Carnegie Library in Herne Hill, South London is being turned into a gym.
Libraries everywhere are facing closures, now Lambeth Council has confirmed plans to spend a million pounds transforming most of Carnegie library’s space into a commercial gym and then further hundreds of thousands of pounds subsidising its use by Greenwich Leisure Ltd.
Carnegie Library is a hive of activity. Whether you want to create, learn, socialise or simply relax on your own the library is for you.
Lambeth Council will stop funding the library as part of their recent Culture 2020 proposals. They suggest that local people could provide an all-volunteer library service without paid staff, however that would be completely impractical. The council gave a library in Streatham Vale as an example, as it’s operating now as a community library. But what the council fail to realise is that the Streatham Vale library is in an alcove in a cafe and only has 309 books. There is no community involvement and the Carnegie has 17,632 books! A big difference.
Lambeth Council’s approved plans to convert the library into a “healthy living centre” based on a fee-paying gym means that there will only be a “small selection of books” in the gym’s lounge. There would not be any library staff; it is unclear whether the gym would be staffed. The conversion works are estimated to take at least 9 months and close the building for most of 2016.
Seven of Lambeth’s ten libraries are subject to similar proposals. The remaining three, are promised a mixture of professional and volunteer staffing. The Carnegie Friends together with Friends groups from other libraries are campaigning for funding to be continued and expect to succeed in this.
Jeff Doorn, Chair of the Friends of Carnegie Library, said: “This will destroy our library which is a flourishing hub of the local community and promotes the health and wellbeing of people of all ages and fitness levels, not just the minority who will use a gym. At a time of financial stress Lambeth should be using its limited resources for the public benefit instead of throwing money away and destroying services.”
To support the library or for more information, please visit friendsofcarnegielibrary.org.uk