Streatham’s library night wins praise from Poland

18 January 2019

Written by: Lambeth Council

Arts, culture and events - Children and young people - Focus on Streatham - Voluntary and community sector

‘PolishBookshelf’ night at Streatham Library saw almost 30 local children staying in the Library to read books and celebrate Polish heritage – winning praise from Poland.

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Streatham’s library night wins praise from Poland

All across Poland, 1,874 public libraries ran summertime events in 2018 to promote books and encourage children to read.

UK library joining the big read

Streatham Tate Library’s sleepover and read-in for local children was the only example in the UK of a library joining the ‘Nights at the Library’ that are so popular with the Polish community. ‘Night in the Library’ is an initiative of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, the Centre for Civic Education and the National Programme for the Development of Reading, promoting reading. It is now in its fourth year in Poland.

Promoting reading

In Streatham Library, 29 local children aged from 7 to 12 took part  in creative workshops with writers and illustrators aiming to promote readership and bilingualism  and celebrate Polish heritage.


After the interactive activities, children tucked-in to pizzas provided by a local pizzeria, then slept in their sleeping bags on the floor in between bookcases. In the morning, all children received souvenirs and books donated by the Polish Book Institute

Polish books

Clarinda Calma from London’s Polish Embassy donated Polish-language books as part of the ‘Polish Bookshelf ‘project. The 2018 theme ‘RzeczposCzyta [ReadPublic] was inspired by the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence after the First World War. The event was supported by many other organisations and individuals, with Polish authors, artists and TV personalities dropping in to Streatham Library to be part of it.

Library by night and day

Streatham Library Night has now received a diploma of recognition and thanks from the Noc Bibliotek Foundation in Poland for ‘becoming one of the most creative, friendly, resourceful and active spaces worth visiting both day and night,’ as a result of June’s ‘Night in the Library’ .

Poles Connect

The night  was made possible through Poles Connect, a project run by Stockwell Partnership that promotes social integration of the Polish community in Lambeth. The project is supported by the Polish Consul, Polish Cultural Institute and the Embassy and has included art exhibitions and the making of a film about ‘local heroes’ from the community.

New tradition

Marta Sordyl, Poles Connect project coordinator,  said: “We hope to make Library Nights a new tradition in Lambeth, just as it is in Poland, by holding another sleepover and read-in this Autumn. Poles Connect has applied for funding from the Polish Embassy to deliver another night in October 2019”.

For more information

Photo courtesy of Ursula Soltys