SIT-IN AT CARNEGIE LIBRARY – Protesters occupy building
The people of Lambeth have spoken – and occupied the Carnegie library in Herne Hill as Lambeth council shut it yesterday amid its hugely controversial plans to turn it into a glorified gym with books in it.
A statement from the bookworms and other library users occupying the Herne Hill building states:
We, the people of Lambeth occupying the Carnegie Library, call on Lambeth council:
1. To listen to the people they represent
2. To keep all Lambeth libraries fully open with professional library staff; the scrap their plans for closures and healthy living centres, and reverse their decision
3. To re-open the Carnegie and Minet Libraries with immediate effect, with all library staff, to continue to provide a full library service
4. To adopt the community/staff mutual plan which will keep all ten libraries fully operational as part of a full library service for the borough. This offers a creative, innovative solution in the face of cuts
5. To collaborate with all the Friends groups as set out in Lambeth policy
6. Not to transfer the Carnegie Library building, which was given for a library for the benefit of the community, to the ‘Carnegie Community Trust’ which does not represent the community.
The protest has attracted the attention of the national media, including BBC TV News and national newspapers.
By 4pm this afternoon a Lambeth security guard was not letting any protesters back in if they had left the library. “Up until now, people have been coming and going” one resident told News From Crystal Palace.
“Three policemen outside, not obstructing public, just there in case of trouble.”
A statement from the library supporters reads:
Lambeth council had planned to lock the doors of Carnegie Library to the public at 6.00.pm on Thursday night. Instead library users refused to leave and vowed to keep the library in the hands of the community.
A spokesperson for the stay-in protestors said “This is not Lambeth council’s library to close after 110 years, it belongs to the locality.
“We are staying here to publicise just what Lambeth’s Labour council is doing to our local libraries – ripping the heart out of them to turn them into unwanted gyms.”
Protestors have already festooned the Carnegie library with posters and banners showing the community will resist shutting our library. The aim is to turn the user-controlled Carnegie library into a beacon of resistance to library cuts and closures across Lambeth and the country.
Backstory: In early March Lambeth Council announced it was pushing ahead with its unpopular Culture 2020 library plans which involved library closures and turning some, like Carnegie, into gyms with a few unstaffed bookshelves. They rejected the Head of Library’s alternative plan for a staff/community mutual which would have saved all ten libraries.
Current council plans for Carnegie involve planning a massive excavation in the basement of the library to turn it into a gym space. Carnegie Library is a Grade 2 listed building. Minet library is also closing its doors today as a lending library, with plans again to turn it into a gym. Waterloo library is closing as well to be sold off at a future date.
Consultations have shown no support for the council’s gym plans and led to growing protests and demonstrations led by Defend the Ten libraries campaign (http://defendthe10-lambeth.org.uk/).
It forced one concession in early March with Durning and Tate South Lambeth Libraries being spared the fate of being turned into gyms.
The Upper Norwood Joint Library is having all professional library staff withdrawn on 30th April to become a “self-service” library. A quarter of library staff have been pushed into taking redundancy.”
An Upper Norwood Library Trust spokeswoman told News From Crystal Palace: “Lambeth is not closing the library on April 30th.
“Lambeth and Croydon are transferring the building to UNLT and we will keep it open, facilitate and run activities and build financial sustainability while Lambeth will continue to provide a library service within the building.
“The Trust are currently negotiating with Lambeth as to what that provision will consist of.”
A Lambeth council spokesman told News From Crystal palace today (April 1st): “These protesters are misleading residents and the public – Carnegie Library is NOT closing for good and we are one of the few areas of the country that has found a way to maintain a library service in all our current locations
“The building will re-open 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.
“It is unfortunate that a small number of people have decided to be obstructive, especially as Lambeth council has worked incredibly hard to minimise the impact of the cuts on Lambeth libraries.”
(See: LIBRARY CAMPAIGNER’S ANGRY RESPONSE TO LABOUR MAYORAL HOPEFUL in separate story – NFCP)
UPPER NORWOOD JOINT LIBRARY
In response to the following question from News From Crystal Palace to Lambeth council earlier this week:
“News from Crystal Palace have received a press release from the Friends of Carnegie Library, the final paragraph of which reads:
‘The Upper Norwood Joint Library is having all professional library staff withdrawn on 30th April to become a “self-service” library. A quarter of library staff have been pushed into taking redundancy.
‘Please could Lambeth confirm / deny / comment on this?’
a Lambeth council spokesman issued the following reply:
“We are proud of the fact that we are able to keep library services open in ten locations across Lambeth. “Under severe budget pressures, we obviously have to make sure our services are sustainable and that we are making the most of every resource we have.
“As a result, we are focusing on the six town centre libraries that see the most use – maintaining their excellent service – while two of our other, smaller library buildings will incorporate a wider offer to include health and fitness facilities.
“This allows us to keep the buildings open and continue to provide self-service library services, IT facilities and study space. “Residents in every part of the borough will still have access to dedicated librarians, our extensive stock of books and resources, the Lambeth’s archives and space to work.”