Monday, 7 November 2016

National Libraries March 5 November

On Saturday, Save Lewisham Libraries campaigner joined a national demonstration by library, gallery and museum workers and their Unions.







We marched from the British Library to the steps of the National Gallery, where a rally was held with speakers such as writers Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, library campaigners and library users appalled at the devastation of cultural services over the past few years.

The fight goes on...

Next organising meeting - 7pm Monday 14 November at the Catford Constitutional Club.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Further Reports of a Downgraded Library Service

Depressing reports continue to come in from the public, regarding the handing over of Torridon Road and Forest Hill library to private enterprise, the abandonment of Manor House Library and poor staffing levels at Catford Library.

"Shelving trolley was piled high with books all over the floor on Tuesday morning. Library staff did turn up and shelve them today, however children's library looked like a bomb had hit it. Female security guard stepped in to the breach and has been running the weekly Baby Bounce sessions as up to 20 parents turned up as usual expecting a session. This is beyond what she is expected or paid to do. No printing - whilst I was there 3 people asked and were told they had to go to Lewisham. No collection of reservations - people have to go to Lewisham to collect any. No newspapers - security guards are picking up free copies of the Metro and making them available but no other papers available. No library staff there on Saturday - the busiest day. Self service terminal broke down. Security guard made a note on paper of returned books..."Manor House Library User

People report not being able to print documents - an essential service for some - at both Catford Library and Manor House Library.

Library users also report that Forest Hill Library opened two hours late on Saturday - is this the reliable library service we were lead to believe would be delivered by V22?

The campaign invites more library users to comment on these latest developments to our local libraries.

If you want to protest at the downgrading of Lewisham's Library Service, write to your councilor and the Mayor who approved this and join us on the national march this Saturday. Lewisham campaigners will meet up at Pret A Manger on the corner of Mabledon Place/Euston Road at noon.

Libraries, Museums & Galleries Demonstration

12noon Saturday 5th November, 2016

Meet in the car park behind the British Library, Euston Road.

March to House of Commons for a rally.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Manor House Library Opening Hours Slashed

Reports are coming in about the cuts hitting Manor House Library. 

Two of our activists found some sad scenes on Saturday as the library shut earlier than usual at 3pm. Previous to this there were no library staff to assist library users apart from the security guard who could not meet people's needs leading to disappointment.  It has fallen to the security guard to help members of the public this week.  She even did the baby bounce session. 

At the nearby cafe, a woman introduced herself who ran the child minding group. She was eager to support the campaign and told they had cancelled their childminding group, because it's a community group and doesn't pay. Tuesday was unavailable and so was any other day. It had been a regular and important part of the local community for parents to share their labour sensibly. Before we left, a car was locked in to the library grounds leading to great anxiety, all because of confusion over new opening hours, which haven't been publicised properly. 

Many families and individuals came after 3pm and left disappointed, wondering about the simplest of matters, such as where to return their library book. 

It's clear the service is invaluable but this current service is inadequate. 


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Significant Reduction to Manor House Library Opening Hours

Last week, many fantastic librarians and library assistants left the library service due to service restructure and redundancies. The campaign would like to thank them for their years of dedicated service to our communities and wish them well in the future.

This week marks the transition of more Lewisham's libraries over to the community model, leaving only three libraries run by the Council.

There are still many uncertainties – after a year of planning by the Council.  Users and Friends of Manor House note that opening hours have been significantly reduced and are still in the dark regarding its future.

"There was some confusion amongst users about what exactly was happening and what exactly they could expect and how they would manage their own services.
We have 2 e-mails on the hook with council staff, with no answers, and we all need to know who is now responsible for the building at the council, now that the library service has abandoned ship.
It was incumbent on that service, while still in charge, to have made clear what the future offer would be, in advance of abandonment.  Instead the staff present on Saturday and Sunday were doing their best to fill the gaps by providing changes to official noticeboards, gates etc.
The Lewisham council website did not seem to have an advance message of these changes on its library pages.  Even today the opening hours shown are the former hours."



Sunday, 16 October 2016

National Libraries Demo 5 November 2016

Save Lewisham Libraries campaigners will be supporting the National Libraries, Museums & Galleries Demonstration

Saturday 5th November, 2016

Meet 12noon outside the British Library, Euston Road.

March to House of Commons for a rally.



We have been making placards...





Support for Libraries from the Labour Party

“I want to give my 100% support for the National Libraries, Museums, Galleries demonstration on Saturday 5 November 2016.
“The Tories have devastated our public services using austerity policies as justification. I promise that a Labour Government will act to ‘in-source’ our public and local council services, increase access to leisure, arts and sports across the country.
“The next Labour government will reverse the damage the Tories have done to our communities in the cities, towns and villages. Libraries, museums and galleries are public assets which help to celebrate and promote the rich cultural diversity of our communities.
“I want to thank the organisers of this event for bring together this social movement to resist the attacks by this Tory government and for promoting these precious public services.”
Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Labour Party

“I want to give my 100% support for the National Libraries, Museums, Galleries demonstration on Saturday 5 November 2016.
This is the kind of social movement Jeremy is talking about, we all need to mobilise, to fight back against austerity policies that are blighting our communities.
The Tories ideological obsession with austerity policies to destroy public services is clear for all to see. They have waged a six year war on our Libraries, our Museums and our Galleries. These valuable public services which reflect, support & celebrate the rich diversity of our communities should be nourished not destroyed.
I give this commitment that under a Labour Government we will reverse the brutal destruction of Libraries, Museums, Galleries.
I will be marching with you on 5 November.”
John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor

Sunday, 21 August 2016

March for Libraries 2

Another great march to tell Mayor and Council 'No ifs. No buts. No more Lewisham library cuts!'

A big thank you to all the library users, Lewisham residents, library campaigns from other boroughs - Lambeth Defend the Ten, Bromley and Barnet. So great to see you all.





Thank you to People's Assembly for the lovely stewards and generous resources.

The campaign continues... if you are interesting in getting involved in the campaign, come along to our next meeting 7pm Tuesday 23 August 2016 at the Catford Constitutional Club.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Article in The Bookseller

Read the latest article about our campaign in The Bookseller

Protest planned over Lewisham library cuts



http://www.thebookseller.com/news/protest-planned-over-lewisham-library-cuts-380911

Why we are marching...again!


Why we are marching for the libraries...again!
This Saturday we will go out once again to march in protest against Lewisham Council’s library cuts. The council has hatched a damaging plan to close four of its remaining libraries and to reopen three as community (volunteer-run) libraries. This would leave us with only three publicly-run and funded libraries, down from 12 five years ago. The councillors rubber-stamped these plans last month and redundancy notices have already been served to library staff. The situation is now critical; if these plans are followed through, they will have a devastating impact on what the libraries are able to deliver, and are likely to lead to their closure.
The attack on public libraries
The attack on libraries is a part of a nationwide attack on public services. Now is the time to raise our voices and use our feet to tell the council we do not approve of their plans; that this is a bare-faced denial of their duty to us as their residents, and that cutting investment in our libraries in this way will leave vast swathes of the local population without access to crucial knowledge, information and assistance.
We do not deny that councils have difficult decisions to make, due to recent austerity measures from central government. Libraries, however, are relatively low-cost services, and the rewards they reap are beyond measurement; in terms of community cohesion; education and literacy; and empowerment. The cuts are unnecessary; the savings are small and the council has a reserve fund.
Libraries matter
The defence of library services is not just a nostalgic middle-class pastime, as two Lambeth councillors implied during the Carnegie Library occupation. We cannot assume that everyone has access to books and to the internet, or the skills to make use of them. We cannot assume that everyone has another space to read in, or another place to go to see a friendly face. The reality is that they don’t. For many people, libraries are their lifeline.
Library users include children who share a room with others and need a quiet place to study, those who do not have digital skills or access to the internet, and those whose librarian is their only point of social contact. Libraries' purposes have changed, but they are still needed. The people who most need libraries are the most marginalised. To disregard their rights to everything that libraries offer is a shocking abuse of power.
Critics of libraries say that libraries are less well used than in the past; of course, fewer people will be visiting a library, since a lack of investment has led to lower quality services and to local library closures. Those that are accessible are heavily used. Every time I enter a library in this borough it is so full that I struggle to find a free table.
We need publicly run libraries
Evidence shows that community libraries are not successful. Figures show that borrowing rates fell by 60-90% between 2010 and 2014 in the libraries Lewisham had already turned into community libraries – substantially greater declines than borrowing rates in council-run libraries. Volunteers, however enthusiastic, do not have the same skills as librarians.
Closing libraries is a false economy; the Defend the Ten campaign reported that Lambeth spent more on closing its libraries than running them. Due to public spending cuts elsewhere, people have come to rely on libraries for help with other things, like filling in or scanning benefits forms. People will still need that kind of support from the council.
The running-down of libraries is also a breach of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, which states that local authorities have a duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient library service’, which must be overseen by Central Government. This highlights a double failure, at two levels of government.
Holding our leaders to account
Just as it is our government and council’s duty to provide public services, it is ours as citizens to hold them to account.
We have a duty to ourselves and to others to demand that our authorities stop handing over the tools that empower us to private companies, which could not care less about us, or to community groups who don’t have the resources to sustain them.
We have the power to withdraw support from those elected representatives who ignore our interests. As the councillors vote in favour of destroying the libraries that so many of us value so highly, they seem unconcerned that the next local elections are less than two years away.  It is up to us to find out which of our candidates supports the services we value, and to vote for them instead.
We also have the right to protest. If you are a library user or if you care about social justice and community, please join us this Saturday 20th August on our march, to fight these unnecessary cuts; cuts which will leave local librarians jobless, us more powerless, and our communities poorer in every way.

Press Release - Council Action to Save Libraries is Overdue


Press release: Council action to save libraries is overdue, say campaigners
 
18 August 2016
For immediate release

Lewisham library lovers will be renewing their efforts to stop council cuts on the afternoon of Saturday 20th August. Demonstrators will meet at 12pm and march from Catford Town Hall to Lewisham Library to protest against the £1 million cut from Lewisham Council’s library budget.

The march is organised by Save Lewisham Libraries, which is calling on Lewisham Council to reverse the cut and reinstate staff at the four libraries currently under threat. The action follows the decision by the council to press ahead with the cut in spite of a public consultation which found that the majority of respondents thought that the cuts should be taken from elsewhere. Save Lewisham Libraries believes that the cut could be easily reversed by using a small percentage of the council’s reserves.

Unless the cut is reversed, Forest Hill, Catford, Torridon Rd and Manor House libraries will lose staff. The council is looking to hand over responsibility for the libraries to community organisations, but the latest programme update shows that these plans aren’t working (1). Where the council can’t find anyone to step in, agency staff with no ties to the community will be brought in – at a greater cost to the council than the experienced staff who are losing their jobs – or staff from other libraries will be asked to step in, leading to substantially reduced opening hours.

Library user and march organiser Ian Crosson said: 
“Despite overwhelming local opposition, the council is pressing ahead with its plans to remove staff from libraries in Hither Green, Forest Hill and Catford. They want volunteers to run the libraries, but we’ve seen borrowing rates plummet where this has happened elsewhere in the borough (2). These plans will bring our libraries dangerously close to being shut down altogether. Volunteer delivered library services simply can’t offer the skilled support, range of materials and safe public space that properly staffed and resourced library branches provide.

“Growing numbers of libraries across London and the UK are being handed over to volunteer groups, and many are in danger of closing their doors for good as a result. In Lewisham we’re sending a clear message that this is not what residents want. Mayor Sir Steve Bullock must now choose whether or not he’ll listen and reverse this damaging cut. We hope he’ll take this opportunity to restore the lifeblood of Lewisham’s communities.”

Saturday’s march follows a demonstration in May, which saw hundreds of local residents march through the borough to show their support for the campaign to save Lewisham’s libraries. The march received widespread media coverage, including by the BBC.

More information about the campaign can be found at http://savelewishamlibraries.blogspot.co.uk/.

Media enquiries:
Rosie Downes, rosanna.downes@gmail.com / @rosannadownes / 07969 664090.

Notes to editors:
1)     The latest programme update from Lewisham Council can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2bdCGLB.
2)
     Borrowing rates in community run libraries in Lewisham declined from 60-90% between 2010 and 2014 - substantially greater declines than borrowing rates in council-run libraries. In Forest Hill Library borrowing fell by just 6% over the same period. Figures can be seen at http://bit.ly/2bn1dyZ

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Build for the Next March

Another march is planned for Saturday 20 August 2016 to protest against imminent devastating cuts to Lewisham Library Services.


Meet 12noon
Behind Catford Town Hall
March to Lewisham Library.

Help us build for the march - we need volunteers to flyer and distribute posters in the next few weeks.  Contact us at savelewishamlibraries@gmail.com

Download the poster to print by clicking here

Sunday, 24 July 2016

A Spirited Solidarity March

Our library workers and campaigners joined a massive march through Bromley Centre on Saturday to protest against the devestating cuts to Bromley public services, including their libraries.  Bromley library workers have been out on strike this week. We march in solidarity...


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Lobby of Full Council

A vocal lobby of the full council on Wednesday evening.



Library users asked probing questions during the meeting. But the councillors rubber-stamped the Mayor and Cabinet's decision to hand over some of our libraries to private enterprises - even though the plans are shambolic and not what the public want.

The fight for our libraries continues...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Defiant Strike and Picket Line

Library workers are on strike today.

The picket lines were supported by Lewisham Library campaigners, raising awareness and collecting signatures for our petition.




Don't miss the important lobby of the Full Council at Catford Town Hall tonight! Meet 6.30pm for 7.30pm Council meeting, when library plans will be discussed and voted on by Councillors.



Monday, 18 July 2016

Press release

----------------------------

Lewisham's library workers will be on strike this Wednesday 20th July and there will be a public lobby outside Catford's Civic Suite at 6:30pm for the Full Council Meeting in which bids for the future of Torridon Road, Manor House, Forest Hill and Catford libraries will be decided.


Council officers have announced that an artist studio company called V22 and two community interest groups are their preferred bids. V22 have bid for Forest Hill Library alongside the Forest Hill Society and a bid has been taken to run Torridon Road Library by a group which has not yet been officially formed. Plans for Catford library and Manor House are unclear, although it is expected that staff will be stretched from the three remaining council-run libraries to cover these with reduced opening hours.
The officers claim that 'good progress has been made' despite having been unable to find community groups to run all four threatened libraries as was promised during a public consultation, a plan which faced a massive opposition and spurred hundreds of people to march from Lewisham to Catford Town Hall in May.
On Wednesday, Councillors and Mayor Steve Bullock will decide if giving public libraries and the literacy and education of its future generations to private interests and precarious, untrained community groups is good progress, or if there is a case for rescuing Lewisham's Library Service during a time of upheaval and dire need.
A growing number of library workers and campaigners continue to fight for libraries as the havens of calm and doorways to learning and opportunity which communities in Lewisham demand.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Leading Artists and Academics Oppose Lewisham Council's plans for Libraries

Leading artists, including a Turner Prize winner, and academics who have taught in Lewisham have lent their voices to the growing campaign that opposes Lewisham Council's plans for our libraries. They outline their concerns in a letter to Councillors and Mayor:


To Lewisham Councillors and Mayor Sir Steve Bullock,

As academics, artists and philosophers who have taught in the borough of Lewisham we write to urge you to reverse the £1m cut from the Library Services budget.

From twelve libraries in 2010, Lewisham council will soon reduce staffed library numbers to three.

We wish to add our voices to the residents, parents and teachers campaigning to secure the literacy, education and freedom of opportunity of future generations in the provision of library services.

Public libraries are needed to provide access to a shared, living culture. Without the grounding provided there, free of private interests, the prospects of Lewisham's coming thinkers and creators will be shortened.

If free access to local culture is withdrawn from aspiring individuals and young families and passed into the hands of the few or those who are themselves precariously positioned, it will surely face stagnation as a result.

From the emancipating student movements and music of the 1960s to the art movements of the 90s and beyond, creativity and positive change in Lewisham has had a national and international impact beginning in its community.

Professionally staffed libraries and the support to local education and culture that they provide are a part of maintaining that effect.

We call on the council to reconsider their plans and use the reserves it has to keep Manor House, Catford, Torridon Road and Forest Hill libraries open for all.

We call on private interests bidding for these public spaces to consider the consequences such action will have on the local community.

Signed by,

Simon Bedwell
Reader in Fine Art
Department of Art
Goldsmiths

Bonnie Camplin
Lecturer In Fine Art/ Art
Department of Art
Goldsmiths

Dr. Catherine Grant
Lecturer, Critical Studies,
Department of Art

Associate Lecturer,
Department of Visual Cultures
Goldsmiths

Phillip Lai
Senior Lecturer in Art
Department of Art
Goldsmiths

Professor Michael Newman
Professor of Art Writing
Department of Art
Goldsmiths
University of London in Europe

Gail Pickering
Reader in Fine Art
Department of Art
Goldsmiths

Dr. Elizabeth Price
Associate Professor in Art
Oxford University
Turner Prize-winning artist

Helena Reckitt
Senior Lecturer in Curating
Department of Art
Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Stella Sanford
Head of Department and Professor of Modern European Philosophy
Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy
Kingston University

Dr. Gilda Williams
Reader,
MFA Curating,
Goldsmiths College
 


Save Lewisham Libraries campaign says No More Austerity - Not To Racism

Some great pictures from the No More Austerity - No To Racism march through London on Saturday 16th July.

Lewisham library workers and campaigners marched alongside many groups including Lambeth's Carnegie Library occupiers and Defend the Ten campaign.

The march culminated with a rally in Parliament Square and inspirational speakers such as Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President (Further Education) who is from Brockley - and gives her support to our campaign.






Thursday, 14 July 2016

A Passionate Lobby





Our lobby of the Mayor and Cabinet meeting was attended by some passionate supporters. Thanks to all who braved the downpours to come and show opposition to the council's cuts. No ifs, no buts! No more Library cuts!

Join us this Saturday at the No to Austerity, No to Racism demo. 12pm BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place W1A 1AA

Let's make our next Lobby of the Full Council meeting on Wed 20th July massive. Meet 6.30pm outside the Civic Suite, Catford SE6 4RU.




Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Lobby of Mayor & Cabinet 13 July 2016


Join our lobby of Mayor and Cabinet 

4.30pm 13 July 2016

Meet: Outside Civic Suite

Town Hall, Catford SE6 4RU

An important opportunity to protest against the Council's shambolic plans to turn over our libraries to third parties. The Mayor and Cabinet will be making decisions about tenders for Lewisham Libraries at this meeting. Make your voice heard. Bring placards and whistles and drums!



Monday, 11 July 2016

People's Day

Hundreds of visitors to People's Day expressed their support for libraries, signed the petition and took away stickers and flyers to distribute.  Several organisations - People's Assembly, People Before Profit, CND and Stop the War Coalition - helped to spread word of the campaign with flyers and t-shirts on their stalls. A great day, building for the lobbies on the 13th and 20th July.

Thanks to everyone for your fabulous support!










Thursday, 7 July 2016

Join Us at People's Day



Save Lewisham Library campaigners will be leafleting People’s Day this Saturday to oppose the council’s plans to turn libraries over to private interests and volunteer organisations and get rid of £1m worth of trained staff. This plan is being run despite concerted opposition from the public during last year’s consultation and a 500-strong march in May.




Campaigners will have Save Lewisham Libraries t-shirts, stickers and leaflets, supporting ‘Free books. Free Space. Free Minds.’ The Literacy Trust has said that children who use public libraries are twice as likely to read at home, and a child’s literacy level is more likely to influence their career in the future than economic factors.



Saturday’s action is to raise awareness for Save Lewisham Libraries’ lobbies of the council on the 13th and 20th of July, and follows a strike on Tuesday which shut three of the threatened libraries for the day. Strikers took action alongside library workers from Greenwich and teachers nationwide, joining the march in Central London.

Questions have already been submitted to ask if Councillors agree with council officers that ‘good progress has been made’ when their original plans to have four volunteer libraries now include a bid from a community interest company that doesn’t even exist and a London-wide artists' studio company to be given free use Forest Hill Library in exchange for an uncertain volunteer service.

Manor House and Catford Library are now to be staffed by a reduced skeleton crew of trained library staff who were initially only recruited to give added support to volunteers. As no suitable organisation could be found for Manor House Library, those Lewisham Libraries workers who have kept their jobs will be stretched even more.

Councillors’ political reputations will be measured on these results, despite it being unelected officers making the improvised and worrying changes.

Celebrate People’s Day by helping protect to your libraries and the unity in our community.

If you can help please contact Save Lewisham Libraries on Facebook or email savelewishamlibraries@gmail.com

Restore Our Library Service

Lewisham's libraries are a well loved and much used service, especially depended on by children.

It is upsetting then, that our libraries have been put through the wringer, and to show for it, issue numbers have fallen more than almost anywhere else in the country in the last five years. Lewisham Council has executed on its misbeggoten decision to cut £1 million from the budget, making most staff redundant whilst outsourcing operations to social enterprises and charities on decades long leases and contracts. And disgustingly, council advances this as an innovative 'opportunity'. It has also been pushing the money under the rug, as outsourced groups who run into cash flow problems are given large council grants, and this is now par for the course.

The Council removed staff from 4 of our libraries in 2016:

Catford, Forest Hill, Manor House and Torridon Road.

Despite the massive public opposition and the first council staff strikes here in decades, they pushed the changes through. This is not forgotten or over. This must be rectified.

Unison was right to believe that the implementation of the scheme would mean:

  • Professional staff will not be available in these libraries
  • Opening times will be reduced
  • If there are not enough volunteers, then libraries will close
  • Library usage and services to the community will be reduced
  • Vulnerable users won’t be able to access library services

They can no longer rightly be called libraries but pale imitations, community centres, thinly veiled property development operations that make a show of meeting a few basic library service functions and relying on volunteers. They stretch the remaining council staff dangerously thin, perhaps popping in to Pepys library once a week to mourn the chaos. Having made these idiotic redundancies so drastically management have had to take on agency staff. They've even trained up at cost new staff, who have handed in their resignation finding the conditions intolerable.

It has left us left three "hub" libraries still very basically council staffed, Lewisham, Deptford Lounge and Downham. Catford often has nobody but the security guards that work in the building, you can't print and can never expect to be able to print, and it is unsafe and unreliable.

In a borough this size it no longer meets our statutory right to a local, accessible, convenient library service.

These hub libraries are under threat of more unsubtle restructures by Bullock and head of the service Anthonio 'they changed my title so I'd have no chance of being sued' Rizzo. We campaign by all our legitimate means, from our right to public assembly, to arguing in surgeries and consultations, to looking into the published books of tender candidates to see what the council turns a blind eye to.

We have perhaps decreased the damange and slowed it down, but council generally has its head in the sand, and the tory government that goes without saying.

In this misinformation, privatisation age libraries are for their users desperately important.

Save Lewisham Libraries urges you to FIGHT FOR LIBRARIES!

Please sign our petition, come to our meetings and developing protests and get involved.