CARNEGIE LIBRARY OCCUPATION CONTINUES…….a building with no professional library staff “is not a library”
LIBRARY OCCUPATION: Call for Lambeth Council to listen and engage
Friends of Lambeth Libraries statement today (Monday)
The occupation of Carnegie Library, Herne Hill, begins its fifth day today (Monday April 4).
40 people, aged from seven to 73, are still in the building.
Over the weekend, hundreds of Lambeth residents have shown their support by coming to the now-locked entrance grille, blitzing social media and donating huge quantities of food and other essentials.
But only one response has come from Lambeth council – whose insistence on installing a fee-charging gym in the much-loved free library has provoked the occupation. It has called the police, laid on extra security guards, and is taking court action to eject the occupiers. No other contact has been made.
The occupiers say:
“We’ve tried to talk to Lambeth for months. We’re only doing this because they still won’t listen.
“We are getting overwhelming community support because people want proper libraries”.
The Carnegie is one of four libraries due to be replaced by much smaller unstaffed ‘lounges’ with no staff and a small range of books, and nobody to help people.
Two of these four, including Carnegie, will have fee-charging gyms installed by leisure company GLL at a cost of £3m. The Friends of Lambeth Libraries contend that a building with no professional library staff is not a library.
The occupiers added: “Lambeth should listen to the community and the staff. How much louder do we need to shout?”
“The gym plan is going to cost money, not save money.
“Come and talk to us while this is straightforward to solve, before we take each other to court.”
Dorothea (48): “This is the fourth evening here for us. “We keep going because we can see how many people come to the front gates of the library to support us. “They bring food, blankets and hot water bottles because they want to be part of this. “They are angry about this silly decision, they are emotional to see us behind the bars day in and out. “All they want is to keep “their” library and nobody wants a gym!”
Lisa (50): “The community support for us occupiers has been fantastic: that support is for the library. All the donations of food, blankets and so on is simply an expression of how much people want to see their library reopened”
Friends of Lambeth Libraries statement Sunday April 3rd
Library Occupation now in 4th day – holding firm
Carnegie Library, Herne Hill, SE24 0AG
40 people in building including 11 month-old twin girls, 10 kids under 10, 10 teenage girls in quiet room studying for A-levels – if library closes they will have nowhere to study .
Lambeth council making no attempt at dialogue – the very problem that drove us to occupy library in 1st place. Only reaction is to tell us to leave, call in police, deploy extra security guards – none of them have found they have anything to do at all. All running well in here.
Key issue – Lambeth determined to close 4 of its 10 libraries, & replace with minimal facilities with NO STAFF. They call these libraries. They are not.
Added insanity – secret deal with leisure firm GLL to instal GYMS in 2 of these buildings (Carnegie,Minet) at huge expense – £3m capital, £1+m revenue. Not needed, not wanted.
WHOLE THING STRONGLY OPPOSED FROM DAY 1 – COUNCIL WOULD NOT LISTEN.
ALTERNATIVE PLAN TO KEEP ALL10 LIBRARIES OPEN, MAKING SAME SAVINGS OR MORE, DEVISED BY BRILLIANT HEAD OF LIBRARIES – COUNCIL WOULD NOT LISTEN.
IMAGES & VIDEO:
We will be updating the files here on an ongoing basis
Friends of Lambeth Libraries statement Saturday April 2nd:
According to the BBC, Lambeth Council has described the occupation as “obstructive” and “misleading”, as the library’s closure is “only temporary”.
Are we misleading?
By its own admission, Lambeth Council will never re-open these buildings as proper libraries. In the Council’s own words (1): “Both Carnegie and Minet will be retained, but we can only afford to do that by changing the nature of the services there.
“In partnership with Greenwich Leisure Limited, the social enterprise organisation that runs Lambeth’s leisure centres, these two libraries will offer fitness centres alongside some library services.”
When they re-open, stock, PCs and space would be much reduced. There would be no staff on site at all to help people. And according to Unison, it would be too unsafe for children to visit unaccompanied. Campaigners say: “That’s not a library service, so the library is closing.”
Are we obstructive?
If Lambeth council had had their way, the library would now be completely closed and empty of poeple. We are keeping it clean, bright and full of books. The council is obstructing the community from coming in.
On the other hand, campaigners have spent 6 months trying to set up a constructive relationship with Lambeth, including presenting an alternative plan for a staff/community mutual trust, that had the support of all. Instead, there has been no negotiation, staff have been on strike and we have had to occupy the library to try and get our voices heard.
The chess club and all the other free other community activities now have no place to go. When the buildings re-open, free activities run by volunteers will have to pay to hire space. Their futures are obstructed.
The occupation is a last resort to obstruct the council in their quest to destroy our local library and replace it with an unwanted GLL gym with a few books. We want them to work with the community on the alternative plan for the community/staff mutual, which we all support. This would save all our 10 libraries – and cost FAR LESS than the ridiculous GLL gym plan.
On the BBC, a council spokesman said the Carnegie “would reopen to the public, for longer hours, in early 2017 and will have a neighbourhood library service, health and fitness facilities and space for community groups to use”.
Longer hours to access very little! Little stock, no staff. We don’t even know if there can be maintainable IT facilities. Because there will be no staff, it will be too unsafe for kids to visit at any time!
In 2014 a consultation took place in which the idea of a gym at the Carnegie was explicitly rejected. And those “community groups” – now run by volunteers, helping people for free – will have to pay to hire space.
According to today’s Financial Times Lambeth council say that “libraries tend to have articulate, educated supporters while other local services do not”. We have heard this argument time and time again.
On the contrary, anyone who visits public libraries regularly will see how they are used by all sections of the community and it is precisely this diversity and openness that we value.
Nobody needs a referral or appointment to use a library. Lambeth council’s equalities impact assessment (report to Cabinet, 12 October 2015) frankly admits there is no way to mitigate the future loss to a long list of vulnerable people.
We abhor the cuts to all local authority services. But Lambeth is hiding the truth. The alternative proposal would save money while continuing to offer a safe, staffed space for vulnerable people and all library users.
The GLL plan costs money to Lambeth who are paying for the refurbishment and backing the first year of operation.
Caroline Christian, Paediatric psychotherapist: “Lambeth is the borough with most inequality and poverty. Under 16s use the libraries evenings and at weekends to learn and to complete their homework.”
Rashid Nix, Green Party GLA Lambeth and Southwark candidate May 2016: “This is a complete betrayal of the people of Lambeth. “There was a time when barbarians destroyed and burned libraries, nowadays its the Labour politicians who carry out these acts of cultural vandalism. “
Steve Martin. writer and historian: “This occupation really needs to be done in all libraries. “It is a model of the sort of action that is needed nationwide. “It’s brilliant to see the community standing up for libraries – public assets that should be safeguarded.”
Jeremy Clyne, former councillor for Streatham Hill and former Lib Dem culture spokesperson on Lambeth council “The council wanted to shut Carnegie Library before, and it was defeated by a strong and united campaign. “Now they have done the unthinkable and locked the door. “I’m sure that even now – if enough people come together to fight it – this stupid and short-sighted decision can be revised.”
Greta Thompson age 18, Year 13 student: “Carnegie has taken me through 11 GCSE’s and 4 As levels. “Now when I face the most important exam season of my life (A2 levels to get into uni) this amazing study space is being stolen. “Not only is it heartbreaking, but grade threatening!”
Further reading: Brixton Buzz April 3rd: Another late night twitter meltdown as Lambeth Labour Cllr’s make bizarre criticism of Carnegie campaigners for drinking wine
UPDATE: News From Crystal Palace understands that Cllr Jim Dixon, one of the three Herne Hill ward councillors in which Carnegie library stands, was due to be supporting London’s Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan outside Herne Hill station last Saturday. Cllr Dixon wasn’t there – but library campaigners were…….(See: “IT’S A LIBRARY, JIM – BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT” News From Crystal Palace 16th October 2015)