Jemima Foxtrot – a poetry workshop and a play

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Time to question the library managers

Slightly behind schedule (Lambeth library managers are up to their ears in work) the next  library public forum at TSL will be held on Saturday February 17th at 2-4pm.

This is an opportunity for the general public to hear, face to face, the current situation (at Tate South Lambeth and in Lambeth libraries overall) and plans for TSL, with reports from the head of the library service, Susanna Barnes, and TSL’s manager, Dale Arndell.

It’s also a chance to ask questions and make proposals for the service at this library.

Friends of TSL will be asking:

  • what is the progress on repairing the collapsed drain which has kept the public lavatory at TSL out of use for six years?
  • what is the state of play on the – very modest –capital spending programme planned for TSL?
  • what decision has been reached on the proposal – put forward by Friends of TSL – for a multilingual reading machine ( for the visually impaired and those with dyslexia)?

Come along and join in – everyone is welcome.


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Party time!

Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library will be holding our annual party, our traditional Pre-Burns Night celebration.

Wednesday 24th January

7pm Come along to the library and enjoy haggis, neeps and tatties (you’ll find out what they are) and whisky. Plus wine and entertainment. And friendly Friends to meet.

Robbie Burns Night (4288738216)

Serving suggestion (we won’t have pipers but there will be haggis)

Expect Scottish-themed readings, poetry, music, and entertainment. We can celebrate still having a library – and a revenue budget for the library through to 2019 and money for much-needed maintenance works.

But Friends will continue to campaign for the maintenance of full library service at Tate South Lambeth Library beyond March 2019.

As it’s a members only event, we ask that you renew your annual subscription (if you haven’t done so already for July 2017-June 2018) or take out a new one at the door. It’s only £3.

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A heart-rending story – told by the author

On Tuesday March 21st 1815, retired law stationer Orlibar Turner and his wife Margaret, who lived comfortably in Belmont Row, Vauxhall (where St George’s Wharf now stands), crossed the Thames and travelled to Chancery Lane to visit their son Robert and his pregnant wife Charlotte. After dinner all four Turners and their cook-maid Eliza Fenning became extremely ill. The dumplings were soon identified as the cause and Eliza, who had made them, was suspected of poisoning them with arsenic. She was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

At a hasty and shambolic trial Eliza was found guilty and hanged outside Newgate, but the case became one of the most contentious of the time. Many suspected that there had been a deliberate miscarriage of justice.

Local author Naomi Clifford tells the story of Eliza’s short life and the reasons for her death, and talks about her latest book Women and the Gallows 1797-1837: Unfortunate Wretches.

Organised in co-operation with the online archive

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Coming up next: an author speaks

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Changing the lives of the blind and partially sighted – inclusion through libraries

Wednesday November 15th 7.00pm (doors open at 6.30)

A talk by Patrick Roberts, who has won the Lammy Award for the ground-breaking technology training courses he piloted  to prepare visually impaired people for work and to support them to improve their skills.

Patrick can speak from personal experience. His life was changed by the onset of blindness as an adult. Building on the skills he developed at the sessions for the visually impaired, run at Tate South Lambeth Library, he has created a programme that helps bring this group into mainstream society and activity. The programme is delivered through Streatham Tate Library, in a model than can be copied in other public libraries – another case of libraries as unique channels for social inclusion.

Entrance is free, but donations are invited for refreshments.

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An invitation to meet the new manager – and give your views on the library

On Saturday October 28th, from 2 to 4pm, Tate South Lambeth will be hosting its regular library public forum.

Come along to learn what’s happening in the library, how the library is doing and to say what you think about the service. Our new manager, Dale Arndell, will be there, along with Susanna Barnes, the head of Lambeth Libraries and Archives.

Everyone is welcome.

Refreshments are provided.


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Fun Palace ahead

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A farewell party for the library’s star manager

The manager of Tate South Lambeth Library, Maria Kwofie, will shortly be leaving to take up the post of manager at West Norwood Library.

Maria has been an inspiring, innovative, resourceful and energetic manager at TSL. During her term, numbers of visits have doubled, activities have risen sharply, links with the local community have strengthened, and local businesses, large and small, have contributed funds to support special events. All this has been achieved at a library which has been starved of Council investment, while other libraries in Lambeth have received major funding, and where interest and support from local councillors has been almost totally absent.

Friends of TSL  want to give her a send-off to show her how much her work has been appreciated. So come along to our thank-you party at the library on:

Wednesday September 13th at 5-7pm


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Another Fun Palace is coming

Saturday October 7th will see another Fun Palace at the library. This is a festival of fun,  with live music, games, workshops and – of course –a party.

The incoming library manager, Dale Arndell, welcomes your offers– ideas, participation, and donations. Contact him at

And Friends of TSL will be very grateful for donations of items for a tombola it is running at the Fun Palace. Just contact us at or leave an object, labelled to Friends of TSL, at the library desk.

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Carnival time at the Tate Community Market

The Notting Hill Carnival is on August 27-28. Tate South Lambeth library will be holding its own Carnival on Saturday September 2, at the Tate Community Market in Wilcox Close. Come along. Or put up a stall.

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Bring out your books – for Friends annual sale

Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library are holding our annual book sale on Saturday July 29th  (10am-4pm)

Prices are modest – £1 for hardbacks, 50p for paperbacks, 40p for children’s books (with three for £1)

All proceeds will be used to buy equipment or materials for the library or fund special activities.

Please add to our stock of books for sale (all in good condition), by dropping them off at the library desk, in a bag or box clearly labelled Friends Book Sale – by mid-day Friday July 28th .

And come along and buy, and support our library


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Any questions time again

Saturday July 22nd is the date of the next quarterly library forum at Tate South Lambeth Library – your chance to monitor and question our library’s performance, plans and policies, at a public get-together of library managers (the head of service, Susanna Barnes, and TSL’s manager, Maria Kwofie) and local people.

What do you want to hear about? Come along and ask, propose, object – at 2-4pm on July 22nd

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What is the future of our neighbourhood parks? A presentation from park Friends groups

Vauxhall Park 1Wednesday July 12th  7pm (doors open at 6.30)

Public parks – like public libraries – are vulnerable to reductions, even cut-off, in local government funding.  So local people are concerned about the future of two neighbourhood parks – Vauxhall and Larkhall. Two organisations have spearheaded local interest and support, the Friends of Vauxhall Park and the Friends of Larkhall Park.

The chairmen  of the two Friends groups, Charles Vyvyan at Vauxhall and Carl Kowsky at Larkhall, will discuss the current situation at the two parks and the options for their future. They will refer to the present proposals by Lambeth Council for improvements at Vauxhall Park and a new development at Larkhall Park, both of which are now up for public response/consultation ( and

Admission free. Refreshments available


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The 2017 AGM – keep up the fight

Friends of TSL held their annual general meeting, at the library, on May 31st  .

The chairman’s annual report highlighted the tremendous performance of our library in the year since it was saved from conversion to a gym with minimal library provision. In the twelve months ending March 31st 2017  the number of visits reached 192,595, one fifth up on the year before and  double the figure just  two years earlier. It was the fourth busiest public library in Lambeth, outranked only by three of the much bigger and better resourced “town centre” libraries.

And in late 2016 TSL won a Time Out Love London award  as top of the local culture category in our neighbourhood – the only library to do so in South London.

These results are all the more gratifying in that TSL gets very limited resources from the Council and very little interest or backing from councillors (with one exception). At the same time they strengthen  the commitment of Friends of TSL  to keep this a full-service public library, even as library funding is squeezed. So the  focus of our campaign has been to secure confirmation that Council funding will continue after the end of the current financial year – ie March 31st 2018 – and that whatever the still nebulous plans to set up a town centre library in the north of the borough TSL is not marked for demotion or closure.

Library management and staff were thanked for their energy, initiative, hard work and friendliness.

The treasurer’s report showed a slight improvement in our bank balance last year, by just under £200 to £1,477. A contributory factor was the success of the library manager in securing donations from local businesses (including developers at Vauxhall) channelled through Friends of TSL to fund special, community-oriented   events at the library.

In voting for the committee for 2017/18 the following were elected:

Chairman                                         Edith Holtham:

Vice-chairman                                  Laura Swaffield

Secretary                                           Philip Inglesant

Treasurer                                           John McCay

Membership secretary (interim)     Helen Holmes

Other members                                 Jana Hale and Ben Rymer

All of these were re-elections. The chairman stressed that we are very keen to bring new members on to the committee – either taking over existing posts (notably membership secretary) or bringing in new responsibilities. In addition the chairman has had to reduce her commitments to the basic roles of chairing meetings and editing the monthly newsletter, so an immediate vacancy exists for an events organiser .

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The author speaks – Howard Cunnell

As a boy growing up on the south coast of England, Howard Cunnell’s sense of self was dominated by his father’s absence. Now, years later, he is a father, and his daughter is becoming his son. In Fathers & Sons Howard tells the story of the years of self-destruction that defined his young adulthood and the escape he found in reading and the natural world. Still he felt compelled to destroy the relationships that mattered to him. Saved by love and responsibility, Cunnell charts his journey from anger to compassion, as his daughter Jay realises he is a boy, and a son.

Most of all, this is a story about love – its necessity and fragility, and its unequalled capacity to enable us to be who we are. Deeply thoughtful, searingly honest and exquisitely lyrical, Fathers & Sons is an exploration of fatherhood, masculinity, authenticity and family.

The talk- which is part of the this year’s Lambeth Readers and Writers Festival –  is on Wednesday May 24th starting at 7pm (doors open at 6.30) 


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Any questions time at the library

The next public library forum is on Saturday April 29th  from 2pm to 4pm. The head of Lambeth libraries, Susanna Barnes, and Tate South Lambeth Library’s manager, Maria Kwofie, will give an update on what’s happened at the library, its performance, and plans for the future. This is the opportunity for the general public – both users of the library or non-users  -to state their questions, proposals – and complaints.

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English Heritage Festival Limerick competiton April 2017

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A festival to celebrate English heritage and history

English Heritage Festival 2To mark St George’s Day and the birthday of William Shakespeare – both on April 23rd – Tate South Lambeth Library, backed by local businesses, organisations and  volunteers, is putting on an English Heritage Festival, over the period April 22nd  to April 29th.

The presentations, workshops and activities are all free of charge.Here’s the programme.


Saturday April 22nd

Activities in Wilcox Close

Displays in the arena (to be temporarily roped off) include demonstrations of skill at arms in a tournament, the training and arming of knights and –weather permitting – medieval dancing

11.30am -12 am Punch and Judy puppet show

11am-4pm Games – Medieval stocks , Skittle alley and Throw the hoops

2.00-2.30pm Morris dancing

2.40-3.05pm Punch and Judy puppet show

Performances, competitions and games inside the library

11am-1pm Facepainting

11am-11.20am In-Harmony Ensemble

12 -12.30 Kennington Community Choir

12.30-1.30pm Passamezzo (Shakespeare’s music)

2-4pm Facepainting

2-2.15pm Guess the name of the dragon

2.15-2.35pm Medieval fancy dress competition

2.40-3pm Shakespeare Readings

3.05-3.25pm Limerick competition announcement

Guess the weight of a cake

3.30-4pm  A capella performance

Exhibitions inside the library

Four displays are planned – on St George (the English, Portuguese and Polish  versions) and  on Shakespeare

Activities in the neighbourhood

Sunday April 23rd

 A Vauxhall riverside guided history walk, led by lcal historian, publisher and activist, Sean Creighton  (organised by the Vauxhall Society in cooperation with Friends of TSL) – 10.30 am sharp at the library.

This walk will centre on the St George Wharf/ MI6 stretch of the Vauxhall riverside and cover local history, past and present, in particular the question of local identity.

Monday April 24th

Classes from two local primary schools will be attending a presentation – with participation – on three famous Shakespeare plays (Romeo and Juliet, Henry V and A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Saturday April 29th

Tea and a tour of Brunswick House – 11am



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The library market is back

Poster - Tate Community MarketWith the arrival of spring and warmer weather, the Tate Community Market is back again on Saturdays, every two weeks, in Wilcox Close just beside the library.

The market is now managed and coordinated by the Business Women Network UK, in a cooperation with Tate South Lambeth Library that will generate income to support our local library.

At the sessions in April (on the 8th and the 22nd, from 10am to 4pm) there’s an extra – live music – to add to the familiar market produce (food, wine, arts and crafts, health and beauty products).


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A crime writer spills the beans

Wednesday March 29th  7pm (doors open at 6.30)

John Nightingale, author of The Appearance of Murder, selected as one of John Nightingale Mar 29 2017 The Times books of the year in 2015, talks about his life and his writing.

Admittance free. Refreshments available.

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London in Fragments: A Mudlark’s Treasures

Have you ever walked over a London bridge and looked down to see the tide was out on the river, and the freshly exposed beaches were dotted with little hunched figures, picking their way across the foreshore?

London in Fragments coverThose figures were likely to be Thames beachcombers, called mudlarks, searching among the flints and gravel for fragments of London’s history. The River Thames is astonishingly generous with the bounty that it gives up to those who look for it.

Every community that lived by its banks has left traces in the river’s mud: Bronze Age swords, sacrificed to its waters; Roman pottery, broken and thrown away, and monumental statuary, iconoclastically disposed of; Tudor gold; Georgian pipes; Victorian everything.

Today’s mudlarks set out to find these traces, as they’re churned up by the Thames’ tides.


Do you fancy joining them? Or just finding out about the history found along the nearby river banks?

Come along to an illustrated talk by Ted Sandling, author of London in Fragments.

Michael Leapman, prolific writer and journalist – and a well-known local resident – will provide an introduction.

Wednesday February 8th  7pm (doors open at 6.30)

Admittance free. Refreshments available.

This talk is jointly organised by Friends of TSL and the Vauxhall Society.

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A welcome to – and from – our US neighbours (and neighbors)

2017 will see the arrival of an important new neighbour for the library – the new US embassy in Nine Elms, now in the final stages of construction.

Against this background the embassy is developing its relations with the local community – for which Tate South Lambeth library is an ideal channel.

First the library received an offer of one hundred books. This was followed by a presentation on November 2nd on US politics, society and culture by Jennifer Williams, press officer at the embassy. The audience comprised over fifty Sixth Form students from two Lambeth schools: Archbishop Tenison and Dunraven. The presentation was interactive, with the students registering their perceptions and raising questions.


Jennifer Williams from the US embassy meets Kate Hoey MP and students from local schools.

The dialogue was enlightening for both sides. Kate Hoey, Vauxhall’s MP and a staunch supporter of libraries, came along to meet the speaker and the students.

We hope that further links will be forged with the US embassy and its staff in the years to come.

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We are the Champions!

Tate South Lambeth Library has been voted winner among “local culture” venues in South Lambeth in Time Out magazine’s Love London 2016 ballot.

This is particularly pleasing because TSL is not just the only Lambeth library to win in the local culture category, it is the only one in South London. (North London got one winner too.)

So thanks to everyone who sent Time Out your votes for TSL. And a big thanks to the staff and volunteers who make this library so welcoming, diverse – and special.

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It’s time to party

Friends of TSL are holding their annual party on Friday December 9th (7-9pm) .

Technically this is a party for Friends – but everyone is welcome to enjoy seasonal food and drink, and entertainment by the ever popular Kennington Community Choir.

If you’re not a paid- up member of Friends of TSL (for the year July 2016-June 2017)  just renew or take out a new one-year Friends membership subscription at the door. It’s only £3.

party-2016 Kennington Community Choir

Kennington Community Choir

And feel free to contribute food and drink to the party.

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Get unique Christmas gifts at the library’s craft market



aturday December 3rd is the date for the Tate South Lambeth Community Christmas Craft Market – timed just right for you to buy gifts, cards and decorations for Christmas.

Come along between 10am and 4pm and see the range of crafts made by local people – jewellery, stained glass, artworks, cards, decorations, knitting, sewing and more. The Friends gardening group will also have items for sale.

If you want to rent a stall (it’s a modest £5) please contact either Friends ( or the library manager, Maria Kwofie (

One extra feature this year is  a raffle to raise funds for the library’s activities. So please contact the library manager to offer a prize. And of course buy tickets at the market.

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News from the library forum: good in some parts, dire in others

The October 22nd public library forum at TSL (where managers present a rundown of what has happened at the library, its performance, and plans for the future) gave us reason to rejoice, but also grounds for continuing concern.

The good news first. Our library’s performance figures remain very strong, In the first six months of the current financial year (April to September 2016) the number of visits rose by almost two fifths (37.6%) on the year-earlier level (which was already very high). The number of books borrowed was up by one tenth on the year before. This growth runs counter to national trends (in fact, the Lambeth library service as a whole is one of the best performing in the country – despite all the spending cuts). The six-month figures put TSL in fourth place in Lambeth, on the tails of the three much larger, much better resourced “town centre” libraries at Brixton, Clapham and Streatham.

The stellar visitor numbers are not surprising given the  energy and initiative of our manager, Maria Kwofie, in expanding the range of activities at the library (particularly those aimed at young people) and stimulating cooperation with community institutions and groups.

But clouds still hover over the library’s future – specifically after March 2018.

In March this year Lambeth Council designated Tate South Lambeth and Durning, the two remaining full-service libraries in the north of the borough, interim joint “town centre” libraries for this area – interim until a new single library has been set up in their place. The estimated date for this was 2022. So we had a 5-6 year reprieve.

However, the current level and character of the library service at these two locations seems guaranteed only until March 2018. Funding at the current level is available only until that date. What happens then? No-one can tell us.

In  this situation, Friends of TSL restates its support for the mutual trust proposal drawn up by Susanna Barnes, the head of the library service. This proposal would maintain a full library service throughout the borough, within the reduced funds that Lambeth is prepared to allocate to libraries. TSL and Durning would continue in place. There is time to sort out all the details and get the trust in place by March 2018.

Another approach by Friends of TSL relates to the Council elections in May 2018. We will ask all the local candidates to state their position on the maintenance of a  full library service at TSL (not a self-service facility in one room, as is the case at Waterloo and seems to be envisaged for both Carnegie and Minet). We will report their answers.

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Art, Science and Traditional Craft: City & Guilds of London Art School

A presentation by Tamiko O’Brien, Principal of City and Guilds of London Art School. The Art School is located in our neighbourhood (in Kennington Park Road), an area that is taking its place on the map of the contemporary art scene.


City & Guilds of London Art School

Tamiko will trace the evolution of the Art School’s ethos, what it stands for and its future – all of which make this a unique place that deserves fighting for.


Tamiko O’Brien

Tamiko O’ Brien’s career covers both art education and academic leadership, and art practice – her sculptures have been exhibited in the UK, Netherlands, Italy and Japan. She has curated exhibitions, most recently 14 days 119 years later at the Danielle Arnaud Gallery in Kennington Lane, an exhibition which included new works by contemporary Japanese artists and wood block prints from the 18th century.

This is a joint Friends of TSL/Vauxhall Society event.

Wednesday November 9th 7pm (doors open at 6.30).

Admission free. Refreshments available

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Library Forum 22nd October

Find out what’s going on at the library


Tate South Lambeth community market

dtvip-4At the library forum on Saturday October 22nd, from 2pm to 4pm, library managers will present a rundown of what’s happened and is happening at the library, its performance, and plans for the future.

This is the opportunity to put your questions, proposals – and complaints. Everyone is welcome to attend.
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Pan Worldwide: film screening and director’s Q&A

On Wednesday October 12th, starting at 7pm, you can see the second section of a two-part documentary – Panomundo – that explores the history of the steelpan, the emblematic music of Trinidad-Tobago, and its global influence.

Three years ago, a screening at Tate South Lambeth Library of Panomundo Part 1: The Evolution of the Steelpan introduced how the steelpan became an integral part of Trinidad-Tobago society, gaining international recognition at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

panomundo-filmPanomundo Part 2: Pan Worldwide traces the impact of the music internationally. The documentary includes interviews with Earl La Pierre Sr, Russell Henderson, Cliff Alexis, Michael “Mannish” Robinson, Lennox “Boogie” Sharp and Chief Bowie S Bowie.

The director will be there to talk about the documentary and answer your questions.

Free of charge. Refreshments available.

This screening, a cooperation between the library service and Friends of TSL, is part of Lambeth’s Black History Month programme.
For full details see the brochure at or pick up a copy at the library desk

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Fun Palace


Saturday 1st October 2016

10:00 – 4:00 pm

Food and drink, face-painting, storytime sessions, live music, dance performances, balloon modelling, cake competition, cycle safety awareness, gaming club – Playstation4, knitting workshop, information stalls, raffle, and much more …

Tate South Lambeth Library, 180 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1QP

020 7926 0705


Bake-off competition to win a slap-up tea for two at the Tea House Theatre, Vauxhall Lane.
Just bring a cake you’ve made containing fruit – top or bottom or inside – to the library, between 4pm and 6pm on Friday September 30th. A local expert will select the winner, who’ll be announced at 2 pm on Saturday. Everyone will then eat the entries at a party in the library. You’ll be very popular. Contact

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A new window on old Vauxhall

The official launch of Vauxhall History, a free online community archive of eyewitness accounts, articles, images and original documents, backed by the Vauxhall Society.

Tuesday September 6th – 7pm (doors open at 6.30)

This is a get-together for anybody interested in Vauxhall Past. Join readers and writers of Vauxhall history and guests who include:

Vauxhall History talk

  • David Coke, author of Vauxhall Gardens: A History. David will talk about the first three Vauxhall Bridges (today’s is the fourth) and a treasure trove of 1815 Vauxhall Bridge Company share certificates that has just come to light.
  • Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London. Alex will go back to Victorian times when the Vauxhall manufacturer Doulton & Company turned from making sewer pipes to fine-art pottery, along the way making of Vauxhall a centre for creative artists, potters and sculptors.
  • Naomi Clifford, whose real-life Regency mystery and tale of Old Kennington, The Disappearance of Maria Glynn, has just been published by Pen & Sword History.

The Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library will act as host for this event. This library and the Tate Gallery are the gift of a Victorian resident of Streatham, the sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate. Both are the work of the architect Sidney Smith.

Edith Holtham, chairman of Friends of TSL, has written an account of Lambeth Council’s long history of trying to do away with TSL, a vital community resource, which will be’s September feature.

This event features in this year’s Lambeth Heritage Festival. Details of other events in this month-long festival can be found at

Admission free. Refreshments available

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Comrades, brothers and pioneers: the first public librarians in London

Michelle Johansen, researcher and writer on Victorian public libraries, tells the forgotten stories of the pioneering generation of public librarians in London – who  helped create the “universities of the people”.

Among these was Frank Burgoyne who managed the newly established public libraries in Lambeth – including Tate Free Library in South Lambeth Road (our beloved Tate South Lambeth Library).

victorian libraries Sep 2016Michelle recounts how the first library managers took charge of their rate-supported institutions and  worked together to refine emerging library systems – arguing bitterly about best practice.

Many of them lived in residential quarters over or alongside their libraries. Most of them had moved to London from outside the city and were isolated from friends and family members. She traces their self-taught backgrounds, early career paths and friendship bonds, and describes their library living quarters.

Wednesday September 14th   7pm (doors open at 6.30)

Admission free. Refreshments available

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Unlock your hidden artist: a drawing class at the library

Tom Hughes, the new member of staff at Tate South Lambeth, will be running a Beginner’s Drawing Class on Fridays from 10:30am to 12 noon.

This will involve drawing from  still-life with pencils and paper. The emphasis will be on basic traditional drawing skills rather than creativity, but the inner artistic genius in everyone usually comes out in the end!

There will be a £2 charge per person – and  the chance to exhibit some of the drawings in the library for those who wish to.

For more information contact Tom at 0207 926 0705 or – or drop by at the library

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Your Library needs YOU

The committee of Friends of TSL will have empty spaces coming up in the next six months, as some members leave the area or take on pressing family or work commitments.


So we’re looking for volunteers to:

  • develop and run our programme of talks (in cooperation with the Vauxhall Society)
  • pursue fundraising opportunities
  • run the art exhibitions in the Tate Local gallery area
  • take on the role of membership secretary
  • come up with ideas for future activities- and take them forward

Sounds daunting?

Not really. You can job-share any of these roles. You’ll have the cooperation and support of committee members as well as a list of non-committee Friends. And you’ll be helping your neighbourhood by strengthening a library that we all treasure.

Interested? Want to know more?

Please contact Friends at

… or leave a note marked Friends of TSL at the library desk.

(Image by Eybl, Plakatmuseum Wien/Wikimedia Commons /Commons-logo.svg, Public Domain,

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Library Forum July 2016

The library forum reports no progress so far on renovation and repair… face-25508_640

The public library forum held on July 30th 2016 reported no forward movement on the renovation of the library or the repair of the non-functioning public lavatory. However the head of library services, Susanna Barnes, was able to assure the meeting that some progress should be realised during the next few months.

Tate South Lambeth Library will be the beneficiary (with Durning Library) of furniture from the now closed down Waterloo Library. And the allocation to the library service of some £200,000 in Section 106 funds should allow the installation of new signage (originally approved almost two years ago) at TSL and other libraries.

But no major spend is scheduled for TSL – in contrast to the £800,000 that is due to be invested in Durning, our partner as “interim joint town centre” library for the north of the borough.

As for the defunct public lavatory, although Thames Water and Lambeth Council have agreed on work to tackle the underlying problem – defective drains – they have still not scheduled action. The library manager, Maria Kwofie, will continue to pester them.

…but our library’s performance continues to be brilliant emoticon-1392276__340

The meeting was much more encouraged by Ms. Barnes’ report on our library’s performance in the first two months of the current financial year (April and May 2016).

Visits at TSL, at 33,000, were up by 65% – two thirds – on the level in the same months of 2015. The increase in numbers is all the more spectacular since it comes on top of high numbers in April-May 2015, when the year-on-year rise was just over one third. TSL thus remains in fourth position among all Lambeth libraries – just behind the much larger, better resourced, and longer-hours town centre libraries at Brixton, Clapham and Streatham.

Meanwhile the growth in borrowing has risen, to around one quarter (year year) in April –May 2016, up from 8% in the 12-month period April 2015-March 2016. With the closure of Carnegie Library at the end of March this year, TSL has moved up to fourth place among borrowings in the Lambeth library service.

While the spectacular growth at TSL may owe something to “refugees” from Minet library, also closed down at end March, the fact remains that TSL is the star performer among all Lambeth libraries.

Another positive bit of news was the take-up of the Summer Reading Challenge at TSL. As of the end of July 300 children had signed up to this programme which maintains and develops their reading skills during the summer holiday break. Maria Kwofie is confident that she can push up this number further.

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TSL’s very own carnival

The last Sunday and Monday of August is the date for the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s biggest street party. Tate South Lambeth Library is to run its own version – a community festival on Saturday August 27th.

Carnival pic smallerThe Tate Carnival, which runs from 10am to 4pm, will feature:

  • Food and drink
  • Live music
  • Face-painting and a kids fun zone
  • Craft stalls

The programme is still being put together, and there’s room for more stalls and more activities. Interested in running one? Contact Tedros at or call him at 020 7926 0705 to find out more and to make a booking.

This will be a great day to enjoy yourself, meet other members of the local community – and support our library.

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The 2016 AGM – relief mixed with anxiety

Friends of TSL held their annual general meeting, at the library, on May 18th 2016.

The chairman’s annual report highlighted the battle to save the library from Lambeth Council’s plan to convert it into a “healthy living centre” – a fee-paying gym with a small, undefined area dedicated to a few bookshelves, a few computers and with no on-site staff. The library was due to be shut at the end of March. However a consultation on this proposal showed a massive majority (95% in the returns at TSL, and 80% overall) opposing the plan. Taking other – undefined- factors into account Lambeth Council abandoned its proposal. TSL, along with Durning library in Kennington, is now to be the interim “town centre” for the north of the borough, pending the establishment of  a new single library (scheduled for 2022).

Members at the meeting expressed their relief at this outcome, but also their continuing concern about the council’s intentions for our ;library – both the current one (no-one favoured the limitation of library service to a single library located  some distance away from the much better placed TSL) and any other “surprise” fate before 2022. The meeting agreed that we must be eternally vigilant.

The chairman outlined Friends’ activities in the past year, with sixteen talks and events, exhibitions in the art gallery area, and contributions to the library’s resources, including  a console and games for the teen programme, four gazebos for the planned library market and a laptop bar (jointly with Vauxhall CIC).

Library management and staff were thanked for their energy, initiative, hard work and friendliness.

The treasurer’s report showed a rundown in our bank balance last year, by around £2,300 to £1,297. This reflected outgoings on the campaign to save the library, the carryover of spending on Portuguese women’s workshops and the neighbourhood map, and two major purchases for the library ( gazebos for the community market and games for the teen club).

Below-the-line figures include a mutual trust/campaign kitty that was created after people signed up to the staff/community trust proposed by the head of library service. These funds – amounting to £257 – are kept in trust by Friends. Despite Lambeth Council’s rejection of the staff/community trust proposal, the meeting agreed that Friends of TSL should retain this special fund while the future of the library service in Lambeth (now under review by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports) is unclear.

(Both reports can be read on our website

In voting for the committee for 2016/17 the following were elected:

Chairman                                         Edith Holtham

Vice-chairman                                  Laura Swaffield

Secretary                                           Philip Inglesant

Treasurer                                           John McCay

Membership secretary                     Helen Holmes

Portuguese Outreach Officer        Patricia Marcelino

Other members                                 Jana Hale and Ben Rymer

All of these were re-elections. The chairman stressed that we are very keen to bring new members on to the committee – either taking over existing posts or bringing in new responsibilities.

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On the Wings of Love? Fugitive marriage in the Georgian era

Wednesday May 25th 7.00pm (doors open 6.30pm)

 Naomi Clifford’s recently published book The Disappearance of Maria Glenn tells the true story of the mystery surrounding the abduction of a teenager in 1817. What seemed a simple newspaper report of elopement gone wrong turns out to be a rollercoaster story of crime, coercion, illusory triumph and fraudulent defeat.

The author will talk about this book, and also about the work she is now researching – on women who went to the gallows in the early 19th century.

Naomi has lived in Stockwell for 25 years and is a well known community activist and writer.Under the name Naomi Lourie Klein, she wrote These Were Our Sons: Stories from Stockwell War Memorial, published in 2012.

 Naomi Clifford_edited-2This talk is jointly organised by the Friends of TSL and Lambeth Libraries, forming part of May’s literary festival at Lambeth libraries.

 Admission free. Refreshments available.

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Defending the Ten: 10 days of the #Carnegie occupation

Tate Local – the gallery space in Tate South Lambeth library – is hosting an exhibition of documentary photographs by Richard Baker about the occupation of Carnegie Library in Herne Hill in April 2016.

After 110 years of library service at Carnegie, Lambeth Council closed this Grade II listed building on April 1st 2016 to turn it into a health facility centred on a gym. Local residents strongly objected and a group protested with a sit-in at the library. The group –multi-age, multi-ethnic – received support, not only from other locals but throughout London and far beyond. After ten days, when Lambeth Council had secured an eviction order, the occupiers left the building peacefully and joined over 2,000 people in a protest march to Brixton town hall.

These photos tell their story.


This exhibition is sponsored by the Friends of Carnegie Library , a fellow member with Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library of the Defend the Ten campaign to maintain all Lambeth’s ten libraries.




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Come and have your say at our AGM on May 18th

The annual general meeting of Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library willAGM be held at the library on Wednesday May 18th , starting at 6.30pm

The meeting starts with the standard “official” items: reports by the chairman and the treasurer for the past year (2015/16), followed by elections to next year’s committee ( for which we welcome newcomers).

Next comes an open discussion on items of interest and concern, raised by the committee members, Friends membership and anyone else.

Everyone is welcome to join in the discussion, but only paid- up members have a vote. So now’s the time to take out or renew membership. It’s only £3 (unchanged since 2000).

Please send a cheque, payable to Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library, to The Treasurer of Friends of TSL, 37 Abbot Court, London SW8 2BH or drop off your payment (cheque or cash) at the library desk, in an envelope marked Friends of TSL. Please include your name, address, telephone number and, if available, email address.

Alternatively you can pay electronically via Paypal: go to and click on Join Us!

Or – finally- come along to the AGM and pay as you come in.


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Visits to Tate South Lambeth rose by two thirds last year

The rise in the number of visits to Tate South Lambeth Library continues at the top of the league of Lambeth libraries – further confirmation of the immense popularity of our local library.

In the 12 months April 2015- March 2016 visits to the library were up by a spectacular 65% (ie two thirds) on the year earlier period. The number was just over 160,000 – or an average of over 13,000 a month. This puts our library in fourth place amongst Lambeth’s ten libraries, behind the “big three” town centre libraries (Brixton, Clapham and Streatham). These libraries are much better resourced than TSL and are open for many more hours each week (56 against TSL’s 39). If you look at visits per hour – a fairer measure – TSL is biting at Streatham’s heels. In March the TSL figure was 82 visits per hour; Streatham’s was 86.

And Lambeth was planning to close this top performer?

TSL’s results stand out, but the library service in Lambeth as a whole has reason to congratulate itself. Yet again – for the third year in succession – it has bucked the national trend of decline, with visits to libraries up by 7% year on year and book borrowings up by 5% (TSL’s borrowing figures rose by a slightly stronger 8%). This after a period of swingeing cuts in spending on our libraries. So the head of the service, Susanna Barnes, and library managers (especially TSL’s Maria Kwofie) are getting it right. Respect and gratitude are owed to them.

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Plans for modest – but long-awaited- spending on the lbrary

It looks as though – at long last – Lambeth Council will spend some money on the library’s building and its facilities.

That was the message from the head of Lambeth libraries, Susanna Barnes, at the library public forum on April 23rd .

The work to be done consists of:

  • Sorting out the drains so that the public lavatory operates all the time (this is after six years of intermittent, and increasingly reduced, service). This is now feasible as Thames Water has accepted responsibility.
  • Redecorating the entrance hall, which has been damaged by water access from the flat above (and ensuring that damage does not recur)
  • New signage, external and internal
  • New furniture ( shelves, chairs etc)
  • Securing the building against rain and water access

While Friends of TSL will be urging further renovation – notably wall repainting and re-carpeting, particularly in the children’s area – this is good news for the library, after three years or more of unrealised plans for basic renovation.

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Covent Garden Nine Elms – then, now and in the future

Wednesday February 17th 7pm (doors open at 6.30)

Covent Garden Market Authority’s Helen Evans gives an update on the explosion of activity that is Nine Elms/Vauxhall’s New Covent Garden Market.

This talk is organised by Friends of TSL in cooperation with the Vauxhall Society

Admission free. Refreshments available

NCGM v02b - Night 20140514

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The Council clings to its blinkered libraries policy –

On January  27th Lambeth’s Labour councillors – who have an overwhelming majority on the Council – voted yet again to support the library policy set out in the Culture 2020 document.

They approved an amendment, by Councillor Jane Edbrooke, to a motion supporting the mutual trust proposal from the head of Lambeth Libraries, presented by the Green Party councillor, Scott Ainslie.  Edbrooke butchered the Ainslie motion, removing both the reference to the “town centre” libraries already being full to capacity and having to turn away people, and the endorsement of the mutual fund proposal that would keep all ten libraries in operation, yet make the savings required by the Council.

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– but is it also putting up a smokescreen?

During the Council session on January 27th Councillor Edbrooke stated that an independent expert would now evaluate the feasibility of the staff/community mutual fund proposal.

That sounds encouraging.

Deceptively so.

Councillor Edbrooke gave no indication as to how long this evaluation would take.

The suspicion of all the library friends groups campaigning to keep a ten-library service   is that the consideration will be so long-drawn out that the Council will claim that it is too late to implement the proposal in the next financial year (in fact the amended motion states the proposal must be operational by April).

The record is not encouraging.

The mutual fund proposal was first presented  in April 2015, in summary form, in the consultation on Lambeth’s cultural services policy.

There was no response from Council officers, until October 2015 when they unveiled their own proposals (which removed funding from half of Lambeth’s libraries)  and rejected the mutual fund proposal.

In late November 2015 and responding to political pressure and public outrage, Council officers commissioned Ms Barnes to work up the proposal.

The proposal was delivered at the beginning of January 2016.

Four weeks later no assessment has been forthcoming.

One disturbing feature is that the Council side seems to want the proposal to be developed for implementation some years down the line – and for five town centre libraries only, as by then all the other libraries will have ceased to exist.

Library Friends groups in Lambeth are totally against such a revision of the proposal.

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A proposal that will save all Lambeth libraries – and meet the Council’s budget target

Library demo Dec 18 - 2

At the beginning of January 2016 Susanna Barnes, head of libraries, sent Lambeth Council officers her plan to maintain a full service at all ten of Lambeth’s libraries, while making all the savings required by the Council in the next four years, on a financially sound calculation.

This would be achieved through a staff/community mutual trust, on a pattern developed in other parts of the country.

The background

The proposal was first put to Lambeth officers in April 2015, during the public consultation on the Council’s proposals for cultural services policy to 2020. It was not taken up by Council officers, who instead put forward their proposal for half of Lambeth’s libraries to become library service points, with minimal book and computer provision and no staff, and with three of these to be centred on a gym. Their proposal – set out in the document Culture 2020 – was approved by the Council last October. However Council officers were forced – by popular pressure and the recommendations of  a Council committee –to offer an opportunity to the Libraries  manager to develop her proposals.

The next steps

The mutual trust proposal is now on the table. Discussions between Ms Barnes and Council officers will take place in January.  As soon as the proposal is made public – we hope before the end of January – Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library will post the link on this website, and invite you to join us in full support.

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