The first educational soft play area in the country is coming to Greenwich, thanks to a new fund from the Arts Council to support innovative activity in England’s public libraries.

Greenwich Leisure Ltd and Royal Borough of Greenwich have been awarded a total of £125,121 to create Story Book Play: an indoor soft play facility built around the theme of children’s literature. Modelled on the outdoor play area in the Bibliotekshaven, Copenhagen, this will be the first of its kind in this country, installed in Eltham Library, Greenwich.

The Story Book area will bring play into the world of the library, recognising and expanding the role of play in children’s development.

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said:

"We all know the best way for young children to learn is through play. Story Book Play will help build the imaginations and creative thinking of hundreds of children. I'm pleased we have been able to support the creation of this fantastic project, and to encourage more children to find their own way into literature for life."

Diana Edmonds, Head of Libraries, Greenwich Leisure Ltd, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this substantial sum of money from Arts Council England to support the development of Story Book Play, soft play for children with a literary theme. Story Book Play will bring books and their characters to life with an immersive and interactive experience to celebrate the joy of reading.  Free to use, it is sure to inspire, entertain and delight younger visitors and their families.”

The money is from a new fund from the Arts Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS): The Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund. Launched in December 2016 as part of The Libraries Taskforce strategy to help create successful and sustainable public library services, the fund aims to support innovative activity in England’s public libraries. The investment will support libraries to help build a fairer society and deliver opportunities for disadvantaged communities across the country.

More than £3.9million has been awarded to 30 local authorities’ libraries across the country, including four others in London: Merton, Lewisham, Redbridge and Harrow.

Kathy Settle, CEO of the Libraries Taskforce said:

“We know that libraries are at the heart of their communities and we want to see them continue to thrive for future generations. Libraries providing a wide range of services to meet local needs is critical to this.

“Having the ability to test out new ideas in new areas through this DCMS-funded programme is a fantastic opportunity, and I was delighted at the variety of projects submitted. We’ll be supporting the successful library services to share the evaluation of their projects widely so others can also benefit from their learning.”