Lambeth Closes Lambeth Archives as Library Campaign Hots Up


As the campaign to save Lambeth Libraries developed triggered by the occupation of the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill, Lambeth Council added insult to injury by closing Lambeth Archives, on Friday 8 April, because  ‘there aren’t enough security guards to guarantee’ the security of the staff.

The same day it obtained an injunction against the occupiers of the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill to leave within 24 hours. The next hearing will be on 4 May.

On Saturday 9  April a demonstration of about 2,000 people was held  from Carnegie Library marching past  Minet Library and ending at Windrush Square in Brixton. The campaign is now supported by Rachel Heywood as the lone Labour Councillor rebel on the issue.

The organisers state that ‘Lambeth’s arrogance and inefficiency extend well beyond libraries. We have issues in common with many Lambeth residents suffering from the give-away of public assets to commercial firms, the demolition of people’s homes and the loss of much-loved  local landmarks in favour of expensive flats for wealthy outsiders.

Up until the service of the injunction the occupation at Carnegie Library was ‘still strong and our supporters are seen and heard far afield.   We are tired, but buoyed up by the support of hundreds of people, from all over Lambeth and beyond.

One of the many generous donations was  a fish and chip supper for all which was delivered on Wednesday evening by the owner of local business Olleys Fish and Chips who tweeted: “It’s my pleasure supporting the community. We all are the community.  Without each other there is no community”.

Every day, a constant stream of visitors thank us for what we are doing – for everyone, and ask how they can help. We are amazed at the range of our supporters.

Students from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts were in central London showing their support for the Carnegie Occupation by visiting GLL premises with banners and placards.

Liverpool fans at Dortmund unfurled a Save Carnegie banner on 7 April around the German city.

On Wednesday, 6 April, local writers Stella Duffy and Toby Litt set out to collect 110 signatures backing the occupation (one for every year of the Carnegie).  They had to shut off the deluge at 220 signatures. On the list are Neil Gaiman, Colm Toibin, Meg Rosoff, Sophie Kinsella, Ali Smith, David Mitchell, Freya North, Gillian Slovo Julian Barnes, Kate Mosse, Linda Grant, Nick Hornby, Ian Rankin, Jake Arnott, Philip Hensher, Sarah Waters… and many more.

Other literary personalities that have visited include  Alex Wheatle, Francesca ‘Horrid Henry’ Simon and illustrator Sarah McIntyre. Francesca Simon was interviewed on Channel 4 News at,AAAAAEabvr4~,Wtd2HT-p_Vh4qBcIZDrvZlvNCU8nxccG&bctid=4837866802001

Each day there has been a continuous pot-luck of entertainers on the library steps:  poets, singers, artists, musicians, comedians, performers and choirs. St Saviour’s, the nearest church, sent two guitarists to lead a sing-song.

Messages of support have come in from all over the world, including Canada, France, USA, Tanzania and Switzerland.

Despite all of this support, Lambeth Council won’t budge.  Laura Swaffield, Chair of Friends of Lambeth Libraries and an occupier said: “Lambeth council remains at odds with everyone else, and at odds with common sense. It is completely out of touch. And it seems determined to remain so. For months it has ignored what thousands of residents have been telling it. That’s why we were finally forced to occupy the Carnegie.”

“Nobody wants four well-used libraries to be reduced to a fraction of their current size, with no staff at all.  Nobody wants two of these four to be converted into gyms at huge expense (likely to exceed £6m).”


About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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