WHO’S WHO

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
here.

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

LAMBETH’S EXHIBITION ASSESSED

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.

OBE FOR STELLA DUFFY

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.

The Carnegie Library’s Building

Lambeth have announced that they will be putting on an exhibition about the possible future uses of the building instead, it seems, of the public meeting they were promising for many months. The exhibition will be on Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 June. A copy of their flyer giving details is here.

The Friends' committee prepared a leaflet giving questions visitors to the exhibition may want to ask. This is here and here. In the meantime it is hoped that local people will appreciate that the Neighbourhood Library promised by Lambeth is defined by Lambeth to consist only of books, computers and Wi-Fi access in a room used for non-library purposes. A Neighbourhood Library does NOT INCLUDE a room or a part of a room set aside for library use. The Culture 2020 Report approved by Lambeth's Cabinet and, subsequently, full Council proposes that these books etc be located in a gym lounge. The initial floor plans disclosed recently show a library element mixed in with ‘flexible community space'.

Any further plans disclosed by Lambeth will need careful scrutiny. The current proposal is to let the whole building to Greenwich Leisure Limited as a Healthy Living Centre comprising a range of uses. They would not get just the basement for use as a gym.
Jeff Doorn, Chair

Response by the Friends of Carnegie Library committee to statements by the Carnegie Community Trust (CCT)

In a posting on their website dated 2nd June Carnegie Community Trust accuse the Friends' committee of lying, but there is no indication of when or where the statements objected to are alleged to have been made, and there is no distinction made between the Friends and Defend the Ten, a separate organisation.

If there is any assertion in anything written on behalf of the Friends which it is felt needs justification I would be grateful if this could be brought to my attention. We do usually give chapter and verse for anything we publish, and would be happy to remedy any apparent omission.

The CCT posting contains many more inaccuracies than we have time to correct at present. The matters concerned have already been dealt with in detail previously. However, I should mention some aspects which are likely to jump out at readers:

1. There seems to be an attempt to distract readers from the basic fact that Lambeth acknowledge that they have the money to run all their libraries but CHOOSE instead to spend this money on subsidising gyms. (Culture 2020 Report paragraph 5.8)

2. CCT refer to a proposal for an “endowment” fund and say this could have covered staff salaries. At no time was it suggested to the Friends that the fund could pay for library staff. We were invited to establish a volunteer-run library. This had already been rejected by our members in general meeting. No other Friends group would agree to volunteers replacing professional staff. (The proposal did not go ahead anyway because it was to be funded by selling off Waterloo and Minet Libraries which proved to be impractical.)

3. The CCT claim the Friends want only a library and nothing else. We have never said that; instead, we have consistently proposed developing the library for compatible wider use. The charity we set up with eight other user groups, Carnegie Library Association CIO, will do just that.