Based on statement from Laura Swaffield of the Defend Lambeth Libraries campaign on its recent activities.
On Saturday 17 September children gathered at Brixton Library for a party to celebrate this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, the hugely successful scheme that keeps children entertained – and reading – through the summer holidays.
This has been proved to completely prevent the ‘dip’ in reading skills that sets back progress until school starts again. Numbers attending have grown spectacularly in Lambeth, year by year.
This year’s ‘Big Friendly Read’ focused on Roald Dahl, including his popular BFG (Big Friendly Giant) book, now a film starring Mark Rylance.
Also at 2pm, Defend the 10 Libraries campaigners will visit Brixton Rec, local home of GLL- the Big UNfriendly Giant that threatens to wreck libraries and see millions wasted on installing unwanted pay-to-use gyms in them.
Much damage has already been done to children. Last year saw 409 children complete the Summer Reading Challenge at
Carnegie Library (the busiest children’s library in the borough) and another 196 at Minet Library.
This year, both libraries were closed (costing more in security guards than keeping them open would have cost).
The children had nothing.
Last year, Waterloo Library had 248 children happily engaged on the Summer Reading Challenge. This year the new ‘neighbourhood library’ opened at the Oasis academy as the holiday started. Lambeth officials, fearing public protests, closed the real library a day earlier than announced – cancelling at short notice the Summer Reading Challenge launch party children had looked forward to.
Staff did their best in the new Oasis mini-space with no room for activities and almost no staffing – but the result was that just SIX children completed the Challenge this year.
According to Lambeth Council and GLL, similar unstaffed mini-spaces should be open at Carnegie and Minet next summer.
Going by this year’s experience, the outlook for children will be permanently unfriendly…
The campaign demonstration at Brixton Recreation Centre was to warn that GLL (Greenwich Leisure Ltd), which runs the recreation centre, poses an ugly threat to Lambeth’s much-loved libraries.
GLL is looking less like a charitable social enterprise – more like a Big Unfriendly Giant. So campaigners donned BFG ears to highlight the danger.
Lambeth’s Labour council, with GLL, is still determined to instal unwanted pay-to-use gyms in two libraries. The threat to impose a gym on the popular Tate South Lambeth library has been fought off by local people, but two other libraries are still being lined up for the same fate.
The Carnegie and Minet libraries have been pointlessly closed since April 1, while gym plans drift slowly on. Security guards are costing more than it would have cost to keep them open. And installing gyms could cost a whopping £4m of taxpayers’ money.
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