Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon outside Carnegie library
MORE THAN 200 AUTHORS SIGN PETITION AGAINST LIBRARIES PLANS – GREEN PARTY GLA CANDIDATE SLAMS LAMBETH’S ATTITUDE TO CAMPAIGNERS – EDBROOKE SET TO BE CABINET MEMBER FOR CHILDREN AND SCHOOLS
More than 200 authors have signed an open letter to Lambeth councillors calling on them to scrap their plans for closures and healthy living centres.
The letter, which supports the Carnegie library occupation, also calls for Lambeth to keep all 10 Lambeth libraries fully open with professional library staff and to collaborate with the librarians and all the Friends groups to find ways to secure the future of Lambeth libraries.
Among the 220 signatories to the letter published in ‘The Bookseller’ are authors Ian Rankin; Julian Barnes; Kate Mosse; Nick Hornby; Sarah Waters; David Nicholls; Mark Billingham; Matthew Sweet; Michael Rosen; Sophie Kinsella; Stella Duffy and Val McDermid.
The letter – to council leader Lib Peck, Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Cllr Mohammed Seedat (currently deputy cabinet member for education and skills) and Cllr Jim Dickson (currently cabinet member for health and wellbeing) states:
“We believe that libraries are vital for every community, and that every library needs trained librarians.
“Despite passionate opposition, as represented by the current occupation of Carnegie library, Lambeth council has closed both the Carnegie and Minet libraries, is closing Waterloo library and removing the staff from Upper Norwood joint library.
“Lambeth council say both buildings will re-open ‘sometime’ in 2017 with membership gyms and bookshelves, but no trained librarians. “There are already three gyms within 10 minutes walk of the Carnegie.
“Yes, local governments are facing difficult choices given the large cuts enforced by central government, but closing libraries hurts the youngest and oldest, the weakest and most vulnerable.
“We realise that there may have to be changes in the way that libraries are staffed and run. “Many of these changes are ones the Carnegie and Minet librarians have already put into place.
“The Carnegie library has endured for 110 years – why should we be the generation that fails to pass it on?.”
Other signatories to the letter include: A.L. Kennedy; Colm Toibin; Freya North; Geoff Dyer; Gillian Slovo; India Knight; Jake Arnott; Rachel Seifert. To read the whole list please go to ‘The Bookseller’ website: ‘A letter supporting Carnegie library occupiers’ published April 6, 2016.
Friends of Lambeth Libraries say that on Wednesday, (6th April) local writers Stella Duffy and Toby Litt set out to collect 110 signatures backing the occupation (one for every year the Carnegie has served us).
“They had to shut off the deluge at 220 signatures.”
Other literary personalities who have visited include Alex Wheatle, Francesca ‘Horrid Henry’ Simon and illustrator Sarah McIntyre.
GREEN PARTY GLA CANDIDATE SLAMS LAMBETH’S ATTITUDE TO CAMPAIGNERS
Sian Berry, Green party GLA candidate for Lambeth and Southwark, has criticised Lambeth council’s attitude towards library campaigners.
“It’s disgraceful the way Lambeth seem to put up the shutters, stop listening and keep mischaracterising the campaigners” she told News From Crystal Palace on the steps of the Carnegie library on Thursday.
“These people could not be more committed and passionate about the library and that is what they are trying to save.”
A councillor in Camden which is Labour-controlled, she explained there had been plans to close four libraries in Camden borough. But they are still open – and not sharing their space with gyms.
The community in Camden put forward various ideas for how the buildings could be used – as work hubs, not gyms.
A few years ago her own library in Highgate was threatened and they worked up an alternative option.
“We’ve seen staff cuts but we’ve not lost the building. “If my council can save a library from closure why can’t Lambeth?” she asks.
EDBROOKE SET TO BE CABINET MEMBER FOR CHILDREN AND SCHOOLS
Cllr Jane Edbrooke is set to take over as cabinet member for children and schools at next week’s annual meeting of Lambeth council. Her current position as cabinet member for culture disappears.
UPDATE: Lambeth council won an eviction order at Lambeth county court this morning. Served at 5.30pm this evening it gives the 50 protesters 24 hours to leave the premises or face possible arrest.
The Carnegie featured on both BBC London and ITV London News this evening as the main story or second ‘lead’ with author Stella Duffy pointing out that kids from the nearby Loughborough Junction estate would have nowhere to study.
Lambeth council’s deputy leader for policy (children’s services and public protection) Cllr Imogen Walker appeared on both, smiling sweetly and saying not a lot.