Eating in the Library

We have become used to the idea that libraries of all kinds are adding on coffee shops and the like, and no longer necessarily barring food and drink being brought in. This increasing linkage between food and libraries seems to be taken a stage further in London, where a number of former libraries are being turned into restaurants, either within the institution to which they belong, or as a whole building. Two new examples of the former have emerged in recent weeks. The restaurant of the newly-refurbished Whitechapel Art Gallery is in its library, while the Royal Institution’s Time and Space restaurant shows its origins by featuring shelves of bound journals and even some catalogue cards. Both feature a ‘modern British’ menu. The complete conversions are exemplified by the former public libraries of Westminster and Holborn, now transmuted into the Cinnamon Club (Indian) and the Shanghai Blues (Chinese) restaurants respectively. Nice to see the spaces being put to good use, but somehow rather sad.

Shanghai Blues, formerly Holborn Library
Shanghai Blues, formerly Holborn Library

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