Carnegie Library in Herne Hill has been occupied by protestors since Friday 1st April, who have made a number of claims about the future of the Lambeth Council building.
It is important to set the record straight. Carnegie Library will re-open in early 2017 as a Healthy Living Centre with a refurbished neighbourhood library, new computers, the same book stock and study space. It will also be open for longer hours.
Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said,
There have been thorough discussion with residents and community groups about Lambeth Libraries – both in public and at private meetings.
We understand that people are passionate about this issue, but it’s a simple fact – there is less money to go round – so savings have to be made.
These campaigners are entitled to voice their concerns, but who will protest for the children in care and the vulnerable pensioners if the cuts are made to their services instead?
Lambeth council has got to find £238million in savings between 2011 and 2018 which equates to half of its core funding.
In this financial environment, Lambeth's libraries budget will be concentrated on the borough’s town centre libraries, which attract 80% of visits. Carnegie Library only attracts two per cent of the borough’s library users.
The council will take appropriate action to ensure the safety of those who have occupied the building, and to also ensure the listed building is not damaged.
Cllr Edbrooke said,
Despite our financial challenge we are one of the few areas of the country that has found a way to maintain a library service in all our current locations.
It is unfortunate that a small number of people have decided to be obstructive, especially as Lambeth Council has worked incredibly hard to minimise the impact of the cuts on Lambeth libraries.
We are proud of the fact that we are able to keep library services open in ten locations across Lambeth.
Residents in every part of the borough will still have access to dedicated librarians, our extensive stock of books and resources, the Lambeth’s archives and space to work.