Your committee are keen to see all Friends of the library campaigning to keep Lambeth’s funding for the library run by professional library staff. Our efforts will be most effective if they are coordinated with those of the Friends of the other libraries affected. Discussions on how to proceed are in progress and we hope to have some news in this respect shortly.
A letter has been received from the Secretary of the Shadow Trust Board which is trying to arrange a takeover of the building contrary to the Friends’ aims and opposition expressed by members at general meetings. It reiterates the Board’s position that if the takeover succeeded the library would be excluded from the community space and only accommodated somewhere on site as a commercial letting, on the same terms as business users in the building. As there has never been any possibility of Lambeth funding rent, the Board are, in effect, insisting that the library will close. The suggestion that the Friends run a library is impractical for the same reason. Funding to pay rent for a library is not available from grant-making bodies and the Friends could not raise the necessary income elsewhere. The market rent would be £11 a square foot. For example, the rent on what is currently the children’s library alone would be nearly £10,000 a year.
The Board suggests that funding could be available from an “Endowment Fund.” However, little, if any, money is likely to be available from this and there is no possibility of it funding rent. Set out below are:
- The Board’s letter
- An analysis of the fund by our previous Chair. This has been circulated to the Friends of other libraries and there appears to be a broad consensus that it is accurate
- A summary of our proposals and the competing proposals from the Board
Lambeth Community Library Fund
Page 17 of “Cultural Services by 2020” tells us that Lambeth are 'proposing' to create a fund which 'will provide between £350,000 and £450,000 revenue per year in perpetuity.'
Like all content of Lambeth documents, this needs to be read with care. It does not say that the council will make any commitment about how long the fund will exist. I have heard that when answering questions from staff, Cllr Edbrooke disclosed that Lambeth would have discretion to terminate the fund, apparently at any time, and take back the money for use for any purpose of the local authority.
Lambeth would also control what grants are made from the fund. There is no suggestion, so far as I can see, that community libraries rather than groups carrying on activities in libraries or other locations will receive grants from the fund. The only commitment is to “support proposals to access the fund.” I suspect that this would be support for access by groups using those libraries or any other location in Lambeth.
If Lambeth controls the duration of the fund and the money coming out, I can see only one difference of substance between setting up the fund and Lambeth simply keeping the money and making grants. This is where the “in perpetuity” becomes very relevant. The implication is that the pot of money for making grants will be limited to the yield from the long-term investment of £10 million. Income of this type is normally expected to increase over the years, suggesting that Lambeth are expecting no more
than £350,000 a year initially and possibly somewhat less. The yield on UK Government bonds is currently no more than 2% per annum and the current yield on the UK stock market, as measured by the FTSE “All Share” index, is 3.2% p.a. These yield figures do not take into account management charges, which investment managers usually deduct from the income.
Grants would be for “Literacy development and the love of reading, including the early years reading programme” suggesting that a substantial sum from each year’s income would be used to replace existing funding for these purposes. We might reasonably wonder whether the amount of income remaining would be large enough to justify the work involved in applying for grants.
The Competing Proposals
The Shadow Trust Board’s
|Now that the libraryhas been refitted with bookcases etc on wheels, making the public spaces more flexible:||Banish the library from the public areas and, accordingly, strip out the refit. (The “B&Q shelving...is what happens when decisions are made by people lacking the skills and understanding of how to work with an architecturally significant building.”)|
|Broaden the range of community use in ways which are complementary to the existing community spaces in Herne Hill and the proposed redevelopment of the stable block in Ruskin Park.||Duplicate other local provision by competing:|
|Provide a library service as part of the community use of the public areas, without charging rent.||Accommodate a library somewhere “on site” but only as a commercial letting paying the same rent and service charges as business users.|
|Continue to provide the Home Delivery Service, the library service for the housebound, from a room in the basement.||Discontinue this service, at least from the Carnegie, and try to let out the room.|
|Continue the existing informal arrangements for ongoing consultation with individuals and groups and augment these with a formal users’ consultative committee. Broaden the committee’s membership as more groups use the public spaces and eventually form a representative body to take a transfer of the building.||Never consult users of the building on the arrangements for governance. Instead get Lambeth to appoint trustees who would not be accountable to local people. Transfer the building to the trustees.|
|Continue with day-to-day management of the building by the library manager as part of her duties.||Employ administrative staff and provide them with one or more offices in the building.|
|Lambeth would bear the cost of staffing to provide a professional library service. This is £125,000 a year. Other costs can be covered by rents and other income from the building.||Total costs without a library service would exceed £150,000 a year and rents would cover about half, leaving a deficit of about £75,000 a year.|
 Email from the Board’s Secretary 14 January 2015
 Presentation by the Board to the Friends on 19 November 2014
 Included in the Presentation and stated to be “the preferred option”
 The Board’s Memorandum of Understanding dated 26 October 2014
 Carnegie Library Options Appraisal Report 11 July 2014 paragraphs 5.2 and 5.3
 The room numbered 3 on the plans to ibid
 Meeting of the board on 5 February 2015
 Lambeth’s Libraries Budget Comparison 2013/14 to 2014/15
 Ibid and A Review of the Carnegie Project Group’s Proposals pp10-11 and 13, available on the Friends’ website
 The Carnegie Library Community Hub Project Options Appraisal Report 11 July 2014 paragraph 5.5
 The said review p13