EXCLUSIVE: KEN LEE, our Town Hall correspondent, reports on a move which some of the borough’s librarians called for a fortnight ago
The 12 libraries run by Croydon Council will close their doors for a final time tonight, with no plans to re-open them again until the coronavirus pandemic has been declared over.
The council’s librarians have been anxious about the possible effects on their own health, and those who use the libraries since the emergency was declared more than two weeks ago.
The fear of passing on the virus either through contact in the public areas or even through returned books has been a constant concern.
The council has not yet formally announced the closures, although Inside Croydon understands that senior managers at the borough’s libraries have been instructed to make arrangements for long-term closure from the end of business tonight.
The libraries affected are: Central (in the Croydon Clocktower), Ashburton, Bradmore Green, Broad Green, Coulsdon, New Addington, Norbury, Purley, Sanderstead, Selsdon, Shirley, South Norwood and Thornton Heath.
A 13th library, in Upper Norwood, although it receives funding from Croydon, is also funded from Lambeth and is not immediately subject to the Croydon Council decision. “Talks are on-going over what we should be doing,” a source there said.
Southwark Council has already closed its public libraries.
The Croydon decision comes despite Jo Negrini, the council chief executive, issuing an email to other staff this week insisting that they continue to work from the office – going against the advice issued by the Government and the chief medical officer, who suggest that all those who can work from home should do so.
The library closures will doubtless be hard-felt by some of the most vulnerable residents in the borough, who rely on the shared facilities for access to the internet, for completing online benefit forms and job applications as demanded by the DWP, or simply for some regular social engagement. Certainly, those pupils who might have considered using their local library for studying after the schools close today will need to reconsider their options.
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