DEMO OUTSIDE UPPER NORWOOD LIBRARY
A demonstration organised by the ‘Defend the Ten’ library campaign takes place outside Upper Norwood joint library on Westow Hill at midday on Saturday.
The demonstration comes amid a variety of claims, counter-claims and the inevitable rumour mill surrounding the much-loved library – the latest of which suggests staff could be there until June.
A Facebook post by demo organisers Defend the Ten says that on 30 April Lambeth council will withdraw all professional library staff from Upper Norwood Joint Library.
UPDATE: Statement on Upper Norwood Joint Library issued today (Wednesday)
Upper Norwood Library Trust and Lambeth council are pleased to be able to provide an update on the negotiations around Upper Norwood library.
From 1 July this year, Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL) building will be run by the Upper Norwood Library Trust – members of the local community who have a real passion and commitment to the library.
The trust and Lambeth council have been talking for years about how best to transfer the library to the community and, while it has at times been a frustrating process, the vision for the future now looks bright.
Lambeth council and the Upper Norwood Library Trust are confident that the new arrangement will provide a great service hosted by, and run for, the local community in Upper Norwood – and at a more sustainable cost to the council, which is facing severe budget pressures.
The Trust will be working to develop a range of cultural and educational activities in the building, which aim to engage the whole community, an endeavour which is being joint funded by both Lambeth and Croydon councils to the tune of £85,000 each.
The library service will still be managed by Lambeth with Lambeth’s library staff providing 35 hours of library staff cover per week for two years, with a review after a year. This is what the trust has requested to be able to complete their business model and will assist the trust whilst they establish the new service.
It is proposed that the library will have a very similar book stock as now, operate in much of the same space and host regular community activities such as the popular Waggle and Hum – as it always has.
Money has also been set aside by Lambeth and Croydon to improve the condition of the building – we will provide more news on those improvements within the next month.
The library will continue to run as normal until the transfer on 1 July.
Laura Wright, who chairs Upper Norwood Library Trust, said “We’re absolutely delighted to have secured a level of professional library staffing within the building over the next two years and thank Lambeth for their desire to support our vision of a thriving community hub with a brilliant library at its heart.
“We know that both authorities are battling with austerity measures and so we are delighted with this outcome.
“We will continue to work on behalf of the local community to create a vibrant place for the community to enjoy, with not only a staffed library but new cultural and educational activities”.
(Information on Lambeth council’s view of the changes to Lambeth’s library services can be found at: http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/lambeth-libraries-faq – Editor.)
Defend the Ten’s statement says Saturday’s protest “follows the ten day occupation of Carnegie library in Herne Hill following its closure on 30th March – Minet library was closed at the same time. “Both libraries are planned to become gyms with no professional library staff.
“The occupation produced unprecedented media coverage and condemnation in both national and London press. “A two thousand strong demonstration greeted the occupiers evicted by a court order sought by Lambeth council.
“Now it’s Upper Norwood joint library’s turn to lose its professional staffing. “The Trust that takes over the building has no remit to employ library staff and it’s anybody’s guess how a self-service library will work without qualified staff.
“As usual it is being carried out in the most chaotic and damaging fashion by Lambeth and Croydon councils.
“Defend the Ten libraries has called a demo outside the Library at 12.00. noon next Saturday (30th) to protest the ending of 116 years of a professionally staffed library in Upper Norwood.
“Please join us! Go to: http://defendthe10-lambeth.org.uk/ for more information”
News From Crystal Palace understands that two more staff left Upper Norwood on 31st March due to redundancies/end of contract with two or three more members of staff being likely to leave by the end of May/mid-June
Those who will remain working for Lambeth libraries will be deployed to another site by mid to late June with limited staff hours per week at Upper Norwood due to a massive reduction in funding.
The library officially became self-service this month with remaining staff on site to facilitate the transition (and to start implementing building layout changes as the Trust prepare to take over the building).
The public can use the self-service machines to borrow, return and renew items, pay fines and charges, book public access computers and release print jobs.
The public will have ‘access’ to library stock and computers, with timetabled slots (when staff are on site) for joining, enquiries and activities (yet to be confirmed).
News From Crystal Palace has been unable to confirm a rumour that the Upper Norwood Library Trust are now planning to take over the building on July 1st.
The latest moves show just what a mess Lambeth have made of the whole libraries issue.
In the wake of the Carnegie library, Herne Hill being occupied, Cllr Jane Edbrooke – then cabinet member for culture who is now responsible for children and young people – issued an official Lambeth council circular to residents living nearby which stated:
“We need the occupation of the library to stop so that we are not spending money on security but improving local facilities.”
She also said: “We are committed to providing a library service in ten buildings across Lambeth, the same number as now.” (But if you merge Durning and Tate Lambeth South into a new building……???)
While Carnegie is currently shut – and business users having reportedly been evicted as well* – there have been major problems for local historians wanting to access the archives at the Minet library**. And Waterloo library is still open – and could remain open until June.
If keeping Waterloo open, and keeping staff on at both Waterloo and Upper Norwood have not been budgeted for, and there’s no longer any rent coming in from business users at the Carnegie meaning less cash in the council coffers -where’s the money coming from? Doh!
Defend the Ten’s website says they are a campaign by Lambeth Library Friends’ groups, which is open to all library users and supporters, and works with Lambeth Library staff campaigns.
“Library Friends are voluntary groups that help library users to support their library and librarians. Lambeth’s 10 Libraries have active groups – and they always get bigger and busier when the service is under pressure!
“Lambeth also has an umbrella group, Friends of Lambeth Libraries, which brings together the groups from individual libraries. “Despite Lambeth council’s plan to support some libraries over others, Friends’ groups are working together to support the entire service, recognising that only an adequate and strong library service for the whole borough can meet the needs of our residents. “That is why we are Defend the 10.”
An exhibition of photography about the occupation of Carnegie library.
The Occupation of Carnegie came to symbolise, not just the shutting of a library, but also the closure of all front line services most used by the young, old and the vulnerable.
The documentary pictures by photographer Richard Baker span the occupation from the day of Carnegie’s forced closure by Lambeth Council on 31st March 2016, to the moment 10 days later when the Occupiers left the building peacefully and in celebration with thousands of Lambeth residents.
The exhibition is supported by The Friends of Carnegie Library and local businesses. The Campaign to save Lambeth’s libraries continues.
From 6.30pm, Tuesday 26th April Waterloo Action Centre 14 Baylis Rd, SE1 7AA (2mins walk from Waterloo station) until next Wednesday before moving to Ray’s Art Space in Loughborough Junction. (Source: Richard Baker)
*Lambeth Council hoofs out twenty local businesses from Carnegie Library in Herne Hill. Mike Urban, Brixton Buzz April 20th 2016
**Lambeth Archives remains closed as Lambeth library debacle continues. Mike Urban, Brixton Buzz April 12th 2016