Due to severe cuts to funding from central government over a number of years, the council has had to look at every single service it provides and work out how to best deliver for residents within the parameters of its budget, and this includes the library service.

After consultation with residents, some changes to Lambeth’s libraries are being made but a library service is planned for all ten locations. More information about our budget challenge

Lambeth has committed to delivering 10 libraries in the borough. This includes town centre libraries in Brixton, Clapham, Streatham and West Norwood; Durning and Tate South Lambeth as a joint town centre service and four smaller neighbourhood libraries

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Here’s what is happening at each library;

Brixton – fully maintained service with existing opening hours.

Streatham – newly expanded and refurbished in 2014, will maintain full service with existing opening hours.

West Norwood – current building will maintain full service with existing opening hours. Plans have been agreed for a brand new library, with a full and comprehensive service, to open in 2017.

Clapham – brand new library opened in 2012, will maintain full service with existing opening hours.

Tate South Lambeth – fully maintained service, currently with existing opening hours.

Durning – fully maintained service, currently with existing opening hours.
*Both Durning and Tate South Lambeth are to remain open while plans for a new North Lambeth town centre library are developed.

Upper Norwood – funded by Lambeth and Croydon councils, building will be run as a community space by Upper Norwood Library Trust from the beginning of July, with a neighbourhood library service managed by the Council, including 35 hours a week of library staff.

Waterloo – has moved from current building to the Oasis Centre at 1 Kennington Road, with longer opening hours and a full stock of books.

Carnegie – temporarily closed from April 2016, the current level of community space will remain, including a neighbourhood library service with librarians on site regularly to lead activities and to ensure that stock is up to date. The council has also partnered with Greenwich Leisure Limited, a social enterprise, who will provide health and fitness facilities in the basement of the building.

Minet – Lambeth has commissioned a study to decide the future location of Lambeth Archives, currently located in Minet. That study will report back in September 2016. The future range of activities that will be delivered in the Minet building will be decided once the Archives study is complete, so the best use of the whole building can be considered in light of the findings. It is still proposed that a Neighbourhood Library will re-open in 2017.

2. Carnegie Library - more details

At a time of such severe financial pressure, the council has a duty to look at the most effective way of saving money while prioritising the services most valuable to residents. Carnegie was identified as a building that was not being used to its full potential and there is certainly scope to make the building (including a library provision on site) self-sustainable in partnership with a community group through an Asset Transfer and GLL, the council's leisure provider.

It is envisaged that an appointed community group will manage the ground and first floors of the building that will host a library and other community provision, with GLL managing a gym facility in the excavated basement. This would result in a building that offers a wider range of service for residents, is sustainable for the long term and is managed in the best interests of the local community.

The planning application has now been granted permission. Details of the planning applications committee meeting and conditions attached. Contractors have been appointed and work should start in August 2017. A Community Liaison Group is being established to help manage the works and a preliminary meeting with residents neighbouring the site was held on Thursday 20 July.

Lambeth have identified The Carnegie Community Trust as the preferred partner for the Asset Transfer, following an extensive asset transfer bidding process and review, including independent advice. The council will work closely with the Trust over the coming months to finalise its offer, aiming to complete a final agreement by the end of the year in order to re-open the building.

View the information boards from the recent Carnegie exhibition
Carnegie Neighbourhood Library
Feedback answers and questions
Next steps
The Future of Lambeth Libraries

Planning Application information:
Transport considerations
Heritage considerations
Carnegie – as existing
Carnegie – as proposed

Why are you making changes?

The changes to Carnegie are about securing the long term future of the building. Expanding the building's offer increases its income generating potential, which will help meet the costs of running the building into the future, as well as delivering more for residents. An initial capital outlay, to excavate the basement, underpin the building and refurbish will increase the building's longevity and make it a more sustainable community asset going forward. The Asset Transfer process will enable a community group to access grant funding (which is not available to the council) that will also increase the sustainability and potential of the Carnegie, supporting a library and community use on the site for many years to come.

Won’t a neighbourhood library just be a bookshelf in the corner of the room?

No, there will be a wide range of books (at a similar level as before), DVDs, IT facilities, desk space, free wifi, self-service book lending machines and a librarian on site for at least 2 hours every day to offer assistance and lead activities. See the ‘Carnegie Neighbourhood Library’ board for more detail. Neighbourhood libraries are already up and running in both Waterloo Library and Upper Norwood Joint Library and are working well.

Will children be able to use the new Neighbourhood Library?

Yes of course. Access to the library service is free to all who work, live or study in Lambeth. Children will be able to use the library in the same way as the other libraries in the borough.

Is it true that it is costing more to keep Carnegie closed than it would have to keep it open?

No. While the council budgeted for security costs for unoccupied buildings, the occupation of Carnegie (and the security implications for Minet) meant additional ‘reactive’ security costs were incurred. Security costs were significantly higher during the occupation of Carnegie library (31/3/16 to 9/4/16) and the period post occupation. These higher levels of guarding were required in order to protect the building and to mitigate the risk of further occupation. A reduction in the level of guard and costs was made in May 2016. For the period May to August 2016 security was reviewed monthly and the risk of further occupation assessed. The level of security required was based on these assessments. The static guarding was reduced at Carnegie Library at the end of July 2016. The security costs from September 2016 (around £5,400 per month) was lower than the average costs incurred for guarding of vacant buildings, and has now reduced even further as contractors are present on site. The cost of running the building before it closed was approximately £13,300 per month.

Will there be staff on site at all times when the building reopens?

Yes, GLL staff will be present at all times in the gym area and it is planned that the successful community group will have their staff present on the ground and first floors of the building. There will also be a librarian present for at least two hours every day.

How is the council saving money with this plan?

The library budget, which pays for a library service across ten sites in the borough including Carnegie, has been cut by £800,000. That has involved changing the service in four locations (Minet, Carnegie, Upper Norwood and Waterloo) to ensure all ten library services are provided in the long term. In Carnegie, we will be running a Neighbourhood library service, in partnership in the building with the community and GLL.
With Carnegie, the council will no longer be liable for the substantial running costs of the building, which will be met by GLL, who will run the basement, and a community group who will run the main part of the building through an Asset Transfer process.

Will the garden be restored and open for the community?

In GLL’s plans for the basement, a garden area is included at the back of the building. In the medium term, the garden will come under the remit of the group who are successful in the Asset Transfer process and its importance and popularity are well known to parties expressing an interest. We anticipate that the garden will be used as it was before.

Will there be a kitchen in the new building?

Yes. A kitchen is included in the fit-out plans. Its exact location on the ground floor is still to be confirmed but there will definitely be a new kitchen.

What happened to the community groups that used to use the building?

The popular Wriggle & Rhyme group for Under-5s, that used to be provided in Carnegie library, is now taking place every Wednesday morning in St Saviour’s Church, just over the road. The Carnegie Library Reading group, which meets every first Monday of the month, will also be hosted in St Saviour’s and supported by Lambeth Library Service. The quarterly 'Musical Adventure' workshop for children during half term holidays is also hosted at St Saviour's, with the cost of hiring being met by Lambeth council.

What happened to the small businesses who used the building?

Lambeth has a huge range of desk and work space for small businesses in the borough and alternative accommodation for all the businesses who were using Carnegie was offered. However we were advised that they did not wish to take that offer up.
It is a strong possibility that the new flexible community space will include provision for small, local businesses (depending on the business plans of the groups interested in the Asset Transfer) and if so, we hope that many will return.

Have the war memorials that were stored in the building been moved?

Yes. All the memorials are now either stored at Brixton Library, or at Taylor Pearce Restoration Service Ltd who are assessing the bronze plaques for restoration. The council plans to apply for a Young Roots HLF grant to get the memorials restored as part of a wider project working with young people who will learn about the history of the items and also about restoration and what a career in this area might look like. Discussions with local schools to act as partners on this project are ongoing. Once restored, the items could be exhibited with the research by the young people into their provenance and history.

What is GLL’s involvement?

A partnership with the council’s leisure provider – GLL – in which they take over management of the Carnegie building and associated costs, will enable us to keep the ground and first floors for community use, including the new Neighbourhood library. GLL – a social enterprise that reinvests all profit back into the delivery of services – will open a gym facility in the currently unused basement of the building, expanding the offer to residents. The gym will be run in the same way as the other public leisure centres in the borough such as Brixton Rec.

How much will it cost to use the gym?

There are many memberships to choose; the cost of Minet and Carnegie gyms will fall in line with the prices offered within other Lambeth Leisure Centres. These prices will start at 19.95 per month

How much profit is GLL set to make from Carnegie?

GLL are a not for profit, charitable social enterprise. As a charitable social enterprise they are able to make a surplus, which must be reinvested in pursuit of their charitable objectives.

How will people access the gym without disturbing the library?

It is proposed that the entrance to the gym will be located at the side of the building, keeping the main entrance exclusively for the users of the library and community space.

How can a gym be in the same building as a library – won’t there be noise issues?

The gym will be contained in the basement of the building, while the library space will be on the ground floor. The fit out of the building will include sound-proofing measures to enable a range of uses.

How many stations etc. will be in the gym / what other things will be on offer (e.g. classes)?

There will be between 60-70 gym stations which will be a combination of cardiovascular and resistance machines. Classes will be offered in the community space throughout the week and will be a selection of low impact classes such as Yoga and higher energized classes such as body pump.

What is the cost of excavating the basement at Carnegie and who will pay for it?

The Cabinet report of October 2015 made provisions of up to £2m capital investment from the council's capital programme and £1m from a shared development fund with GLL. This will fund the capital work to Carnegie – making the building more sustainable to run in the long term, and offer more for residents - it is not part of the libraries revenue budget. The cost of the 'Phase one' at Carnegie, which includes basement excavation and support, is £1.25m. The contract for this work has been awarded to Forcia Ltd.

There has been reports of Japenese knotweed in the building. Is this true and is it being treated?

Lambeth Council parks team are treating Japanese knotweed on the site, in consultation with directly affected neighbours. The growth is very young and it is expected that it will be simple to treat. It has had two treatments so far this year and the treatment programme will last approximately 3 years.

The corner of Herne Hill Road and Ferndene Road already seems prone to accidents. Won’t an increase in construction traffic make this worse?

Transport for London data shows that there have been no recorded collisions at this junction resulting in injury since 2011, so it is not considered to be an ‘accident blackspot’ based on official data. However, that is not to say there hasn’t been minor collisions between vehicles, for which we do not hold data, and contractors have been made aware of traffic safety concerns and speeding issues on Herne Hill Road.

What was the feedback from the first Carnegie exhibition?

The feedback from the first exhibition in June, both from the feedback cards and face-to-face conversations, has been extremely useful and will be taken into account when making future decisions about the building’s use and the priorities for the local community. Although the Neighbourhood Library will not be exactly as it was in terms of full time librarians and floor space, it is clear that people are keen to see a building that is safe and welcoming for the whole community, much in the way it always has been, and we are confident that will be achieved when Carnegie reopens next year. This process has always been about providing Carnegie with a more sustainable footing so that it can be an asset for the community for many years to come. There have been very many constructive suggestions for what people would like to see in the Community Space that will be provided in the building as this will be communicated to the community group that is successful from the Asset Transfer process.

Main questions and topics mentioned:
The main issues raised were ones around staffing, financial details of the project, current security costs and more detailed floor plans and drawings. Other concerns raised included the future of the garden, increased pressure on parking when the building reopens, the issue of planning permission for basement excavation and change of use and the compatibility of a gym and library in the same building (largely around noise issues). All of these points have been addressed in the updated FAQs and information boards provided above. Questions raised regarding what the library will offer, the access for children and the process around any future transfer to a community group were answered during the exhibition and also form part of the library FAQs.

Suggestions for ‘community space’:
There were many interesting and helpful suggestions for what people would like to see the ground and first floors of the building used for alongside the library, as part of the community space element. It is planned that a community group will manage this space and include a range of uses to generate revenue and increase use within the local community. While it is clear that a lot of people would like to see the major use remain a library, below are some suggestions as to what else could be offered.

  • Café
  • Children’s space / soft play
  • Group meeting space
  • Kitchen
  • Crèche
  • House the archives
  • Gallery space
  • One-to-one tuition space
  • Theatre / Performing Arts space
  • Homework club
  • Local enterprises
  • Meeting space for elderly people
  • General workspace
  • Arts and crafts clubs
  • Yoga
  • Chess
  • IT facilities

*If you have any further questions or feedback on the plans, you can e-mail communications@lambeth.gov.uk

3. Durning Library and Tate South Lambeth Library - more details

Following a second round of consultation on these specific sites, we have recognised the desire to keep these libraries open until we can identify a permanent site for a town centre library for the north of the borough. We propose to keep both Tate South Lambeth and Durning Library open.

For more information please see the Durning Library and Tate South Lambeth Library: Consultation Report - March 2016

What about the promised new North Lambeth library?

There will be ample opportunity to explore a range of options and thanks to development and growth which brings inward investment, we can really consider where and what type of facility local people want and how it can be fit for the future – like the new or refurbished libraries at Clapham, West Norwood and Streatham.

4. Minet Library - more details

Lambeth has commissioned a study to decide the future location of Lambeth Archives, currently located in Minet. That study has now reported back and is under review. The future range of activities that will be delivered in the Minet building will be decided once the Archives' future is clearer, so the best use of the whole building can be considered. It is still proposed that a Neighbourhood Library will re-open in 2017.

More information regarding the Archives study

5. Upper Norwood Joint Library - more details

The Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL) building is now being run by the Upper Norwood Library Trust – members of the local community who have a real passion and commitment to the library.

The Trust will be working to develop a range of cultural and educational activities in the building alongside the library, which aim to engage the whole community, an endeavour which is being joint funded by both Lambeth and Croydon councils to the tune of £85,000 each.

The future for Upper Norwood Joint Library (leaflet)

Why are you making changes?

By transferring the management of the building over to the Trust, Lambeth saves money on running costs. The Trust will also be able to access grants that the council cannot, and generate money to keep the building sustainable and serving the community for many years to come.

What will the new library offer?

It is proposed that the library will have a very similar book stock as now, operate in much of the same space and host regular community activities such as the popular Wiggle and Hum – as it always has. The library service will still be managed by Lambeth with Lambeth’s library staff providing 35 hours of library staff cover per week for two years, with a review after a year.

Who are the Upper Norwood Library Trust?

The Trust are a group of local residents – previously part of the Save the Library Campaign – who have set up a Trust in order to secure a 21st century library with professional staff and a properly stocked library hosted as a part of a vibrant community learning hub. They are all volunteers and have no financial interest in the library building. More information can be found on the Upper Norwood Library Trust website

6. Waterloo Library - more details

Waterloo Library is moving poster

Waterloo library now has a new home at the refurbished Oasis Centre, at 1 Kennington Road, opposite Lambeth North Tube station. The previous library location in Lower Marsh is now closed.

The new Waterloo library at the Oasis centre has:

  • Longer opening hours: 9am to 5pm Monday – Friday; and 9.30 – 5.30pm on Saturdays.
  • Lambeth Libraries staff on site on a daily basis to help users, join members, answer enquires
  • Oasis Centre staff managing the rest of the building at all times
  • Regular reading groups and children’s storytimes sessions
  • A café where library users and other members of the public can enjoy refreshments.

The relocated Waterloo library at the Oasis Centre continues to provide a wide range of books, DVDS, e-books and magazines and has free access to computers and Wi-Fi, study space, scanning and printing facilities and a wide range of information.

Who are ‘Oasis’?

Oasis is a not for profit organisation that includes a community Hub based in Waterloo. Oasis’ aim is to help to create a local community where people of all ages and situations feel included, know that they can contribute and realise a deep sense of belonging. Oasis currently serve the community by offering a range of integrated services including: a stay-and-play children’s centre; a primary school; a secondary school; adult and further education opportunities; the Waterloo foodbank; a debt advice centre; a church; a community farm; a higher education college and diverse sports, arts and social programmes for young people; as well as an in-reach youth service to St Thomas’ Hospital Emergency Department. On 20th June 2016, Oasis will open their newly built community coffee shop.

What will happen to the old building?

The current Waterloo Library site at 114-118 Lower Marsh will be re-used as a temporary creative hub, prior to longer-term redevelopment of the site. The creative hub will provide affordable retail, co-working and office space over the next 2-3 years. The creative hub will make a positive, accessible and vibrant contribution within the local Waterloo and wider Lambeth resident community. The facility responds to the growing concern about the rising cost of workspace particularly for start-ups and micro businesses. The existing Waterloo Jobshop operated at the site by South Bank Employers Group will remain, continuing to deliver its existing local support programme, supporting long term unemployed people into work.

Following a tender process, Lambeth Council will be partnering with Meanwhile Space Community Interest Company (CIC), to deliver this exciting new creative hub. Meanwhile Space CIC is a social enterprise with a successful track record of delivering temporary use projects supporting high streets and local communities across London. There will be a target of 70% of small businesses benefiting from space at the facility being Lambeth residents. During July and August, Meanwhile Space and WeAreWaterloo BID will issue a call for interested organisations who want to take up space within the creative hub, and also for ideas to bring Granby Place into use. Granby Place is at the rear of 114 Lower Marsh site off the high street.

7. West Norwood - more details

Work will begin on the Nettlefold Hall site imminently, to provide a brand new Town Centre Library, alongside a four-screen cinema. For information and images of the new library, see the West Norwood Library & Cinema, coming autumn 2017 posters.

8. Frequently asked questions

Will children be able to use the new self-service, neighbourhood libraries?

Yes. Children will be able to use all Lambeth libraries in the same way as they always have done. No unaccompanied children under eight years old are allowed in Lambeth libraries, the general library safeguarding policy will still apply. All partners have provided their own safeguarding policies which will be checked and approved prior to operating any service involving children.

What about book stocks?

We are not reducing the book stock and it will be planned and managed by the Lambeth library service on a rotating basis, which will reflect local needs, culture and community languages. Where the building permits there will be space for community groups and small enterprises to hire. A fund will be set up to support local charities and projects that encourage reading.

What about the Staff Mutual proposal?

The idea of a staff mutual was first discussed and encouraged in 2012. The library management expressed an interest in establishing a staff mutual in April 2015 as part of their response to Culture 2020 consultation. This expression of interest was judged as not viable. As part of a review by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, they asked if the staff mutual could be considered again. The library management was given a further opportunity to provide an updated proposal in line with the cabinet decision. This was submitted in January 2016. The council offered the library management funding of £5,000 to buy financial and legal support in preparing the proposal.

A panel led by Lambeth council’s Strategic Director for Corporate Resources, who was not involved in the Culture 2020 consultation, and including an expert from an independent agency called Mutual Ventures which was involved in setting up a Staff Mutual system for libraries in York, as well as council legal and finance officers, evaluated the proposal.

Their assessment found that while the Staff and Community Mutual proposal contained some good proposals for service improvements, there was not a business plan in place that could deliver the significant savings required by 1 April 2016. The proposal did not address in detail questions about the transfer of legal responsibilities, staff terms and conditions or how they could generate more income. It was not a viable plan that could deliver the savings required within the next 12-18 months.

Read the Assessment of Staff and Community Mutual – 4 March 2016

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced it is looking into the changes to Lambeth’s library service – what is the current situation?

The council were contacted by the DCMS in early April, regarding representations it had received relating to the changes to Lambeth’s library service and the council’s duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (1964 Act) to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service.

DCMS is treating the representations as a formal complaint under Section 10(1)(a) of the 1964 Act. As part of its consideration of the complaint officials from DCMS met with Lambeth’s Chief Executive and other council officers on 18 May for an initial discussion regarding the background to the recent changes implemented to Lambeth library service provision. The DCMS took away information provided by the council for review and this together with other representations received will be assessed to provide advice and recommendations to DCMS Ministers as to whether they are minded to order an inquiry or not.

There is no set timescale for consideration of the complaint and it will vary dependent upon a number of factors including the complexity of issues to be addressed and the volume of detail to be analysed. All relevant detail will be carefully considered to enable the Secretary of State to decide whether a local inquiry is necessary to resolve any real doubt about the Council's compliance with its statutory duty under the Act.

Is there any guidance for 'Friends of...' Library groups to assist in becoming legally recognised organisations?

Yes. There is a Friends Groups Guidance note produced by the council's legal team, as well as guidance from the Charity Commission regarding the Constitution of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation whose only voting members are its charity trustees