Visit numbers at TSL have doubled in just two years

The latest figures for library performance, from Lambeth Council, show that visits to Tate South Lambeth Library have risen from 93,592 on 2014 to 180,623 in 2016.

That’s a doubling in numbers in just two years (well, just a bit under – a rise of 93%) –  an amazing increase.

We all know why – the enormous rise in the number and frequency of activities at the library, under the leadership of our manager, Maria Kwofie, supported by the hard work and commitment of the library team and local volunteers.

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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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