Latest news

First anniversary of the Carnegie Occupation


250 local people turned out on April Fool’s Day to ridicule the crazy closure of the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill.  Banners and fancy dress made the point.

Speakers included comedian Jeremy Hardy and authors Stella Duffy OBE,Toby Litt and Barbara Ellis.  The crowd made a human chain around Carnegie Library as a symbol of protection.

The fun, family event was a huge success. Read more here.

The Peoples Audit libraries chapter is now released and shows that Lambeth Council has serious questions to answer over its baffling libraries-into-gyms plan. Read it here

Campaign Latest

  • First Anniversary of the Carnegie Occupation 250 local people turned out on April Fool’s Day to ridicule the crazy closure of the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill.  Banners and fancy dress made the point.  Speakers included comedian Jeremy Hardy and authors Stella Duffy OBE,Toby Litt and Barbara Ellis. But the loudest applause was for Rachel Heywood, the sole Labour councillor (out of Lambeth’s ...
  • Lambeth Peoples Audit: the real story of our libraries The People’s Audit team of volunteers in Lambeth have been working for many months to piece together what has really been going on at Lambeth Council and the background to its unpopular decisions. Read the recently released people’s audit chapter on libraries here: Download Lambeth peoples Audit libraries chapter Laura Swaffield from Friends ...
  • Planning permission granted for GLL to turn Carnegie library into a gym! Despite more than 300 objections from local people an library users, the council’s planning applications committee gave the go ahead to GLL to turn the much loved and needed library into an unwanted gym with an unstaffed ‘library’. So…our campaign against the council’s scandalously expensive and library destroying plans continues….   ...

Regular events

At Brixton Library: Fortnightly campaign meetings at Brixton library ALL WELCOME

At Carnegie Library: Carnegie Chess club – hosted at the library for many years – continues on the steps of of the library (weather permitting), 2pm Saturdays. Wednesday 7pm: weekly get-together for supporters, yellow ribbon tying on the railings.

At Minet Library: Fortnightly gardening, banner making and music outside the library and a chance to meet the Friends’ group. 11am Saturdays.

!!! Don’t Steal Our libraries t-shirts are available £5contact us at

About our campaign to save Lambeth’s libraries

In October 2015 Lambeth Council has announced it would decommission half of our libraries. Minet, South Lambeth, Durning, Upper Norwood, Carnegie and Waterloo

It was proposed that Minet, Carnegie and Tate South Lambeth libraries should be turned into gyms, run by leisure centre contractor GLL. The proposal was for these to have so-called ‘lounges’ with a small selection of books – but no staff. Upper Norwood Joint Library would also lose its staff. Lambeth is calling these unstaffed spaces ‘neighbourhood libraries’. We do not accept that such provision can be called libraries and therefore have been campaigning against these closures. We predicted that the remaining libraries, already under pressure, will become overcrowded, staff and book stock will be reduced.


Much has happened since October last year and there is still a lot to campaign for. Tate South Lambeth received a stay of execution after residents used a consultation as well as protests and petitions to express overwhelming opposition to the conversion to a gym. However its future, and the future of Durning Library also in the North of Lambeth remains uncertain.


Again, following campaigning and in the face of a local byelection, Upper Norwood Library had its lifetime extended, but the building has been handed to a trust and there will be only one librarian instead of five.



1st April marked the day when the doors of the historic and loved Minet and Carnegie libraries would close to the public. With communities unable to accept their closure, Carnegie library was occupied in what became a high-profile action that shamed the decision makers. The occupation received overwhelming local support and library campaigners far and wide linked their own struggles to that action.



Minet and Carnegie Libraries remained closed during the crucial exam period and throughout the summer holidays when thousands of children were denied access to their much loved Summer Reading Challenge. Defendthe10 are still fighting for common sense to prevail and for these libraries to be re-opened to the public. Recent FOI requests have shown that it costs more for the libraries to be closed than open to the public. Read more in an article by Peter Walker for the Guardian. Other FOI requests have shown the that Lambeth’s plans for the gyms and unstaffed libraries are in disarray. These buildings that belong to the public have their doors locked and expensive security arrangements in place to keep local communitities out. Local Labour Party Councillor Rachel Heywood dared to speak up for the libraries and for common sense. From her colleagues in the Council she received a 6 month sanction; from local people and library users she has gained much support and respect.

Lambeth had put its plans for the gyms on hold until while they explored options for the location of the Lambeth Archives (currently at Minet library). All the more reason to re-open the locked libraries. Unfortunately however they are showing no signs of ditching their hugely expensive plan to spend millions on a deal with leisure company GLL to turn our libraries into gyms. A planning applications committee meeting, sited miles away from Carnegie library and the community it serves, has granted permission to GLL to begin work at Carnegie library, despite the  hundreds of objections submitted. We are clear that there is no future for a library service if this goes ahead. Quite a part from the structural damage to the building and the garden, having an unstaffed space with books and computers in a fee-paying gym is not a library and in no way provides a library service.

Waterloo library closed its doors on the very day of the Summer Reading Challenge launch party for children! It has been replaced by an almost unstaffed facility in the Christian Oasis Centre. The Upper Norwood library building has been handed over to a trust and has the equivalent of one librarian now. Like all the smaller libraries its funding is set to finish in 2018.

Even in a time of cuts, we do not believe that closing libraries is sensible or necessary. The library service is of immeasurable value yet costs so little. We are dedicated to resisting these plans and coming up with alternatives of our own. An alternative plan by Lambeth’s own head of libraries which would have achieved the savings the council wanted to make and kept all 10 libraries open was first ignored, and then rejected by Lambeth Council. They said it would take too long! Nearly a year since the closure of two of our libraries they have failed to provide their own plan, have actually saved nothing and are perversely still proceeding to spend millions on a dodgy deal with GLL. Meanwhile our communities are denied services in the most deprived area of the borough.

Our libraries—which last year had 1.3 million visits—provide a vital service, helping people to access information, benefits, government services as well as books, the Internet and activities for children. Libraries are essential for access to information and education. With Minet and Carnegie closed, the remaining library spaces- at Streatham, Clapham, Brixton and at the small temporary library in West Norwood – are even more under pressure than usual.

We are library users and staff working together to save Lambeth’s library service.

Contact us at:

Come to one of our fortnightly public meetings or other events
See the events page

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Poster downloads

Sign the campaign petition petition

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