Libraries ThreatThe upcoming Local Assemblies should prove lively  with news breaking last week about Lewisham Council’s proposals to cut more local library services and turn their upkeep over to voluntary groups.

Community Consultation As several local residents have pointed out on social media, the Council’s online ‘Consultation’ about proposed Library cuts does not list an option for keeping our libraries open and professionally staffed. It appears residents are being asked to rubber stamp harmful, swingeing cuts under the guise of community consultation.

And Then There Were Three. Half of Lewisham’s libraries are no longer in Council hands;  Lewisham outsourced several neighbourhood libraries to community groups in an earlier round of cuts in 2010.
As we understand it if these current proposals go through, then Lewisham, Downham, Forest Hill and Deptford Libraries will be the only Council-run libraries staffed by qualified librarians in the Borough, leaving the rest in the hands of various voluntary groups and social enterprises.

Since 2010 the newly created community libraries in Crofton Park and Sydenham have seen lending rates fall dramatically. (Thank you Forest Hill Society for the  Source)  The alarming drop is believed to be partly due to fewer classroom visits.

 

Libraries Under Immediate Threat‘ Community’ Libraies, Already In Voluntary Hands.
Catford Library Blackheath Village community library
Forest Hill Library Crofton Park community library
Manor House Library Grove Park community library
Torridon Road Library New Cross community library
Pepys community library service
Sydenham community library

Community library volunteers work  hard but opening hours are hard to guarantee and the libraries struggle financially, continually appealing for donations of money, books and equipment.

Is this to be the fate of Torridon and Manor House Libraries?

What Price Austerity? These plans are existential threats to the library services and resources in this Borough. It’s a devil of a price to pay, because we still need libraries! Not everything is to be found online; it’s a quiet place to research, to do home work, to use a free computer, to access services, to get out of and meet people.

Respect the Skillset. The loss of experience and skills through redundancies and staff moving on is too high a price to pay for austerity, many full and part time library posts have already been lost-local unions estimate 40 % of library staff have already gone. The staff at the remaining trio of Council libraries will surely be under even more pressure, further adding to the erosion of quality service.

 Volunteers cannot replace key skills. Our librarians are often the first port of call for the most vulnerable people in our community- those already living pressured lives partially due to frontline service cuts elsewhere.
People in a world city should not have to travel into Central Lewisham, Downham or Deptford to find a qualified librarian!

Torridon Library was a sanctuary for Guardian journalist Lucy Mangan 

 

Contact your Councillor:

Find out more at your Local Assembly, hosted by Ward Councillors- Meeting dates and times below:

Lee Green Assembly
Date: Tuesday, 6th October, 2015
Time: 7.30 pm
Location: Trinity Secondary School, Taunton Road,  SE12 8PD

Lewisham Central Assembly
Date: Tuesday 13 October
Time: 7-9pm
Location: Ted Ray Scout Hall, 123 Springbank Road SE13 6SS

Catford South Assembly
Date: Wednesday 14 October
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Venue: St Laurence Church, Community Centre, 37 Bromley Road, Catford SE6 2TS