Andrew Carnegie became the richest man in the world in March 1901, when he sold his steel business for $440 million, devoting his later life to world peace and philanthropy. This included over 2500 Carnegie Libraries, of which 660 were constructed in Britain. This illustrated talk explores Carnegie’s life and philanthropy.
The following statement has been produced by the committee to be included in the Project Options display currently on view in the Carnegie.
Please note that there will be a special general meeting for Wednesday 19 November at 6.00 for 6.30. This meeting is open to Friends members although non-members can attend if they join on the night. The Project Group and architects will present the options from 6.30, followed by Q&A. They will then depart at 7.30, and we shall have a further hour for discussion. Please make every effort to attend.
“Though the committee is unable at this stage to speak for our full membership on specific details, we cannot support any of the proposed options as they stand. Only the one which retains the library in its central position is a possible starting point for discussion; but it is highly problematic and would need a lot of work and comprehensive rethinking before it could be seriously considered. The other options are completely unacceptable in all respects. In particular, they would confine the library to a smaller, unsuitable space and begin the creeping closure of our library.
The Friends were represented on the Project Group, and the original options appraisal brief echoed our wish to open up the library for wider community use, with the library remaining central and any activities or hire linking with and supporting the core function of the library. Members meeting on 30 July were dissatisfied that the options appraisal is based largely on spatial considerations, with no reference to demand and supply in the area; they also found the financial appraisal incomplete on several grounds. Questions asked by the Friends and the responses received are on our website.
In any reconfiguration to accommodate further uses there should be maximum flexibility with minimum intervention. We are not satisfied that any of the proposed options fulfil this requirement. More detail is needed on the impact on our listed building. There is also an apparent lack of integration or cohesiveness as different elements: Library, Trust, rentable spaces are shown as completely separate and mutually exclusive.
Since 1999 we have worked to revitalise Carnegie Library and raise its profile, led a vigorous campaign to prevent closure and ensure its continued use. We have always insisted there be no marginalisation or diminishing of the library service. Monthly statistics consistently show increases in visits and loans. With the advent of WiFi, the Teen Zone, groups like Book at Breakfast and Ruskin Readers, demand for study tables is rising. It is essential there is sufficient space for these and other activities, and the stock of books and other material is maintained.
The Friends work cooperatively with library staff and management to facilitate and support events and activities, publicise and promote the library and all it has to offer. We will continue working to develop a proposal which will retain and enhance the library. This will include flexibility to accommodate out of hours hire as well as appropriate, compatible community and commercial uses throughout the building.”
Here are some questions from the Friends of Carnegie Library to the Community Hub Project Group about the options appraisal, with the Project Group’s answers.
The questions arose from an initial discussion meeting of the Friends on 30 July 2014. The Friends submitted them on 7 August and received replies on 19 August.
The Project Group thanks all volunteers for helping to deliver around 10,000 newsletters in Herne Hill ward and parts of Village and South Camberwell wards. This has been a great effort by local people, with the exercise being completed in under three weeks! Particular thanks go to the Friends for their contribution as many came forward to help. The newsletter has been well received in the area with positive responses and offers of help coming in on the ‘getinvolved’ email address. We are in the process of contacting these people to explore how best to take up their offers of help. A Big Thank You everyone !
An exhibition at Carnegie Library for the month of September 2014.
Julia Tant is a campaigner, writer and artist who lived and worked in Herne Hill, until recently suffering ill health.
Julia did not go to art school until she was 45, and completed her degree in Fine Art & Critical Studies from Central St. Martin’s aged 50. The subject matter of Julia’s work was frequently women, homosexuality, class and children. She helped organise the first women’s liberation conference in the UK. Continue reading
The Next Chapter for the Carnegie Library
An exciting new project has been launched to transfer the historic Carnegie Library building in Herne Hill from Lambeth Council to a new charitable trust to run it as a Community Hub. Driving forward this project will require lots of energy, ideas, skills and, above all, community support. So, as a first step a newsletter needs to be delivered throughout Herne Hill. Public consultation will then start in the Autumn on the architects’ options for the configuration of the space within the building.
Do you have an hour or two to spare to help with the delivery of these Newsletters? If so, please contact Carol Boucher on [email protected] or 020 7274 3176 / 07831 806573. All offers of help will be much appreciated and if you would like to assist the project further do register your interest at [email protected]