The Chairman’s and Treasurer’s reports for 2019/20

The Chairman’s report for 2019/20

Covid-19 closes the library’s doors…

All ten of Lambeth’s libraries were shut down on 21st March 2020 in line with government recommendations on social distancing to counter the spread of COVID-19 and, specifically, because of the clear danger to both the general public and library staff from the maintenance of the onsite service.

At the time of writing this annual report there was no immediate prospect of a resumption of all core services to the general public. The Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library look forward to our much loved and valued local library re-opening its doors once the epidemic has abated to safe levels to continue to serve the multiple needs of our diverse community.

… after a year of consolidation

Prior to the shutdown Tate South Lambeth Library had been showing further progress in developing its programmes of activities and facilities.

That progress included:

  • New flooring for the children’s section (replacing the worn-out carpet there)
  • A Portuguese-language reading machine for people with impaired vision or dyslexia
  • New shelving in the first reading room

New activities supported by volunteers included monthly Portuguese conversation classes for beginners, and baby-and-toddler sessions for Japanese-speaking parents and children.

What Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library have done in the past year

In the past twelve months Friends have put on talks and events at the library, covering a wide range of topics, many of them of particular relevance to the local area and the local community.

Here’s the list:

20th May 2019 Family Business: A Memoir by Peter Conradi – the authorised biographer of Iris Murdoch and prolific writer and broadcaster talked about his autobiography.

15th June The Friends annual sale of books donated by local people, with all proceeds going to the library.

2nd September Samuel Johnson and the Lambeth Mysteries – Ross Davies from traced Samuel Johnson’s connections with Lambeth. The talk was preceded by a guided walk led by David E. Coke through the site of Vauxhall Gardens.

2nd October The Age of Stupid – A screening of the famous documentary in partnership with the No Planet B Film Club.

23rd October Vauxhall Tide: Conversations and Creativity Local residents presented and talked about the banner they had created reflecting their lives and histories (The banner remains on display at the library).

13th November Mixed-Race Relationships: A Personal Account– the author Sylvia Vetta explored the dilemmas of identity in mixed-race relationships.

15th November Wall-E – a screening of the Disney Pixar film, in partnership with the No Planet B Film Club.

26th November SW8: The Movie – local resident Andrew Rogers presented a look at our neighbourhood through the lens of cinema and television.

30th November Christmas Craft Market – an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts and decorations produced by local people. Proceeds of the stall rentals went to the library.

7th December Christmas Carol Concert by the Kennington Community Choir.

22nd January 2020 Kimpa Vita – a documentary recounting the previously untold story of the “Mother of the African Revolution, presented by its producer Ne Kunda Nlaba.

15th February 2020 Friends LGBT Fair – a day of arts, crafts, books, zines plus a rainbow cup cake competition and drag queen story time.

End February onwards I am London – an exhibition of watercolours of London scenes by Anthony Mark Peters.

Friends have maintained their contribution to the library’s resources. Donations from members and the proceeds from book sales and our craft fair have paid for the film screening licence for the Movie Matinees held on Tuesdays in autumn and winter, a rug for the children’s area, a large, mobile, television screen, and food and refreshments for children’s parties.

We have added to the stock of magazines – as an organisation through a subscription to The Week and as individuals donating copies of The Economist, New Statesman, Spectator, London Review of Books and Private Eye (among others).

The gardening group has held Open Garden sessions in Tradescant’s Retreat (the courtyard garden at the rear of the library) on the second Saturday of each month during the summer period. People could sit down (sheltered by a gazebo), read, meet the volunteers who tend the garden and share seeds.

Meanwhile, in the hope of influencing the shape and direction of overall library policy and specifically how it affects our library, two members of the committee of Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library have joined delegates from other friends groups at Lambeth libraries in regular meetings with Council officers, the head of the library service and the cabinet member with the libraries portfolio.

In addition Friends have participated in the public library forum, where library managers report on their programmes and activities and local people present questions, challenges and proposals. Friends publicise these events in our newsletter and on our website and report the main conclusions. However, the last 12 months have seen only such forum – in June 2019 – as that scheduled for March 2020 fell victim to the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic.

We say thanks

This is our chance to thank:

  • The staff of Tate South Lambeth Library for making this library a uniquely warm and welcoming place, serving all our diverse local community. We continued to cooperate happily with staff in events and activities put on by the library and also by Friends.
  • All local donors – individuals and organisations -who provided funds, books, magazines, plants, tools, wool, and food for children’s activities.
  • All our speakers, craftspeople and artists.
  • All the local community groups, bloggers, tenants and residents associations. .and local media who help promote our activities.
  • All those individuals who have topped up their annual subscriptions.
  • And, last but not least, all the Friends who have contributed time, ideas and stamina to maintain our programme.

A final reminder

We are always eager to bring new members onto our committee, even in a limited role. Most members of the committee have now been in post for many years, so we’d welcome new people to shake us up. If you are interested, please contact

The Treasurer’s financial statement for 2019/20

Here is the payments and receipts account for the period 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020.

Income Expenses
Opening Balance as at 1/4/19 2,166.18  
Membership fees & donations 217.94 Running costs – p/c  26.99
Other donations: Web and ICT Maintenance and Updates  119.98
Stockwell Festival Stall hire  25.00
Knitting group 25.00 Children’s Library Carpet  196.19
Summer Reading Challenge  56.53
Refreshments for events  197.48
Film screen licence and microphone cables  56.86
Book sales + raffles 271.95 The Week magazine subscription  129.50
LGBT fair- stall rental+donations 174.16 Plants for Jana Hale remembrance  30.45
Market-stall rental + raffle 177.33 Public liability insurance  127.30
total 866.38 total 1,066.28
Closing bank balance as at 31 March 2020 1,966.28


  1. Paypal membership fees for 2019/20 – £509.32 transferred on 28/4/20
  2. Delayed payments – technical difficulties – £168.63 transferred on 6/5/20
  3. With adjustments for items 1 and 2, the bank account stands at £2,644.23.




Tuesday 26th November 7pm (doors open at 6.30pm)

Join local resident Andrew Rogers to look at Vauxhall, Nine Elms, South Lambeth, Stockwell and around through the lens of cinema and television. Find out where some of your favourite films and TV series were shot. Learn about some of the stars who were born here, settled here, or just dropped by.

This multimedia experience will end – for those who fancy it – with a very short walk to our closest iconic movie location, soon to be demolished.

Starring Michael Caine, Charlie Chaplin, Daniel Day Lewis, Dame Judi Dench, Idris Elba, David Hemmings, Joanna Lumley OBE, Virginia McKenna, Roger Moore, Vincent Price, Jane Russell, Frank Sinatra, John Thaw and many more.

Admission free but donations are welcomed.

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

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

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,

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.

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.

Hope for Tate South Lambeth Library?

There’s a glimmer of hope for Tate South Lambeth Library, fated to
become a fee-charging gym instead of a well-used free community
resource for everyone.
It’s a thin hope – but a real one – for all of Lambeth’s doomed libraries.

Lambeth’s awful library plans were officially ‘called in’ at a council
scrutiny cttee on Tues evening, 10th November 2015.

This is the now-notorious plan to reduce five out of ten libraries to a
fraction of their size, with no staff at all, & – even worse – put
fee-charging gyms in three of these. This plan is so absurd it was picked
up by PRIVATE EYE for ridicule.

This in a borough that is already over-supplied with local gyms – and
where proper libraries with staff to help people are badly needed by
the many residents who have little money, need help using ICT to claim
benefits or seek jobs, have poor literacy, disabilities… as well as
the usual small children, schoolkids, young people, old people and
black people who make heavy use of local libraries.

A packed & angry meeting filled about 250 seats at Lilian Baylis
School, Kennington Lane.


Partial victory at least.

We were expecting the usual rubber stamp. Lambeth councillors are
notoriously bullied into always supporting the party line no matter
what. But we got something just a little better….

Cllrs Scott Ainslie (Green) and Tim Briggs (Conservative) patiently
pointed out that money is clearly identifiable to keep the library
service going, while making all the cuts Lambeth demands.

Libraries portfolio holder Cllr Jane Edbrooke and Lambeth officer John
Kerridge addressed none of these points, falling back on their now
totally discredited excuse that they have no choice because of
government cuts. Demonstrably untrue.

It was a pleasure to hear – often – reference to existence of a viable
alternative plan by brilliant head of libraries Susanna Barnes, who
has already transformed a notoriously under-funded service into a London
leader, with a host of extra services and activities, booming demand
and national fame for its unique, ground-breaking facilities for
people with sight problems, enabling them to read independently.

Lambeth officers have sat on this plan and done nothing with it –
while rushing through a ‘plan’ for leisure company GLL to spend over
£1m revenue and £3m capital on the disastrous gyms – for which there
is no business case, no market research – not even a basic feasibilty

Even Lambeth’s cowed committee were interested to know more.

Frustratingly, library campaigners saw them miss by just one vote (5
councillors vs 4) the option to send the whole thing back to Cabinet for

But – remarkably by Lambeth council standards – we did get a decision
to ‘make such recommendations to Cabinet as it sees fit’.
– with a LONG list of recommendations that cover most of the things that
concern us.

Friends of Lambeth Libraries says:
‘Surely we can work with this and easily show how awful AND FINANCIALLY
UNNECESSARY these daft plans are. It is glaringly obvious to anyone
prepared to listen. The council can do itself a favour and re-think.
Or it can face furious opposition from residents all over the borough,
who are marching in their hundreds and signing petitions in their


– what mitigation is planned for the many people disadvantaged by unstaffed
‘neighbourhood libraries’?
– more development work needed on Susanna Barnes’s proposal
– guarantee that ICT access points WITH SUPPORT will be the same or more
– look at alternative plans with ‘much more reflection about what the
community wants’
– need to be ‘a bit more robust’ in dealings with GLL – ‘I’m uncomfortable
that they seem to be taking the lead in this’, said one committee member

Petition to Lambeth Council

If you support us please sign our ePetition to Lambeth Council here:

“We the undersigned petition the council to continue to provide a full library service at Tate South Lambeth Library (TSLL), and to drop the plan to turn TSLL into a gym with minimal, unstaffed book loan facilities”
You can sign this even if you have also signed to keep other libraries in the Borough. Of course we want to keep our library, but Friends of TSL have always argued that all of the neighbourhood libraries should be maintained.