MULTITUDE OF IDEAS AS LIBRARIES CAMPAIGN CONTINUES
A wide variety of ideas for further action over Lambeth council’s controversial library plans were put forward at a meeting of 100 library campaigners at the Tate library, Brixton last night (Thursday).
People attending were urged to write to the Department of Culture (DCMS) which is investigating complaints in accordance with the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964; to Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes; and Greenwich Leisure Ltd which wants to build gyms in two of the libraries.
It transpired that in another part of the country the DCMS looked at library closures, had not heard from any user group and thought no-one was bothered. Helen Hayes had only received 100 letters so far – more needed to be sent, the meeting was urged
Laura Swaffield, who chairs Friends of Lambeth Libraries as well as the national Library Campaign, said: “We’ve made the mistake so far of relying on accurate information and reasoned debate – which didn’t get us very far.”
She highlighted what had occurred so far: “2,000 people going on a protest march, 220 authors signing a petition – and news coverage like I have never seen for any library protest.*
“The council are still incapable of listening and have made a complete fool of itself – which is useful for us. “It’s shown itself up in a way it’s never been shown up before.”
The meeting heard a call to establish why the ‘Community Staff Mutual’ plan for the borough’s libraries – the “most viable” proposal on the table -had been turned down.
Other calls included boycotting Greenwich Leisure Ltd across the board (many of whose facilities locally are used by the borough’s 13,000 students); and not voting for Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the upcoming Mayoral elections.
This did not meet with universal agreement. One campaigner said she would be voting for Sadiq Khan because the alternative was Zac Goldsmith.
There were calls to reach out to other campaigns such as the housing campaigners who had attended the previous night’s full council meeting.
Audit: At the end of June there would be a two-week audit of the council’s books. “If there are any auditors or accountants who want to give us a hand with that from a libraries perspective, that might be interesting” the meeting heard.
Other ideas included a mobile photographic exhibition of the Carnegie occupation being mounted outside all 10 of the borough’s libraries. One lady suggested getting people living opposite Labour councillors to put “******* great banners in their windows” saying ‘Save the Libraries’.
Campaigners had met Lambeth Cllr Florence Eshalomi (formerly Nosegbe) who is standing as Labour GLA candidate for Lambeth and Southwark. “We asked her to find out various things. “Most of the meeting was spent briefing her about what is really happening” the meeting was told.
There were complaints from the audience that the archives at Minet library – which remain open – could not be accessed because there were not enough security guards to protect them. (“We had seven here for the march on Saturday” said one person.)
Other comments included: “The worst thing we could do now is to let up the pressure…..”Our local campaign is now a national campaign…and: “We’ve got our eyes on the prize.”
Council leader Cllr Lib Peck was giving a talk next Monday at the Woodlawns day centre in Leigham Court Road. (She may get a bigger turnout than expected – Ed.)
*Laura highlighted News From Crystal Palace, the Financial Times, the i – in that order – and a “wonderful piece by Mark Steel. “I’ve never seen anything like it” she added.
(“If librarians and steelworkers wanted state bail-outs, they should have done something useful – like bankers
“In any case the bankers deserved to be bailed out, as they couldn’t possibly anticipate that if they kept taking money it might eventually run out, whereas steelworkers have caused their own downfall by not being Chinese.” Mark Steel, The Independent, Thursday 31 March 2016 – Ed.)