater London Climate change means there is a greater chance of hotter, drier summers and extreme summer heat events are likely to be the norm. People sleeping rough have a higher risk of poor health outcomes or dying during extreme heat.”

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