Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library

We are the friends of the Tate South Lambeth Library, 180 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1QP. For official information about the library, including opening hours and contact details, please visit the library’s own website here.

Tate Free Library design

The next stage of the battle to save our library – join in!

We have an opportunity to block the shutdown of Tate South Lambeth Library for conversion to a “healthy living centre” ( ie a gym with an unattended library corner).


By responding to a consultation paper on Durning Library and Tate South Lambeth Library that is now in the library and online at

The consultation paper from Lambeth is unacceptable as it stands (see below).

BUT we must all give a response – because otherwise Durning Library will remain as a proper library, and Tate South Lambeth will become an unwanted gym with a few bookshelves and little more.

We suggest that you

(1) Answer questions 1 and 2, with “strongly oppose”.

(2) Write in the space below these questions: “This document does not give us the option of stating our strong preference for Tate South Lambeth Library as the town centre library for the north.”

(3) Say which services/activities you would lose if Tate South Lambeth’s library service is reduced to a book-borrowing facility, with no librarian in place.

Why do we say this?

Lambeth Council has published a consultation paper which – supposedly – asks us to choose which of the two large local libraries in this area – Tate South Lambeth and Durning – will be the new, single town centre library for the north of the borough.

It does nothing of the sort

The two questions it puts are:

  1. To what extent do you support or oppose the proposal that Durning Library will become the temporary town centre library?
  2. To what extent do you support or oppose the proposal that Tate South Library will offer reduced library provision and wider range of wellbeing activities with a healthy living centre?

It does not ask the simple and fundamental question – which of the two libraries do you think should be the town centre library?

 Why not?

The true aim of the ‘consultation’ is clearly to obtain the go-ahead to replace the library at Tate South Lambeth with a gym,and very restricted space for a ‘neighbourhood library’ in the form of a small range of books and a few computers, with no library staff at all on site.

Lambeth Council wants the Durning Library to be the ‘winner’ of a battle we do not want to fight. Neither library should be turned into a gym – and certainly not Tate South Lambeth, which currently gets almost three times the number of visits.

By the way…

The timing of the consultation (it ends on December 21) is evidently designed to enable Lambeth Council to close down this library at the end of this year, giving three clear months to install the Greenwich Leisure Services gym by April 2016.

Lambeth’s broken promises

The Culture 2020 report, agreed by the Council cabinet on October 12th and by the Council on November 18th, promised a “4 week consultation period … to help determine if Durning Library rather than Tate South Lambeth Library will provide a temporary fifth town centre library in the north of the borough until 2022”.

And Jane Edbrooke, the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods (and our own councillor), who has been fronting the Council’s campaign for its Culture 2020 proposals, has in public stated that the consultation would offer this choice.

So what should we do now?

Please fill in the consultation form in the only way that enables Tate South Lambeth users to say what they really want (as we suggest above).

And please continue to send your views to Jane Edbrooke and your other local councillors

Oval ward: Jane Edbrooke, Claire Holland, Jack Hopkins. Stockwell ward: Alex Bigham, Guilherme Rosa, Imogen Walker. Write to them at: Olive Morris House, 18 Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RD

Or email them at:,,,,,

Copy in the Chief Executive, Sean Harriss, and the leader of the council, Lib Peck:,






One response to “The next stage of the battle to save our library – join in!”

  1. Ben avatar

    Just thought I would share my answers to the consultation in case it is useful for others to use:

    q1 response
    This document does not give us the option of stating our strong preference for Tate South Lambeth Library (TSL) as the town centre library for the north.

    q2 response TSL Visit numbers have doubled over the last year, underlining what an vital resource it is for the community. In November there were 17,430 visits at TSL, double the level in the same month of 2014. Visits to Durning Library, which has the same number of opening hours each week, were only 4,249 – which was a fall of over one third on November 2014. In April-November visits to TSL reached 107,748 ( up by three quarters – 74% – on the same six months in 2014). This was almost three times the figure at Durning, which was 37,638 – or almost one third down. At the rate of visits recorded in April-November, the number at TSL will reach near 162,000 in a full year. TSL beats a major town centre library on visits per hour. In November TSL beat Streatham Library – one of the “town centre” libraries into which Lambeth Council has poured resources in recent years- in the number of visits it gets
    per hour. TSL’s figure was 106, Streatham’s 92. Durning’s figure was just 26.

    Borrowing holds up well – The number of book borrowings and renewals at TSL reached 5,939 in November compared with 3,492 at Durning. In April-November the figure for TSL was 33,608,virtually unchanged from the previous year, while those for Durning – at 28,771 – were down by almost one tenth.

    New membership is growing by near one third. In April-November 2015 new library memberships registered at TSL rose by near one third (29%) to 1,329, while Durning’s numbers were about one quarter lower, at 974 ( and up by only 5%).

    Also, TSL costs slightly less to run each year than does Durning. So the Council is getting a lot more – in visits and books borrowed – for its money.

    We lost Stockwell Post Office in July, and losing the library as well would be an enormous blow for the locality. The library hosts reading/chess/knitting/gardening clubs, ESOL lessons, award-winning,
    nationally-recognised facilities for the visually impaired (last year, TSL was the only library in the whole of Great Britain to be nominated for an Accessible Britain Challenge Award), film screenings, offers inter-library loans, Digital Inclusion events, liaison events with many local charities, councillors and MP surgeries, photocopying facilities and craft fairs, among other things. All this would be lost in the proposal to give the library building to GLL.

    The current proposals are badly thought-out, do not take into account what the community wants and needs, and are essentially gifting library buildings which were given to the community for public use for the purpose of “healthy living centres”, ie gyms, when there are several other perfectly good gyms within half a mile of TSL. It seems that the GLL proposal has been favoured since before the consultation began, with the alternative proposal of the libraries being run by a staff mutual being essentially ignored; at the Lambeth Council meeting of Monday December 7th, Councillor Matthew Bennett said he did not like proposals that were presented “at the last minute” (ie the staff mutual proposal). However, at the same meeting, it was confirmed that the proposal for a staff mutual at these libraries was received by the Council on April 24th, with the GLL proposal being received in August! As of December 13th, the GLL proposal is 1.5 A4 sides long and:
    – Features no plan to achieve the £800,000 p/a saving Lambeth needs to make
    – Features no implementation or business plan whatsoever to assess the viability of a gym in that area
    – Does not address the significant equalities issues that removing a library used in large part by BAME/elderly/economically disadvantaged users presents
    – Does not identify how the existing stock of books and materials is to be used if the library shuts [the stock of books is likely to have to be placed in storage at the Council’s expense]
    – Makes no mention of the fact that in 2014 Greenwich Leisure closed the gym at the Black Prince community hub (at Beaufoy Walk off Black Prince Road Kennington), and that a similar gym on South Lambeth Road would be likely to close within two years due to lack of demand

    There are several large, national charity HQ’s within a mile of TSL including Macmillan, Marie Curie, Friends of the Earth, WaterAid, SPARKS, New Philanthropy Capital, Mind, Comic Relief, Care International, International Alert and Leonard Cheshire. Has Lambeth Council sought to engage any of these organisations to learn if they may want to use the TSL facilities to offer classes/Information and Advice sessions or services/training/networking or fundraising events or to ask for ideas as to how TSL could by used by them? I do not see why TSL could not increase it’s role as a not-for-profit hub through paid-for services which, while being modest for such large charities, would provide vital income for TSL and would contribute to the budget savings sought by Lambeth.

    In closing, I would simply say that TSL is a beacon of pioneering and cost-effective work in the community, and beg you not to close this wonderful facility.

    q3 response
    I have already listed some ideas for engaging large national charities in the TSL locality. In addition, to raise revenue:
    – Any number of evening classes could be run on a pay-for basis
    – Short courses could be scheduled, again on a pay-for basis
    – Readings and cultural events could be hosted
    – A market to sell food/cultural items (such a market was staged for the first time this December, but it would be expanded, such as that which is held at the nearby Cavendish Arms)
    – Local history tours or talks
    – Hackathons or online tournaments
    – Working with the local police to offer basic services ranging from crime and incident reporting to lost and found property support.(as happens in Warwickshire, see link:
    – Fitting TSL with Amazon Lockers for parcel delivery, as happens in West Sussex (see:;
    – Exploring retail solutions such as the sale of goods, as happens in Brighton (http://www.brighton-hove-
    – Providing bookable space for meetings, as happens in Huddersfield libraries
    – Provide programming/ICT training using such low-cost solutions as the Raspberry Pi, as happens in Exeter (

    Any of these examples come from this report:

    Also, Corporate Partnerships with local/national businesses could also be explored to earn sponsorship or other forms of income, as could the establishment of a CIC (Community Interest Company) to access additional statutory funds.

    Also, is the rental income earned from the two residences above TSL ploughed into the TSL income budget, and if not, why not?

    q4 response
    I visit TSL every week to borrow books, request items, visit the market, play chess in the chess club, and to use the internet. The library is often full, especially on the weekends, when it acts as an important space for youngsters to study in. Many households in the area do not offer the quiet space and internet connectivity required for modern study, and the library gives young people the chance to take advantagee of modern computers and dedicated study space.

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