Public meeting on the Carnegie’s future, 16th November

Lambeth Council's Cabinet has approved plans to convert the library into a "healthy living centre" based on a fee-paying gym with a "small selection of books" in the gym's lounge. There would not be any library staff; it is unclear whether the gym would be staffed. The conversion works are estimated to take at least 9 months and close the building for most of 2016. The Friends are holding a public meeting on Monday 16 November at 6.30 for 7-8.30pm in the Carnegie, to discuss the plans, and our work to oppose these and to promote alternatives.

Here are the slides from the meeting: Friends of Carnegie Library(1)

We will be posting more information on the campaign shortly. Thanks to everyone for your support!

One thought on “Public meeting on the Carnegie’s future, 16th November

  1. Dear Friends of Dulwich Library:
    I would like to make a proposal of a possible way to introduce a commercial operation to the Carnegie Library building and use the funds from leasing it to support a continued library service.
    The current idea of using the building for a gym and leisure centre is bound to fail commercially. It is too close to the excellent facilities at Brockwell Lido, which are an asset to the neighbourhood, and would only detract from the centre there. It would lose money unless it had a peppercorn rent and maybe even financial support from Lambeth. So what would Lambeth gain by this? And of course it would make a real library service there impossible.
    The key is to confine the library’s opening hours to the daytime, say 10 to 5 pm on Wednesday through Sunday.
    Then the space could be used in the evening for a restaurant, an upscale restaurant that would open to its clientele from, say, 6 pm. A restaurant would have a better chance of making money than a gym. There are restaurants opening on a weekly basis these days in Brixton and Herne Hill, and they appear to be attracting crowds. The library is an elegant building, and a library theme with books on the walls only adds to that. (I’m sure you’ve seen bookshelves in upscale pubs that add to their appeal.) Shelves of books could also be useful as dividers to provide some semi-private space for diners. The idea of combining library and restaurant would get a lot of publicity and attract reviewers and potential clientele.
    Yes it would take some clever remodeling and some juggling by both sides. The large space in the basement or the spaces upstairs could hold a kitchen and storage and restaurant offices, and librarian’s office. The space dedicated to library services would have to be shifted around and perhaps reduced, with children’s areas, files, DVDs, PCs and those other services incompatible with a restaurant space confined to one of the side rooms and/or moved upstairs.
    I realise that the restaurant business is inherently risky, but the rent could be low to start – enough to cover the salary of at least one librarian and regular renewal of library stock plus utilities and maintenance costs, so that the Carnegie is self-sustaining on a modest basis. Then if the business proves successful, the lease could include a clause that provides for the rent to rise by a reasonable percentage of revenue after a few years, and maybe Lambeth could actually earn some revenue as well as keep the library.
    Please consider this as a possible option for the future of the Carnegie. I have lived near and used the library for 20 years. It would be a shame to lose it, and I see how families, schoolchildren and others rely on it as well.

    [The Friends consider that this might be difficult to operate, and would conflict with the similar plan for the Stable Block in Ruskin Park. Noise for neighbours and library residents is also a factor, likewise parking. Our business plan is looking at a wide range of options based on compatibility and sustainability.]

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