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;
- 2. Carnegie Library - more details
- 3. Durning Library and Tate South Lambeth Library - more details
- 4. Minet Library - more details
- 5. Upper Norwood Joint Library - more details
- 6. Waterloo Library - more details
- 7. West Norwood - more details
- 8. Frequently asked questions
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. Work has begun on a brand new library at Nettlefold Hall, with a full and comprehensive service, alongside a new cinema, opening in 2018.
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, the building is run as a community space by Upper Norwood Library Trust, 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. the library will reopen in February 2018.
Minet – open as a Neighbourhood Library for 34 hours a week
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 in the medium-long term 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 has been established to help manage the works and the first meeting with residents neighbouring the site was held on Thursday 20 July. The library will reopen in mid-February 2018 with a phased opening seeing the gym open in Spring/Summer 2018.
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.
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. There will always be staff present in the library area who are DBS checked and children will be welcome to use the library as they do other libraries in the borough. We still recommend that children under the age of 12 are not left unaccompanied in public places and children under 8 must always be accompanied in all our libraries.
Who will be managing the building?
The council continues to retain ownership of the building. For the re-opening it will be managed initially by GLL who will also run the gym on completion in the summer. GLL will provide customer care staff in the library when librarians are not present. GLL have experience of running libraries in other boroughs and their ground floor staff will be able to monitor the library area. In the medium to long term, the aim remains for the building to be managed by a community group, who will not only oversee the library but also provide a range of services that will both increase what is on offer for local residents as well as providing an income stream to help maintain and manage the building. This model is currently proving successful at the Upper Norwood Library Hub in the borough where new activities are being offered and Lambeth Libraries have increased the numbers of visitors and book issues. The council remains in negotiations with the Carnegie Community Trust to take a long lease and management of the building with a view to starting their work in Carnegie in the new year.
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, there will be staff present during all opening hours, with library staff on site for at least two hours per day. During non-librarian hours, experienced customer care staff will be present to assist library users.
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, is also hosted in St Saviour’s and supported by Lambeth Library Service. These groups will return to the library after reopening. 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 – will enable us to keep the ground and first floors for community use, including the new Neighbourhood library. GLL, a charitable social enterprise, agreed to pay a £1m contribution from a shared capital pot towards the excavation and fit out and will deliver a gym in the basement. In return for the capital investment in the council’s building, GLL will have a four-year rent free period during which they will provide staff and initially manage the building. After this period the gym in the basement will provide an income stream for the building, helping make it financially sustainable long into the future.
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 else will be in the building?
That is predominantly up to the community group that takes over management of the building. During the granting of planning permission for the gym earlier this year, a condition was imposed that ensured a library service must be delivered in the building. The plans put forward by the Carnegie Community Trust (the preferred bidder for the Asset Transfer) include: a café, an enterprise centre, space for meetings and community events, space for hire and restoration of the garden for use by residents and the community alongside the library provision. They plan to focus on programmes around enterprise and learning; health and wellbeing; and performance and arts.
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.
*If you have any further questions or feedback on the plans, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 new arrangement is proving successful with membership and book issues increased.
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.
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?
The library has a very similar book stock as now, operating in much of the same space and hosting 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. Alongside the library, and to make the project financially sustainable, the Trust have massively expanded the building’s offer. There is a studio room downstairs available for hire that is being used for activities such as mindfulness, training programmes and yoga classes. There is also another space in the basement that has just got a long-term tenant in place. Upstairs there is a larger room, ideal for large artistic activities such as life drawing, weddings, exhibitions, conferences, children’s birthday parties, seminars or even Zumba and ballet. The front library space comes alive in the evening and can be used for dancing classes, talks and more. As well as the physical spaces that can be hired out to generate income, the Trust run a whole range of events and services for the local community including ConnectingU free home-visit advice sessions for vulnerable people and energy advice sessions. There are also educational and skills based activities for young and old such as our English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) classes, tutoring services for young people, a free homework club on Wednesdays and Thursdays, a dementia café and meditation sessions.
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 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 operating as a business 'incubator' for small and start-up businesses in the borough, while long term development plans are confirmed.
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 is being 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 is making 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 remains, continuing to deliver its existing local support programme, supporting long term unemployed people into work.
Following a tender process, Lambeth Council is 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 is a target of 70% of small businesses benefiting from space at the facility being Lambeth residents.
7. West Norwood - more details
Work is well underway on the Nettlefold Hall site, 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.
Delays to the building work means the library and cinema will now open in 2018.
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.
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