A petition has been started on change.org by Ronald Gibson, co-chair of the Upper Norwood Library Trust, calling for the Library to be properly funded.
You can find out more about the Trust and its campaign at http://www.unlc.org.uk and https://www.facebook.com/groups/269577509754920
At the Croydon Council meeting on Monday 19 October Cabinet Member Tim Godfrey stated in reply to a question:
‘Lambeth Council has recently announced in a cabinet paper ‘Culture 2020’ their plans for the development of culture in Lambeth. This paper includes details about a change in their approach to the provision of the library in Upper Norwood. Their proposal is to turn it into one of five neighbourhood libraries. This proposal involved transferring the building to the Upper Norwood Library Trust for them to use for community and income generating purposes. As part of this a “neighbourhood” library will be provided. This will have limited library services and be unstaffed. With funding provided by Croydon Council the Upper Norwood Library Trust is currently testing income generation models in the library. This is to test the feasibility and sustainability of services should they take a lease from Croydon & Lambeth Councils. As this change to the provision of the service by Lambeth is a significant one we are currently reviewing their proposals. We are assessing implications for the library and the cost implications of any lease transfer, taking account of the condition of the building. We are working with the Trust and Lambeth to ensure that it has a sustainable future with minimum financial risk to the council. Discussions with Lambeth and the Trust are on-going and a final decision on the building and service transfer will be made in the spring of 2016.’
Comments on the statement
I emailed the text late afternoon on Monday and have already received the following comments back.
- ‘What is proposed by Lambeth with Croydon’s collusion is political and cultural vandalism and will not serve the next generation of book readers in Upper Norwood.’
- ‘(I)ncome generation by the trust is unrealistic especially as a Victorian’s building’s fabric will always have a high maintenance cost.’
- Both Councils ‘have failed to maintain the building to an adequate standard in past years.’
- ‘(A)ll libraries should be serviced by qualified librarians and any voluntary help should be for the ‘extras’ that might, in the case of Upper Norwood, include local history/heritage matters.’
- At the Lambeth Cabinet meeting it was revealed that ‘that over 40% of the library budget is spent on central office staff who have no public contact.
- It is ‘moral blackmail’ to pitch ‘library and archives provision against services such as those for children.’
Threat to Gerald Massey Collection
The threat to the Library raises questions about the future security of the important Gerald Massey Collection which is housed at the Library. Massey, a Chartist, journalist, poet and freethinker, died at his home in South Norwood Hill, on 29 October 1907. For this reason I am emailing my Chartist and labour movement history contacts around the country.