LIBRARY CAMPAIGNERS SET TO TAKE ON THE GREENWICH LEISURE BUG – while kids will have a BFG party
LIBRARY CAMPAIGNERS are taking on the Big Unfriendly Giant tomorrow (Saturday) – while at the same time youngsters will be gathering at Brixton library for a ‘Big Friendly Read’.
At 2pm Defend the Ten campaigners will be at Brixton Recreation Centre, Brixton Station Road the local home of Greenwich Leisure which, say campaigners, “threatens to wreck libraries and see millions wasted on installing unwanted pay-to-use gyms in them.”
At 2pm, children gather at Brixton Library for a party to celebrate this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, the hugely successful scheme that keeps children entertained – and reading – through the summer holidays.
“This has been proved to completely prevent the ‘dip’ in reading skills that sets back progress until school starts again” say campaigners. “Numbers attending have grown spectacularly in Lambeth, year by year.”
This year’s ‘Big Friendly Read’ focused on Roald Dahl, including his popular BFG (Big Friendly Giant) book, now a film starring Mark Rylance.
Elsewhere, much damage has already been done to children, say campaigners.
“Last year saw 409 children complete the Summer Reading Challenge at Carnegie Library (the busiest children’s library in the borough) and another 196 at Minet Library.
“This year, both libraries were closed (costing more in security guards than keeping them open would have cost). The children had nothing.
“By closing Minet library, which served one of the most deprived areas of Lambeth, the council have robbed the community of access to a library service and to the life chances we know they provide.
“We have continued to challenge them on the impact on equality of their library closures. “Rather than listen they continue to keep the doors locked.
“Last year Waterloo Library had 248 children happily engaged on the Summer Reading Challenge.
“This year the new ‘neighbourhood library’ opened at the Oasis academy as the holiday started.
“Lambeth officials, fearing public protests, closed the real library a day earlier than announced – cancelling at short notice the Summer Reading Challenge launch party children had looked forward to.
“Staff did their best in the new Oasis mini-space with no room for activities and almost no staffing – but the result was that just SIX children completed the Challenge this year.
“According to Lambeth council and GLL, similar unstaffed mini-spaces should be open at Carnegie and Minet next summer…
“Going by this year’s experience, the outlook for children will be permanently unfriendly.
“The council tells us repeatedly that they must make savings in the face of government cuts but when it comes to our libraries, the facts speak for themselves:
“The cost of keeping Minet and Carnegie closed exceeds the cost of keeping them open!
“Signing a deal with leisure company GLL to install gyms in these libraries will cost millions!
“Rather than standing up for our communities in the face of austerity, Lambeth councillors prefer to do deals with property developers.
“They are happy with the changing face of Lambeth, but their spin hides the fact that Lambeth is now the most unequal borough in London,
“According to research from the Runneymede Trust! 50 per cent of young black males are unemployed in Lambeth – a shocking and shameful fact.”