Library campaigners are planning a demonstration at Upper Norwood Library next Saturday, April 30, to protest against the withdrawal of professional staff and turning the century-old amenity into a “self-service” facility.
Upper Norwood, which is operated jointly by Croydon and Lambeth councils, has fallen foul of local authority cuts. Lambeth’s “co-operative” council has encountered considerable community opposition to its plans to close libraries and convert others into “bookish gyms”.
Senior Labour councillors in Croydon, meanwhile, have indicated that they want to use Upper Norwood, run by a volunteer trust, as experimental guinea pigs, while it conducts a consultation on the future for the borough’s statutory library provision – a poorly disguised exercise to justify further service restrictions and staff cuts on the already resource-starved service.
The Defend The Ten campaign group in Lambeth occupied Carnegie Library in Herne Hill for 10 days, following its closure on March 30.
Carnegie and the Minet Library are scheduled to be handed over to Greenwich Leisure Ltd and be run as “well-being hubs”, with no professional library staff.
The Carnegie occupation produced unprecedented media coverage and condemnation in both national and London press. When the protestors were evicted from the Carnegie following a Lambeth Council court order, they were greeted by more than 2,000 people who set off on a mass march to Brixton Town Hall.
Library campaigners have this weekend issued another call-to-arms to the people of Crystal Palace, Gipsy Hill and Upper Norwood for next Saturday.
“The Trust that takes over the building has no remit to employ library staff and it is anybody’s guess how a self-service library will work without qualified staff,” the campaigners say.
“As usual it is being carried out in the most chaotic and damaging fashion by Lambeth and Croydon councils.
“Defend The Ten libraries has called a demo outside the library at noon next Saturday to protest the ending of 116 years of a professionally staffed library in Upper Norwood. Please join us!”
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