Society of Authors LambethAndrew Carnegie‘s legacy of supporting public education and literacy is getting a late refresh in London. Carnegie Library in Herne Hill, Lambeth, was slated for closure on April 1st, as part of cost-cutting moves by Lambeth Council. However, protestors have now occupied the library and are acting as a beacon for the broader movement against library shutdowns in the UK. Even the Financial Times is covering the story in detail, quoting Carnegie’s own words that “a library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.”

The Lambeth Council’s own information page on the library states that: “Carnegie Library is close to Denmark Hill and Herne Hill, and is a picturesque Grade II listed building. It closes on 31st March 2016 and it will reopen in 2017 as a healthy living centre with a self-service neighbourhood library.” However, according to the FT, the library is “caught up in plans to trim £4 million [$5.7 million] from the council’s leisure budget. It is slated to become a gym with an unknown number of bookshelves.”

The UK Society of Authors Tweeted the above image of the occupation, urging library users everywhere to “Stick up for your local library!” Voluminous other statements of support have gone out under the hashtag #carnegieoccupation and from the Save Our Libraries – Lambeth Facebook page. Local councillors have been publicly rebuked for their less-than-committed response to the campaign.

At end March 2016, the UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) shared a BBC dataset showing the “extent of losses to public library services and paid staff since 2010” in the UK. According to this, “almost 8,000 jobs in UK public libraries have disappeared in six years and 343 libraries have closed, with over 15,000 volunteers recruited to the library service.” CILIP Chief Executive Nick Poole stated that the figures: “demonstrate again the damage caused by hastily implemented austerity and devolution policies without a robust strategic plan for libraries.”


  1. Close libraries and give the money to arms-dealers. But a few library closures won’t do it. Increase cost of education too to pay for bombs. Meanwhile Cameron’s father avoided paying taxes. Are you going to give that money back Mr. Primeminister?

    • Actually, the British miltiary is is pitable shape, with cuts all over. It’s getting cut so badly, it can hardly be to blame for cuts anywhere else.

      On one hand the UK pays so much in welfare, those refugees Europe is fussing over don’t want to stay someplace merely safe like Greece or France. They want to get to the UK, where the dole pays better. One result is that, like everything else, UK welfare is facing major cuts. In the midst of all that, libraries don’t seem important to politicians.

      The NHS is a disaster area much like our VA hospitals. It’s a vast bureaucracy able to waste huge sums of money, but unable to treat people quickly or well. Heck, it doesn’t even care. NHS doctors get rich by not treating patients under NHS but through the delays they create, treating them as lucrative private patients. Those needing cataract surgery often have to wait 18 months and the procedure is so out-dated it takes two hours. In the U.S. it’s a twelve minute procedure you can probably schedule for the next day.

      I’ve been reading Broken Vows, Tom Bower’s description of Tony Blair as PM. It’s a long and detailed book that’s hard to follow if you don’t know UK politics, but the core message is obvious. Blair and his administration were clever with slogans but didn’t have the slightest idea how to govern. Slogans without results are the “Broken Vows” of the title.

      “Tough on crime. Tough on the causes of crime” was a good way to dupe voters across the political spectrum, but Blair and Co. did not know how to do either. The same was true in every other area. They threw money at problems without knowing if the money would do any good. They fretted constantly over bad news coverage but paid little attention to the realities. They borrowed from China like there was no tomorrow and now its tomorrow. In education, they had so few ideas other than appeasing the teachers unions, they ended up adopting ideas from the conservatives and giving them new names to conceal the source. It was all image and no substance.

      We can’t gloat. We’re facing the same politics of ‘slogans rather than competence’ madness here and have been since at least 2008 (i.e empty words such as “hope and change.”) It’s like a vast epidemic of stupidity has struck the world—or at least the political classes and certain slices of voters. The more arrogant they are, the stupider they behave.

      We’re in such a mess, I’m trying to come up with an idea for an Animal Farm or 1984 type novel to bring it all together. But it’s likely to be so depressing, no one will read it. In comparison, the grimness of 1984 will seem like light comedy.


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