A report on our Annual General Meeting – with some good news

Friends of TSL held their annual general meeting, at the library, on May 22nd .

The chairman’s annual report reaffirmed Friends’ commitment to campaigning for the maintenance of a full public service library at the Tate South Lambeth building. The report highlighted the threat represented by current Lambeth Council plans to set up a new “town centre” library elsewhere in the north of the borough and the downgrading of our library to a “neighbourhood” library along the lines currently in place at three other sites in Lambeth. (This is a library facility confined to one room in a mixed use building, and with professional library staff in place only two hours per day.) Friends are seeking  a commitment from the Council to maintain funding at current levels at least until the 2022 date envisaged for the coming into operation of the North Lambeth library.

Library management and staff were thanked for their energy, hard work and friendliness.  A vote of thanks was also accorded to Lino Diogo and his team of teachers – all unpaid volunteers- in the Basic English classes at the library.

The treasurer’s report showed a substantial increase in our income last year, while spending remained steady. This boosted our bank balance by around £3,380 to £4,858 at end March 2018. The rise in income reflected support for library activities from Castle House Sheltered Scheme and the Vauxhall Society and the award of a grant from the London Community Foundation for the English classes for Portuguese speakers.

In voting for the committee for 2018/19 the following were elected:

Chairman                             Edith Holtham

Vice-chairman                      Laura Swaffield

Secretary                               Philip Inglesant

Treasurer                               John McCay

Membership secretary         Helen Holmes

Other members                                 Jana Hale, Lyn Robbins and Ben Rymer

A special for this AGM – a presentation by the libraries’ head of service

Susanna Barnes, the head of Lambeth Libraries and Archives, presented an encouraging run down of the service’s performance over the past year, when Tate South Lambeth recorded higher than the overall service rates of growth in borrowing and new membership.

Even more encouraging was the list of innovations that have been or are shortly to be introduced, including at Tate South Lambeth. The list set out by Ms Barnes included: PressReader (online access at the library to 7,000 newspapers and magazines from 120 countries in over 50 languages); an online  business information service, in partnership with the British Library, providing help for start-ups; a 3D printer; Tovertafel ( a visual tool for people with dementia); and  the Holiday Hunger Project, proving food over school holiday periods for disadvantaged children. All except the printer free of charge. In addition new computers will be installed at TSL in September-October.


Our library – and the Council elections on May 3rd

The Defend the Ten campaign, which works to support all Lambeth’s ten libraries, has produced VOTE LIBRARY pledge cards for the local elections on May 3rd.

The card makes five simple demands which, if fulfilled, would put Lambeth’s library service back on a sensible footing for the future.

It boils down to asking for fully-staffed libraries (like Tate South Lambeth) to be maintained, or restored where they have been lost (as at Waterloo). And no peculiar ideas, such as the gym proposed for TSL, which was averted after strong local opposition.

The idea is for residents of Lambeth to approach candidates from all the parties and ask them to sign – any time they are encountered, and definitely when they turn up at hustings!

For those with smartphones, Defend the Ten would love to receive selfies showing candidates with the cards. No doubt the candidates will be happy to do it themselves…

TSL committee member Laura will be collecting the selfies ( at lswaffield1@gmail.com). She would also be grateful to be told about any selfie-less signings. There are hundreds of candidates, so reaching them all will be quite a job.

Paper copies (postcard size) can be picked up at the Friends noticeboards in the library lobby. The pledge can also be downloaded from the Defend the Ten website (http://defendthe10-lambeth.org.uk)

Separately  Friends of TSL have put two specific questions to candidates in Oval and Stockwell – the prime catchment area for Tate South Lambeth library – on their stance on its future.

They are:

1.Do you support the continuation of a full public library service, with permanent on-site professional library staff, at Tate South Lambeth Library, 180 South Lambeth Road?  

2. Will you maintain this support if elected as councillor in May 2018?  

These are straightforward questions, requiring a yes or no answer.

They are also carefully phrased, to make it clear what sort of library provision we are talking about – full public library service, with permanent on-site professional library staff –ie what we get at Tate South Lambeth Library. We are not talking about a “neighbourhood library”, which is what is currently in place at three of Lambeth’s libraries –  Waterloo, Minet and – incompletely- Carnegie. This is a library facility confined to one room in a mixed use building, and with professional library staff in place only two hours per day. This type of library does not offer constant, on-site support and help from trained librarians, particularly important to novice computer users, nor a safe environment for unaccompanied children, nor the space needed to deliver valuable services to the community such as sessions for school classes, and in TSL’s case advice and training sessions for the visually impaired and classes in English for foreign language speakers.

Current Lambeth Labour policy is to confine full public library service to five locations, with TSL downgraded to a “neighbourhood library”. That is why we have put these questions to candidates in Oval and Stockwell, and why we want clear answers.

Here are the answers Friends of TSL have received as of early April.

Question 1. Yes from the Conservatives, Greens and Lib Dems. No direct answer  from Labour, but an affirmation of current policy.

Question 2. Ditto


Just another Saturday at Tate South Lambeth

Lots of activity on a recent Saturday at Tate South Lambeth Library …!

Henry Tate – the man who gave us our library

Bill Linskey, chairman of the Brixton Society, gives an illustrated talk on Henry Tate.

This great Victorian philanthropist is best known as the founder of the Tate Gallery in Pimlico (now expanded to four sites in the UK). But he was also the leading benefactor of public libraries in Lambeth, donating the land and building for three libraries, in Brixton, Streatham and – first in line –South Lambeth. All three have remained in operation, serving the growing and diversifying population of the borough -although Tate South Lambeth has come under repeated threat of closure in the recent past. And its future remains uncertain.

This talk will give you the background – and the stimulus to preserve this precious gift to the community.

Wednesday March 14th, 7pm (doors open at 6.30pm)

Admittance free. Refreshments available

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.


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.

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 www.vauxhallhistory.org