Please sign up now to show your support for saving the library for the community!

The Carnegie Library Association has been set up by the Friends, in partnership with other library user groups, in order to apply to Lambeth for control of the library and its grounds through an asset transfer process. The Carnegie Library Association's aim is to reinstate the professionally-run library along with the community activities which were there before, plus new ones compatible with the library. Maximum use would be made of the whole building, including uses to raise money to subsidize the cost of providing the library service. It is really important that we are able to demonstrate as much local support as possible, particularly before the deadline for the bid which is 28th October. Please sign up here:

Full name

The Association is registered as a democratic Charitable Incorporated Organisation with limited liability and membership is free until the first AGM in March 2017, so you are not making any financial commitment.


With our partners in the Carnegie Library Association CIO, the Friends are arranging two public meetings to discuss plans for the future. The announcement leaflet is


Survey forms are being delivered where possible and will also be available at the meetings for local residents, community groups and desk space hirers (former or potential).

The survey is online here

Alternatively, the survey forms are here: Residents survey,
Community groups survey,
Desk space survey. The forms can be filled in and emailed to us.
Please take part and have your say.
Please also help to spread the word by displaying the poster announcing the public meetings here.

Correspondence with the Leader of the Council

Both the Herne Hill Society and Village Ward Labour Party are concerned about the library. Both organisations wrote to the Leader, Lib Peck, and received replies which, at a quick glance, might appear satisfactory.
Combining the information provided in the replies with that from the June exhibition, the earlier correspondence with Lib on this site and the official report, the situation can be summarised as follows:

Child Protection

The main floor of the building, where books and computers will be located, will be left unstaffed most of the time.

Library Spaces

Study spaces would be provided each year in the run up to the school examinations but no space would be set aside for a library at other times. What the official report calls a "small selection of books" and some computers will be provided in a room used for non-library purposes. As at present, it will be possible to order books from other Lambeth Libraries and the borough as a whole will continue to have as many books in total as it did before our library closed.


Library staff would not be based at the building but one or more would visit for up to two hours most days and, in this time, he or she or they would be expected to conduct group activities.

Running Costs

The library is costing more closed than it would if it had stayed open but this was not considered when making the decision to close it.


When the building will be open to the public again is unknown but it will not be before Summer next year and might be much later. The first step, preparing a planning application, has not yet been taken.

The correspondence consists of:
• Letter from Herne Hill Society to Lib Peck dated 6th May 2016
HHS to Peck
• Her reply dated 24th May 2016
Peck to HHS
• Letter from Village Ward Labour Party to Lib Peck sent in May before her reply to the Herne Hill Society was received by them.
Village Ward to Peck
• Her reply to Village Ward Labour Party.
Peck to Village Ward


Some recipients of a four-page orange-coloured leaflet recently thought it came from Friends of Carnegie Library. It was NOT from the Friends, nor from any other supporters of our library. Our bulletins always carry our name and logo as above. The orange colour and strap line “The Next Chapter” are used by Carnegie Community Trust and its predecessors with links to Lambeth Council. Below we summarise who is who in relation to the library.

Carnegie Library Users Consultative Group comprises Friends of Carnegie Library and eight other groups who used the library.

We want reinstatement of our library as it was, including:

• Opening for at least 36 hours a week.
• Welcoming and knowledgeable library staff.
• The spaces we had, which accommodated adult and children's libraries and numerous group activities compatible with the library.
• The minimum number of books to offer a reasonable choice for all ages and tastes, that is, about 20,000.

Almost any reduction in hours, staff, space or book stock could be expected to reduce greatly the use of the library.

Carnegie Library Herne Hill Association is a democratically accountable Charitable Incorporated Organisation formed by the Users Consultative Group to take a transfer of the library from Lambeth Council. If you are in the Friends or another member of the Group you will shortly receive an invitation to apply for membership of the Association. If you are not in one of these groups please consider joining the Association anyway. In the first instance, please email [email protected] or write to the Association at 18 Herne Hill, London SE24 9QT stating your full name and address. Membership will be free until the first AGM in March 2017.

Lambeth Council first tried to close the library and sell it for redevelopment as flats in 1999. The Friends then formed to revitalise and promote the library, and led a successful campaign against closure.

Greenwich Leisure Limited operates most of the Council's Leisure Centres. Lambeth plan to grant them a rent-free lease of the library and then spend millions of pounds on structural alterations to the building and massively subsidising GLL's use of it until the 2018/19 financial year. The use would be:
• A gym in the basement.
• Exercise classes on the ground floor.
• Hiring spaces on the ground floor to local groups.
• A small selection of books and some computers somewhere on the ground floor. N.B. Lambeth call these books and computers a Neighbourhood Library. There would not be a room set aside for library use.
Under this plan the ground floor would be left unstaffed much of the time, which would preclude use by unaccompanied children, and few other vulnerable people would want to use such an apparently unsafe space.

Carnegie Community Trust consists of five individuals close to the politicians who control Lambeth Council. They originally came up with the idea of excavating the basement for a gym and their plans appear to be much the same as GLL's though they suggest that a room could be set aside for library use provided it is locked and inaccessible except when library staff are present. Lambeth are offering to provide library staff for up to 12 hours a week.

A detailed comparison of Carnegie Community Trust with Carnegie Library Association is

Doing the Sums

Lambeth's reasons for closing our library on 31st March were not financial.

Lambeth insist that our library was closed at the end of the 2015/16 financial year to save money. I cannot see any justification for this assertion. Except for trivial savings on utilities there has not so far been any reduction in expenditure. But Lambeth are paying for a security guard and foregoing the hire fees paid by desk space users, a total of about £2150 a week.

Before the closure the number of staff employed by Lambeth Libraries was reduced from 120 to 80, in response to the cuts; but the closure has not yet resulted in any further reduction. Eventually there might be a reduction equivalent to the three staff in our library, saving about £2,800 a week. But by then more desk spaces would no doubt have been in use if the library had remained open. There was also other income from the library and Lambeth have the cost of relocating the Home Visit Service. At most the saving from closing our library will be trivial.
Calculations of the above income and expenditure figures are here.
Stephen Carlill


The two-day exhibition on Lambeth’s and GLL’s plans for the future of the Carnegie (building, not library) showed that Lambeth’s plans are still at a very early stage. The display consisted of four panels which revealed little or nothing new; even the outline floor plans were the same as published two months ago. You can view the panels here: Carnegie exhibition.

Lambeth officers, local councillors and GLL representatives were on hand to answer questions; but visitors found a lack of consistency in the replies, and in some cases profound ignorance. The Friends had produced a double-sided leaflet listing concerns and questions visitors might like to ask. This is here and here.

Visitors were invited to leave comments on a postcard; we look forward to publication of these; what has been photographed and tweeted so far reveals strong opposition and disdain.

There are serious problems with these ill-conceived plans, and to insist on imposing them would be disastrous. Once again, we invite Lambeth to work with the Friends and Carnegie Library Association for a holistic, sustainable and popular development to benefit the whole community.

Carnegie Library Association awarded £1000

On Thursday 16th June, the Friend's charitable trust was awarded £1000 as a result of a competition run at the Charter School, where teams of students bid for funds for a charity of their choice. The photo shows the winning team, Rosa Beuzwal, Oliver and Ellie, with Jeff Doorn, chair of the Association and of the Friends. The funds will be used to develop the Association's business plans to run the Carnegie building and library as a community-led trust.


Congratulations to Stella Duffy, a keen supporter of the Friends, on being made an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Awarded for services to the Arts, the citation lists her as “Writer and Theatremaker”, which gives only a small idea of her many accomplishments.

Stella has long been associated with Carnegie Library, hosting workshops, giving readings and attending events over the years. As Director of Fun Palaces, she inspired the hugely successful Fun Palace Day at Carnegie Library and all Lambeth Libraries on 3 October 2015. More recently, she spoke at rallies and signed up 220 authors to a letter supporting libraries and opposing closures.

A full appreciation will appear in our next Newsletter. In the meantime, we salute our dear friend and neighbour on her well deserved honour.