Borough archives come under threat from library closures

Part of Croydon’s borough archive has come under threat as a consequence of neighbouring Lambeth’s policy of forcibly turning some of its public libraries into bookish gyms.

library sign upper norwoodThe Carnegie Library in Herne Hill was in the headlines last week over a people’s occupation of the fine old building, which Lambeth Council wants to hand over to Greenwich Leisure to turn into a “community hub” and gym. At Upper Norwood, which Lambeth runs jointly with Croydon Council, the plan is to hand it over to volunteers and make the library self-service. The building on Westow Hill also stores part of Croydon’s local history collection – and the fate of this valuable resource of documents and books going back centuries is under threat.

During last week’s occupation and demonstrations, Lambeth’s borough’s archive service had to be closed for a day because of lack of security staff.

Inside Croydon has been contacted by members of the Norwood Society, who said, “We are doubly concerned about the Upper Norwood collection and Lambeth’s archives.”

Barbara Thomas, who organises regular meetings of the Norwood Society at Upper Norwood Library, said, “We understand that the head of libraries for Croydon has proposed splitting the Upper Norwood local history collection between them and Lambeth. Fortunately an idea rejected by Lambeth, for now.

“But on Friday, Lambeth Archives was closed ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’. We understand the staff were sent away. Lambeth do not have sufficient security staff to open the building. Please contact your local councillors and make clear that this action is unacceptable.”

In a timely manner, the Norwood Society’s latest local history talk, on Thursday, April 21, at 7.30pm, will be a chance to find out what is in the Croydon Local History collections. Lindsay Ould, the Archivist for Croydon, will be coming to talk about their collection and what is of particular interest to Norwood.

Before that, this Thursday (April 14) from 10am to noon the Norwood Society will once again be in the Upper Norwood Library exploring and recording what is in that library’s local history collection. A similar session is planned for April 28.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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