LIBRARY OCCUPATION: Call for Lambeth Council to listen and engage
The occupation of Carnegie Library, Herne Hill, begins its fifth day on Monday (April 4).
40 people, aged from seven to 73, are still in the building.
Over the weekend, hundreds of Lambeth residents have shown their support by coming to the now-locked entrance grille, blitzing social media and donating huge quantities of food and other essentials.
But only one response has come from Lambeth council – whose insistence on installing a fee-charging gym in the much-loved free library has provoked the occupation. It has called the police, laid on extra security guards, and is taking court action to eject the occupiers. No other contact has been made.
The occupiers say:
“We’ve tried to talk to Lambeth for months. We’re only doing this because they still won’t listen.
“We are getting overwhelming community support because people want proper libraries”.
The Carnegie is one of four libraries due to be replaced by much smaller unstaffed ‘lounges’ with no staff and a small range of books, and nobody to help people. Two of these four, including Carnegie, will have fee-charging gyms installed by leisure company GLL at a cost of £3m. The Friends of Lambeth Libraries contend that a building with no professional library staff is not a library.
The occupiers added: “Lambeth should listen to the community and the staff. How much louder do we need to shout?”
“The gym plan is going to cost money, not save money.
“Come and talk to us while this is straightforward to solve, before we take eachother to court.”
“This is the fourth evening here for us. We keep going because we can see how many people come to the front gates of the library to support us. They bring food, blankets and hot water bottles because they want to be part of this. They are angry about this silly decision, they are emotional to see us behind the bars day in and out. All they want is to keep “their” library and nobody wants a gym!” Dorothea (48)
“The community support for us occupiers has been fantastic: that support is for the library. All the donations of food, blankets and so on is simply an expression of how much people want to see their library reopened” Lisa (50)