Writing to Councillors

Lambeth has ten libraries. A secure future is promised to three, one in each Parliamentary constituency, with staffing by a combination of paid professionals and volunteers. The other seven, including Carnegie, are threatened with closure.

The Council suggest that what they call "community libraries" without paid staff could be provided to replace the Carnegie and other libraries. They give as an example a community library recently opened in Streatham Vale. This is 309 books in an alcove in a cafe. There is no community involvement. The Carnegie has 17,632 books.

Lambeth has a statutory duty to provide a library service and made an assessment of the need for libraries when formulating the Culture 2020 proposals. The area identified as most in need of a library is St Martin's Estate and Lambeth are now providing a small "pop up library" for three hours a week, on Monday mornings.

We must not be distracted by talk of community libraries or statutory duties. Equally, we need to reject suggestions that with funding from charities the Carnegie building could be used for community purposes after closing the library. These community uses are never specified and no charity would fund a library or other activities promoting literacy in a former library building. They would notice that that is a public library, which ought to be funded by the Council.

A Shadow Trust Board, dominated by Lambeth Labour activists, has been set up to push the idea of continuing community use. They suggest that the Friends rent some of the commercial space in the building and use that to run an all-volunteer library. We could not fund enough space or recruit and train sufficient volunteers to make this worthwhile.

Please write to the three Herne Hill Ward councillors before 13th July, when Lambeth's Cabinet is expected to make a decision on withdrawing funding. Please insist that the Carnegie continue to be funded to provide
• a professionally-staffed library
• open for at least as many hours as the current 36 a week, and
• containing as least as many books as at present.
They are Jim Dickson ([email protected]), Jack Holborn ([email protected]) and Michelle Agdomar ([email protected]). Also, please copy in our MP, Helen Hayes ([email protected]), who is in favour of keeping the library.

Personal testimony is always impressive and you may therefore wish to say why you yourself value the library. Also, you might like to pick up on some of the matters pointed out in the Culture 2020 submissions made by the Friends and the Herne Hill Society (links are on this page: http://friendsofcarnegielibrary.org.uk/2015/04/responses-to-culture2020-consultation/).


From 4 June 2015, the library will be open on Thursday afternoons from 1.00 – 6.00pm in addition to its normal opening hours. This will allow for greater use, and in particular, give students revising for exams an additional facility for homework, research, computer use and free Wi-Fi.
This is welcome news because for years, Friends of Carnegie Library have been calling for longer opening times following the reduction from 34 to 16 hours a week from 1997 and the partial restoration to 31 from 2003.
With all the events and activities now on offer, and the friendly, welcoming library staff, statistics for membership, visits and loans have been growing by leaps and bounds. Add the recent refurbishment and attractive new furniture, plus a growing demand for yet more activities and it was clear an increase in opening hours was needed.

This extension of our public library hours to 36 a week comes at no extra cost to Lambeth, as it is covered by normal staff salaries. The extra five hours should boost the service and encourage even more visits.
Despite this good news, the entire service at the Carnegie is under threat. The results of the Culture 2020 consultation responses and Lambeth’s reaction are expected to be published within the next two months.
If the council decided to press ahead with its proposals to close two libraries and withdraw all funding from three others, including Carnegie, we would lose our professional library staff. It would then be impossible to provide anything like the current level of service, either in terms of opening hours, number and range of books, other material, events and activities; and the library as we know it would close.
To help prevent this, please lobby your councillors and if not already a member, join the Friends and the library.

Dulwich Festival Artists Open House

Exhibition open until 31st May.

Pleasure and Beauty: six contemporary artists at the Carnegie Library Gallery. An exhibition of paintings, book works, prints and sculpture. Alison Bickmore, Sumi Perera, Julia Langley, Jane Langley, Jason Shuttleworth and Shane Greeves.

Private View 6pm - 9pm Friday 15th May (Italian Buffet from Home Cooking SE24).

Artist's talk Saturday 16th May 11:30am - 12:30 pm.

Tea with Shakespeare, Saturday 25th April


The Friends of Carnegie Library invite you to come to TEA WITH SHAKESPEARE. A celebration of Shakespeare’s Birthday in Words & Songs Performed by The Friends’ Musick in period costume. Directed by Marilyn Harper. Refreshments provided and all voluntary contributions gratefully accepted. The event will be opened by the Mayor of Lambeth at 3.30pm. Tea (Elizabethan style) will be served from 3pm.


Thank you to the 80 members who attended the Friends’ AGM on 18 March. Sorry the Gallery was so crowded; the number was even more than we had hoped for. With only a couple of dissenting voices, the meeting was overwhelmingly in agreement that we must keep our public library professionally staffed and continue all the activities which make it the successful hub of our community.

The following were elected to serve for the coming year:

Chair: Jeffrey Doorn
Vice Chair: Stephen Carlill
Secretary: Nicholas Edwards
Treasurer: Bob Goodrick

Committee members: Elizabeth Ochagavia, Jackie Plumridge,
Helen O’Rourke, Gulnar Hasnain,
Laura Swaffield, Olga Stelmakh,
Gordon Harkess, Dalvir Kaur.

I am grateful to Bob, Nick, Liz and Jackie for continuing to serve. It is a pleasure to have Stephen and Helen back; and we warmly welcome Gulnar, Laura, Olga, Gordon and Dalvir. Their wide interests, knowledge and skills will be invaluable.

As agreed by the meeting, we will press ahead with the arrangements for a consultative body for all library users, working in cooperation with our library staff.

The committee has met informally to sketch out the way forward, the first priority being our submission to Lambeth’s Culture 2020 consultation.

Report from 2015 AGM

Thanks to everyone that came to our AGM on the 18th March, there were over 70 people there, the largest AGM we have had. By a large majority, attendees approved the nominated committee and our plans for opposing Lambeth Council's library closures and cuts, and our plans for a community-led management of the library in case Lambeth goes ahead with cuts to the Carnegie.

Apart from completing the Lambeth consultation to oppose the closures, you can also help our campaign by emailing Lambeth at [email protected] to tell them why you oppose their proposals, and sign the libraries petition at: libraries petition

It may also be useful to email the Herne Hill councillors:
Herne Hill councillors
and the prospective parliamentary candidates for Dulwich and West Norwood, to ask them to oppose the cuts:
Helen Hayes, Labour Party,
Rashid Nix, Green Party,
Resham Kotecha, Conservative Party. There will be an election hustings organised by the Herne Hill Forum on Thursday 16th April.

The FoCL committee have put together some guidelines for responding to the consultation: CULTURE 2020 CONSULTATION Guidelines.

Please watch this site for further news and updates on the campaign.