9 July, 1906 -- a Carnegie library opened in Herne Hill, one of over 2,500 built around the world from donations by "the world's richest man" Andrew Carnegie.
Lambeth has been pursuing the current round of library closures on and off since 1999, saying that ten libraries should be reduced to five "Town Centre Libraries" or "Centres of Excellence," though in fact six of the ten libraries are threatened with permanent closure:
|Carnegie Library||Closed since March 2016. Proposed temporary funding as a gym, library and "church hall."|
|Durning Library||Temporarily reprieved from closure. No longer funded from the Libraries budget but instead funded one month at a time from an undisclosed Council budget.|
|Minet Library||A limited library service is being provided pending relocation of the borough's archives, which are housed in the same building.|
|Tate South Lambeth Library||As Durning Library|
|Upper Norwood Library Hub||Surviving on temporary funding from Croydon and Lambeth Councils which is due to expire two months after the Council Elections.|
|Waterloo Library||Currently housed in a small room temporarily available behind a cafe in an Evangelical Christian Centre.|
Public opposition has kept the Council at bay for the past 19 years and Defend the 10 are continuing a determined campaign to keep all the libraries.
Although Lambeth's current plans for our library are unworkable, Carnegie Library Association have produced a fully-costed business plan which uses the income-generating potential of the building to cover its costs and produce a surplus to buy in a library service from Lambeth in the spaces we had before closure. Lambeth have rejected the plan so far but the Association continue to offer it and make clear that they are ready to take over the whole building.
The current work to the basement will reduce its rental value because the basement office previously used by the library Home Visit Service would be lost. This loss would only be partly compensated for by the excavation increasing by 150% the lettable area of the windowless part of the basement. However, the overall amount concerned is only about £3 500 a year and not therefore of great importance.
Fortunately most of the changes Lambeth plan to the ground floor are reversible by a combination of voluntary and paid work. The necessary money should be easy to crowd fund because the Association has hundreds of members and many more local people want the library back on a long-term genuinely sustainable basis.
With the library closed, we are unable to browse reference material or borrow books about people or events commemorated this year. For the record, here are some examples:
Significant historical events include the Russian Revolution (1917). Among births to note are Italian painter Giotto (1267), Dutch Humanist Erasmus (1467), Jonathan Swift (1667), David Garrick and Horace Walpole (1717), Henry David Thoreau (1817), novelists Arnold Bennett and John Galsworthy (1867). Also born in 1867 were dramatist Luigi Pirandello, children’s book illustrator Arthur Rackman and sports coach & Herne Hill resident Sam Mussabini. Births in 1917 include Anthony Burgess, Arthur C Clarke, Eric Hobsbawm, Carson McCullers and John F Kennedy.
Jane Austen died in 1817, as did opera singer & Herne Hill resident Anna Storace. Poet Charles Baudelaire died 1867; actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and WW1 poets Edward Thomas and Arthur West died in 1917. Notable deaths in 1967 include author and editor J R Ackerley, who was born in Herne Hill, playwrights Joe Orton and Elmer Rice, poets John Masefield, Dorothy Parker, Carl Sandburg and Harlem Renaissance poet and dramatist Langston Hughes.
The Friends of Carnegie Library invite you to come to TEA WITH SHAKESPEARE. A celebration of Shakespeare’s Birthday in Words & Songs Performed by The Friends’ Musick in period costume. Directed by Marilyn Harper. Refreshments provided and all voluntary contributions gratefully accepted. The event will be opened by the Mayor of Lambeth at 3.30pm. Tea (Elizabethan style) will be served from 3pm.
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.