Rabbits Road Institute Library
Event, Library, Workshop

Rabbits Road Institute Library is a permanent collection of books at Rabbits Road Institute, nominated by collaborators, friends and participants of the Institute. Made by the community, Rabbits Road Institute Library is the result our collaborative work over 18 months in Manor Park. It is designed to be useful, and compliment the continuing programming and community use of the Institute. It opened as a reference library in October 2016. The full catalogue is available here.

During our time setting up Rabbits Road Institute in a former Carnegie Library in Manor Park, we explored the meaning of public libraries. We held workshops and events with library academics and local people who remembered the former Carnegie Library, to initiate a collective re-thinking and questioning of what a library means and how it might function, and initiated projects exploring self-education and collective learning.

To make the Library, we invited over 150 people to nominate books: friends and collaborators of The Alternative School of Economics, and those involved with our commission in Manor Park since April 2015. Each invitee was asked to suggest a book in any genre that, for them, fitted into one of three subject categories:

People & Place
The Future
Make it Happen

A number of books were also directly donated by individuals, including 50 books selected from the collection of activist Julie Begum.


Rabbits Road Institute Library Launch, 22 October 2016
An afternoon of discussion, film, readings and celebration launched the new Library at Rabbits Road Institute. Programme highlights:

Film Screening & Director Q&A: The Safe House: A Decline of Ideas
A documentary directed by Greta Bellamacina and Davina Cat, charting the history of British public libraries and their current decline. Featuring interviews with the likes of Stephen Fry, Irvine Welsh, Amma Asante and John Cooper Clarke

Talk and Discussion with Alice Corble, Jo Norcup and The Alternative School of Economics: Spirit of ‘64 in 2016: Public Libraries and Emancipatory Spaces
Alice Corble is a library professional, trained Radical Librarian and Goldsmiths PhD Candidate researching the changing forms of libraries under contemporary conditions of rapid economic, technological and cultural change. Dr Jo Norcup is an historical and cultural geographer and honorary research fellow in the Department of Geography, University of Glasgow where her research variously alights on vernacular and dissenting cultures and geographies of education and public libraries.

Live drawing: Markus Vater
Artist Markus Vater created a series of new drawings as a live performance, illustrating in is own way the ideas raised during the afternoon. Artist and founding member of hobbypopMuseum, an art collective that included painters, musicians, architects, photographers and sculptors, he was involved in finding and devising new, open and experimental forms of showing, making and performing art. His own practice involves painting, drawing, writing, video, animation and performance.

Readings: Rabbits Road Institute Library
A series of readings from selected books in Rabbits Road Institute Library, by the people who nominated them. Readers included Hydar Dewachi, Reuben Henry and Craig Ryan.

Untold Histories, 22 January 2016
Talks by archivist Stephan Dickers from the Bishopsgate Institute and activist Julie Begum on local, radical and immigrant histories and cultures. The evening explored a people-focused approach to archives, history and storytelling. Newham Bookshop held a book stall at the event.

Library Workshop, 30 July 2015
We invited a group of local people to collectively think about libraries and what they were, are now and could be in the future. Academic Alice Corble gave us a brief history of the public library movement, and Paul Chelliah, Director of local community centre Trinity, talked about community development in Newham over the last 40 years.

The workshop brainstormed and discussed ‘What Makes a Library?’, ‘How can you make a Library relevant to a community?’, ‘How can it be owned?’, ‘How could it grow?’


Photographs by Emil Charlaff