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Knowledge is priceless

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Knowledge is priceless

We visited the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill on day three of its occupation.

Yesterday, we went over to the occupied Carnegie Library in Herne Hill, in support of the local residents' fighting the council's decision to shut it down.

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The battle to save the libraries in Lambeth has been going on for quite some time now, and the council's 'creative' solution has been a proposal to close some five libraries down then reopen them as private gyms with just basic, we gather, unstaffed library services.

Imagine that brainstorm: a councillor or a council officer is sitting at their desk or at home wondering how to keep the libraries open and then, bingo! Turn the libraries into private gyms and keep a few bookshelves so you can call these hybrid spaces something hip, like, um, 'hubs of excellent' or 'centres of modernise' or similar.

This is clearly the stuff of future, you could go to your dentist and have a choice of having your tooth out or learning how to become a trapeze artist; or you go to your local eatery for a cup of coffee or make computer keyboards.

Obviously, the only people who'd want to oppose something like this are the enemies of progress, this is all about 'sensible solutions' and residents' needs and not corporate money.

Believe.

Lambeth council announced the Carnegie Library was to close on Thursday 31st March. They spectacularly failed to do this as some 50 local residents stayed on in the library after the closure and have been there ever since. The occupiers issued their demands to Lambeth Council:

1. To listen to the people they represent

2. To keep all Lambeth libraries fully open with professional library staff; the scrap their plans for closures and healthy living centres, and reverse their decision

3. To re-open the Carnegie and Minet Libraries with immediate effect, with all library staff, to continue to provide a full library service

4. To adopt the community/staff mutual plan which will keep all ten libraries fully operational as part of a full library service for the borough. This offers a creative, innovative solution in the face of cuts

5. To collaborate with all the Friends groups as set out in Lambeth policy

6. Not to transfer the Carnegie Library building, which was given for a library for the benefit of the community, to the ‘Carnegie Community Trust’ which does not represent the community.

Yesterday, on day three, friends and supporters did some leafletting and talking with people at Herne Hill in the morning. A public rally was called for 3pm and quite a large crowd gathered outside to show their support and solidarity with the occupiers.

One resident, who's been running the local chess club at the library for the last 16 years, made sure that the club still took place. Occupiers spoke about why they are occupying and just how precious the library has been for everyone, from children to women to people looking for work, to people learning to read, to older residents etc. All were determined to stay on in the occupation for as long as it took precisely for the sake of the children, the vulnerable, all of us who needed the libraries. Two local authors, Stella Duffy and Alex Wheatle, told the rally how important the libraries had been for them and their families. Quite a few were highly critical of the 'labour' council, one of them said the Sadiq Khan mayoral campaigners were scheduled to be at Herne Hill that morning but pulled out because of, they thought, the local residents' library campaign. To make things even more surreal (see also: cognitive dissonance) for the Lambeth 'labour', a partner of one of the councillors 'pleaded' with the residents not to be putting so much pressure on the councillor as it was affecting the lives of his family too. Throughout the day, local residents kept delivering food and drink to the occupiers, there was plenty of cake and biscuits to go round to the supporters too.

If you get a chance, we would urge you to go and visit the occupation today or send your messages of support through social media. The council is likely to be going to court as soon as possible to have the protest evicted.

See also:

More photos from the day

Defend the ten website

Rae Stoltenkamp, Carnegie Occupation

Artist Taxi Driver inside the occupation (part 1 of 3)

Another late night twitter meltdown

 

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