The council is launching a consultation on the future of cultural services in Lambeth. Included in this is a vision of how we might deliver library services in the future. We’re not alone, with big cuts to our funding from government, councils across the UK are grappling with these questions.
In 2012 we held a conversation with residents about libraries. They set out some exciting challenges on how we could roll out free access to books wider than ever before. They challenged us to use self serve technology, volunteers and community spaces to create new places in the heart of our neighbourhoods to borrow books and embrace reading.
But in 2013 we were told by central government we had to find another £90m of cuts.
Another round of reducing the opening hours of our 10 libraries, or making a small trim round the edges, isn't going to cut it. It won’t meet our budget challenge, and it won’t deliver a good enough service for you.
It doesn't extend our offer to areas where there's no provision despite high need and doesn't reflect that our town centre libraries are constantly packed with people reading, studying and learning.
Now Lambeth Council is launching a consultation which shares our vision for how we might deliver this. We welcome feedback on this vision and any alternative ideas you might have We want your help to promote and preserve the love of reading and learning in Lambeth.
Our vision - which we hope will stimulate debate and ideas - centres on;
* 5 town centre libraries where we'll work with volunteers to extend opening hours
* those town centre libraries supporting a wider Network of community lending libraries in community settings - like the successful one in Streatham Vale.
* community libraries like Carnegie potentially becoming community hubs - including community library provision.
This vision isn't new - it's the continuation of a conversation we've been having. But the pace needs to pick up to achieve the budget reductions that are now necessary.
We’ll have to make some tough decisions too. Some smaller libraries simply won’t be able to continue. This isn't easy, but I think that by 2020 we will have more places to borrow books, town centre libraries with longer than ever opening hours and importantly, more people reading than ever in Lambeth.
If you'd like to have your say, please visit: www.lambeth.gov.uk/culture2020consultation