The best libraries and bookshops near Elephant & Castle

With summer coming, Elephant & Castle has an abundance of good places to read. Here’s a round up of Southwark Libraries and book shops to find your next read.

Arts and culture
  • 27 April 2022

Walworth Library

147 Walworth Road, SE17 1RW

Walworth Library is home to over 20,000 books, study spaces, historical artefacts, art and more. There are bookable PCs for both adults and children and a number of branch-out areas, so you can have a bit of peace and quiet to find the right book for you. 

The library also adjoins Southwark Heritage Centre, so there’s a lot more to explore than just books! For more information on all the library listings in this article, including up to date library opening times and memberships, visit the Southwark Borough Council website


East Street Library

168 – 170 Old Kent Road, SE1 5TY

Another of the Southwark libraries, East Street Library can be found on the corner of East Street and Old Kent Road. 

As well as the book collection which can be borrowed out by members, the library offers study spaces, public PCs and WiFi, and Mystery Book Bags. It’s only a 15-minute walk from Elephant Springs – our natural beauty spot at the heart of Elephant Park. So we say borrow a book, head to a hammock and enjoy an afternoon in nature. 


Community Book Swap at Rocket Van Coffee Shop

92 Brandon Street, SE17 1AL

The coffee shop at Rocket Van Removals is home to a community book swap – not only a great way to find a new read, but also a great way to contribute to the circular economy! The coffee shop is also only a seven-minute walk from one of the Southwark libraries, located on Old Kent Road, so it’s a great place to stop by after securing your latest read!

The premise is you bring a book of your own that’s used but in good condition, add it to the bookshelves at Rocket Van Coffee, and take one away for yourself! An excellent example of recycling – and free, too! 

Rocket Van Coffee is also now operating as a bar at weekends. From Thursday to Saturday, enjoy cocktails, beers and wines, accompanied by events on certain dates. The Rocket Van Bar is open from 6pm – 11pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and 12pm – 11pm on Saturdays, so you can head down with friends for a drink, or enjoy some solo reading time with a refreshing tipple in hand.


Calder Book Shop and Theatre

51 The Cut, SE1 8LF

The Calder Book Shop and Theatre is a wonderful option if you’re seeking a book to feed your soul. 

With a specialism in books related to Theatre, Calder is named after John Calder, writer, publisher and friend of Samuel Beckett. The book shop also has a range of specialist books on the topics of politics, psychology, political history and philosophy. 

Again, with a sterling collection of second-hand books and rarer publications, you’re not only searching for an interesting read – you might also take home a little piece of history. 

As we’ve mentioned, not only is there a range of Southwark libraries and book shops to choose from to find your next read, there’s also a few great places to tuck yourself away and get stuck into a good book! From cosy cafés to Elephant Springs for the warmer days, the options are endless.