As the May Council Elections approach, Lambeth are becoming somewhat more informative. Campaigners for the library now need to keep up and intensify the pressure for reinstatement of our library.
The latest from Lambeth is:
• They have stopped vacillating about whether the gym operator, GLL, would use the ground floor. The gym definitely will be confined to the basement even though this will not be deep enough for users to raise their hands above their heads or jump.
• Before the Council Elections and possibly as early as mid-February, a library service will be provided in the two rooms either side of the main entrance lobby, which are mirror images of each other. The room on the left is the one which used to be divided by a stud partition to provide the Children's Library and the Art Gallery. One room would contain 18,000 books, leaving very little room for people. The other would contain computers and study space. There would not be any space for socialising or group activities. No staff would be based on site but a single Library Assistant or Librarian would visit for about two hours most days.
• Gym users would normally enter the gym at basement level using a card-in-a-slot machine. Additionally, GLL would have a reception desk in the main entrance lobby and the library would be open, though unsupervised, whenever the reception were staffed. This is expected to be as much as 70 hours a week for a time after the gym opens and GLL are trying to sell gym memberships but can be expected then to drop off, eventually to nothing. Additionally, Lambeth have arranged for GLL to staff the reception for 36 to 40 hours a week from the opening of the library until the gym opens a few weeks after the Elections.
• The Trust would have the main room as a hall to hire out or pay people to use. The public will not be allowed to see inside it until after the Elections. The kitchen and adjoining small meetings room are being converted into toilets for the users of the hall, leaving the building without a kitchen.
The gym, library and hall are all clearly not viable but the current plans are an improvement on what Lambeth, GLL and the Trust were saying previously. The Friends will continue the campaign for reinstatement of a proper library and hope that the campaign will have even more support than ever in the run-up to the Elections.
For the second year running, we are holding our Winter Fair in exile. From 1999 to 2015, the fair, spread over the public library rooms, grew to become the most popular one around, an unmissible event for people of all ages. With the library closed, we are continuing to stage a fun day for all, to show we are still here.
This year we will be in St Saviour’s Church Hall on Saturday 2 December, open from 11.00 – 3.00, with an array of community stalls, craft stalls, a raffle, refreshments, activities for children and a few surprises. Come along and show your support for our campaign to reopen Carnegie Library, not as a diminished so-called ‘neighbourhood library’ but with full service.
We understand St Saviour’s roof is in need of repair. This may restict our space a bit; but we will make the most of it. The lovely 1914 arts & crafts building was listed Grade II the same year (1981) as the library.
We have adopted the phoenix image this year as it symbolises rebirth and surmounting great obstacles. With it, we send a message to Lambeth Council in the words of Maya Angelou:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
The Carnegie Library Association has been set up by the Friends, in partnership with other library user groups, in order to apply to Lambeth for control of the library and its grounds through an asset transfer process. The Carnegie Library Association's aim is to reinstate the professionally-run library along with the community activities which were there before, plus new ones compatible with the library. Maximum use would be made of the whole building, including uses to raise money to subsidize the cost of providing the library service. It is really important that we are able to demonstrate as much local support as possible, particularly before the deadline for the bid which is 28th October. Please sign up here:
The Association is registered as a democratic Charitable Incorporated Organisation with limited liability and membership is free until the first AGM in March 2017, so you are not making any financial commitment.
RESOLVED TO BATTLE ON
Our Annual General Meeting on 17 March expressed a clear determination to continue our vigorous campaign in conjunction with Friends of Lambeth Libraries and the staff to prevent closure of Carnegie Library and other free public libraries in the borough. Angry that the Council's proposals will end up costing millions more than keeping the library as it is, a motion was proposed and passed unanimously:
"This meeting calls on Helen Hayes MP, all candidates for Mayor of London, and all candidates for the Lambeth/Southwark London Assembly seat to condemn the scandalous expenditure proposed for converting Carnegie and Minet libraries into gyms at a time of straitened public finances".
There was a motion of No Confidence in the Carnegie Community Trust as they are not a community organisation but a self-appointed group who do not represent or engage with any community groups. This passed by a large majority, the only votes opposed being from the two Trust members present.
A representative of one of the groups who meet in the library proposed a vote of No Confidence in the three Herne Hill ward councillors, asking them to stand down as they have ignored the views of their constituents. A member added that this also should apply to Jane Edbrooke in her Cabinet role. This motion and demand for all four to resign was carried unopposed.
The resolutions were copied to those concerned and the responses received are here. Approximately 60 members attended the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting a collection was made for UNISON’s strike fund, raising £257.51.
Jeff Doorn, Chair
There will be a rally at the library on the 6th February from 2pm, to oppose the council's plans to transfer the library to Greenwich Leisure Ltd, and to support the staff/community plans to continue the staffed library service. Speakers will include local author Adam Mars-Jones, and Tim O'Dell from UNISON.
Spin or Worse?
Our December bulletin has been published, with updates on Lambeth Council's plans for the library, and our alternatives: December Bulletin
A new site has been launched for the Lambeth Libraries campaign:
Defend the 10
This term was introduced by Lambeth in its Culture 2020 Report, which is available at
in the Full cabinet papers.
The report uses the following key definitions :-
"Healthy Living Centre" is a gym which has a lounge. 
"Neighbourhood Library" is a self-service facility in the gym's lounge offering "a small selection of books," , Wi-Fi access and computers. 
In other words a "neighbourhood library" would not be a library.
 Page 45 paragraph 7.9
 Page 154
 Page 30 paragraphs 5.21 and 5.22
Thank you to the 80 members who attended the Friends’ AGM on 18 March. Sorry the Gallery was so crowded; the number was even more than we had hoped for. With only a couple of dissenting voices, the meeting was overwhelmingly in agreement that we must keep our public library professionally staffed and continue all the activities which make it the successful hub of our community.
The following were elected to serve for the coming year:
Chair: Jeffrey Doorn
Vice Chair: Stephen Carlill
Secretary: Nicholas Edwards
Treasurer: Bob Goodrick
Committee members: Elizabeth Ochagavia, Jackie Plumridge,
Helen O’Rourke, Gulnar Hasnain,
Laura Swaffield, Olga Stelmakh,
Gordon Harkess, Dalvir Kaur.
I am grateful to Bob, Nick, Liz and Jackie for continuing to serve. It is a pleasure to have Stephen and Helen back; and we warmly welcome Gulnar, Laura, Olga, Gordon and Dalvir. Their wide interests, knowledge and skills will be invaluable.
As agreed by the meeting, we will press ahead with the arrangements for a consultative body for all library users, working in cooperation with our library staff.
The committee has met informally to sketch out the way forward, the first priority being our submission to Lambeth’s Culture 2020 consultation.