Over the last few weeks, proposals for Carnegie library have understandably generated a great deal of passion and concern but that has not always been helpful in presenting the facts.
Future plans for Carnegie Library
Carnegie Library closed on 31 March. It will reopen in early 2017. The reason for the closure is to ensure that we can guarantee a permanent future for Carnegie befitting its over 100 year history, despite pressure from huge Tory cuts to Lambeth council's funding.
When it reopens, Carnegie will offer residents community & business space, a gym, and most importantly a library. The library service will:
- Have longer opening hours, likely to be almost double the current opening hours.
- Offer the same range of books and other materials as currently offered, including children’s books
- Make available computers for use by all library users
- Have desk space for independent work and study
- Provide space for clubs to meet and for community activity to run
Myths about Carnegie
Unfortunately, there have been a lot of accusations made about the changes to Carnegie which have caused concern for residents.
There will no longer access for children?
There will continue to be access for children, despite claims from some campaigners. The library will have children’s books and activities for children and children and their parents / carers will be able to use the library services and a wide range of clubs and activities.
The gym is expensive & you will have to pay for the library?
Greenwich Leisure Limited, the social enterprise that run Lambeth’s leisure services, will run the Healthy Living Centre so it will be at the usual council rates. The library will remain free.
The library will occupy a smaller space?
We understand that local people are particularly concerned that the library will be shoehorned into a few bookcases. This is not true. Indeed, the Council’s preferred option is that the gym can use the unoccupied basement of the building. That would mean that there would be no reduction in overall space for community use, which will include the library service.
The building will be unstaffed?
There will be staff in the building at all times. Library outreach staff will visit on a very regular basis to refresh books and other stock as well as run activities.
What happens next?
First we need the occupation of the library to stop so that we are not spending money on security but on improving local facilities.
Second, there will be an opportunity for residents to give comment on the detailed plans to the design in the coming weeks. For the basement option to go ahead, the council will need to apply for planning permission.
Third, we will work with local groups to ensure their activities and ideas are included in the new design and operation of the building. And we hope that the local community trust, which has been developing a business case for the building, works closely with residents so that they are in a position to take over the lease.
While Carnegie remains closed the nearest libraries for residents are Brixton Library (10 minutes away on the bus) and West Norwood Library (20 minutes away on the bus).
Why change Carnegie?
We know changing such a valued local service as Carnegie library is a difficult choice and has caused upset and concern from a passionate group of residents and union activists.
However Lambeth has much less money to spend on our services. The government has slashed our funding by 56%. And we have to find another £55 million in savings in just the next two years.
That means tough choices. We believe it also means standing up for the people that often don’t have the backing of campaigners such as the elderly person who needs home support or the vulnerable child waiting for adoption.
But we have also been clear it means doing things differently rather than just closing buildings and services. Unlike the many other local authorities across the country we are committed to providing a library service in ten buildings across Lambeth: the same number as now.
Cllr Jane Edbrooke,
Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods
This is an edited version of a Council letter sent to residents in Herne Hill Ward. You can find out more information at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/lambeth-libraries-faq