Help Durning Library Friends – just fill in their quick survey

Durning Library Friends

Durning Library FriendsYour help is needed! The Friends of Durning Library have launched a survey to assess how best to plan for the library’s future. They say:

“Lambeth Council is currently considering the future organisation of its library service.  We know that there are to be severe budget cuts and if the community does not step in, our library may not survive.

“As the library’s Friends, we need your help to decide how best to plan for its future, and so we need to hear your views, whether or not you use the library.

“Please complete our short survey – available online on our new website and as a downloadable PDF. There will be a public meeting at the Durning Library on Monday 27 February to enable everyone to give us their views and the results of the survey will contribute to this discussion. The deadline is Monday 30 January.”

The website address is:

When history stops in Lambeth

lambeth archives entrance

Researchers beware – Lambeth Archives is closed for stocktaking from Monday 23 January to Saturday 4 February. Staff won’t be dealing with personal, phone or written enquiries – this is Lambeth, remember. Normal service (and history) resumes on Monday 6 February, and The Minet lending library in the same building will be open as normal throughout.

 Lambeth Archives




Libraries Campaign: now tell MPs what you think

parliamentary select

Like to put a spoke in Lambeth’s plan to sell off historic public library buildings like the Durning and the Tate South Lambeth and either move the libraries themselves to or merge them in some dreary municipal ‘space’?

You have until 12 January to post or email your point of view on the value of your library to the Parliamentary Select Committee on library closures. [Read more…]

Invitation to hear a talk on the history of Brunswick House

Brunwswick House
Brunwswick House

Brunswick House

An invitation from Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library to attend a talk given by Ferrous Auger about the history of Brunswick House.

Brunswick House Lassco is a Georgian townhouse in the middle of the gyratory system in Vauxhall.

In the eighteenth century Brunswick House (originally Belmont House) stood in five and half acres of parkland with its own jetty and a handsome frontage.

Now some two and half centuries later it casts a rueful glance at five lanes of traffic thundering past all hours of the day and night, a railway viaduct and a bus station, overshadowed and cut off from the river by the massive St George Wharf development.

The talk will be at
Tate South Lambeth Library
180 South Lambeth Road
London SW8 1QT (directly opposite the Estrela Café)

Wednesday 25 January 2012, 7pm

If you plan to attend, please notify or call 020 7622 867.

Libraries Campaign: time for some answers?

Reaction to the Libraries Commission report (read it here: is now coming in, and could be summarised as ‘could have been worse, but still far too vague’.

The Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library tell us they’re relieved that their and other smaller libraries are not for the chop, or not yet. On the other hand, the report isn’t clear about how much money the TSL will have to work with, given the ‘massive’ development planned for its Vauxhall/Nine Elms catchment area.

What the Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library say:

‘The report was very good in parts – the proposal to install Wifi at all libraries and, most immediately relevant to us, the recognition of the importance and relevance to the local community of Tate South Lambeth Library at its present location. But the report left certain key elements unclear – which could put at risk the nature of the library service Lambeth will provide. There are two areas where we need discussion and clarification.

What resources will be directed to each of the different library service points (a description we do not like) at the seven smaller libraries that are being reclassified as community hubs? How will this be determined?

How does the commission/Lambeth Council envisage that coproduction will evolve? What structure is proposed for governance, decision-making, control and management? What is the time frame?’

The Friends of The Durning Library, however, aren’t at all happy. They tell The Vauxhall Society that for individual local libraries like the Durning, the Libraries Commission Report – now Council policy – ‘offers at worst a stay of execution and at best an opportunity for local communities to work with officials and councillors to keep the libraries in operation’.

What the Friends of The Durning Library say:

‘There is a lot in the report that is positive and to be welcomed, particularly the general commitment to libraries and library-based services and the proposals for much-needed modernisation of those services in Lambeth. We also accept the recommendation that there should be two core libraries in the borough – Brixton and Streatham – with, in effect, ring-fenced financing.

For the individual local libraries, including the Durning, the report offers at worst a stay of execution and at best an opportunity for local communities to work with officials and councillors to keep the libraries in operation in the longer term. There will, however, be very much reduced resources available from Lambeth (and the ring-fencing of Brixton and Streatham will not help the local libraries). The report suggests that the libraries concerned will have to be ‘financially viable within new budgets’ and that is difficult to reconcile that with the declared desire of many that the libraries should carry on in their present buildings and with services similar to the present.

The Durning Friends’ committee has already had preliminary discussions with officials and councillors about producing, by the end of th  three-month consultation period, a proposal for how the Durning could be transformed into a financially viable library, co-produced, as the report envisages, by the local community and the council.

This will not be easy. The report has underlined that the Durning building presents particularly difficult problems because of the scale and cost of the work needed to bring it up to modern standards and secure its future. There are therefore some difficult choices to be made. We know that many users want the building to stay in library use but we have to explore all the possibilities and find out what sort of library service our users really want.

We are planning a detailed survey of our users and hope shortly to get our website up and running so that we can gather opinions on-line.’

Libraries Campaign: your local library to go?

The long-awaited report of the ‘Libraries Commission’ that Lambeth Council set up under its ‘Cabinet member for Culture, Sport and the 2012 Games’ is now published. As the council’s own website says, Lambeth has the lowest usage, highest cost per visit and lowest levels of user satisfaction of any London borough. The commission’s report is tucked away on the council website in the agenda papers for the 21 November council meeting. A key commission recommendation? The council should do what it likes with Lambeth’s nine libraries – sell them, for example. There should be ‘alternative accommodation’, of some sort, somewhere, sometime.

That Libraries Commission report:

Who the Commission members are:

Libraries Campaign: petition MPs, punish your councillors?

Want a debate in the Commons about Lambeth and other local authorities’ plans to lose libraries? Then here’s a petition for you to sign ( But read on…

It’s all gone quiet of late in the ‘to cut or not to cut’ story of Lambeth’s libraries, but a cliffhanger is only a page or two away.

What’s next?
The Commission must report to the Council on or by 21 November, but may even release its recommendations as early as 14 November.

There’ll then a public consultation, which some commission members want to last until well after Christmas.

Expect some community/political fireworks during that time, a period of electoral danger for councillors.

They know how strongly any library-closing will be resented, and come election time, remembered.

And the cliffhanger?

The Council may or may not go along with the findings of the Commission it itself set up?

Or will library users be able to stomach the Commission’s report?

The story so far seems to be that the Commission

  • might envisage the closure of two of Lambeth’s nine libraries, and their merger into a separate building somewhere else
  • urges the Lambeth bureaucracy to charge the libraries less in the way of ‘central management charges’
  • In return, the council – which wants £750,000 in ‘savings’ over the next two years – would be free to relocate the remaining libraries and sell off the historic original buildings to developers

Ross Davies

Three things you can do now

  1. Nag your councillors.
  2. Email right away if you would like to have a hand in in an exercise rattling the bars of councillors’ cages that The Vauxhall Society plan.
  3. Keep the libraries a national as well as a local cause by signing the ‘Love Your Libraries’ petition for a Commons debate, a petition the Women’s Institute initiated and which The Society of Authors backs.

Library Campaign: Sins of Commission
Library Campaign: Bonfire of the Books?

Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library call for help

Faced with the prospect of draconian cuts to the Library – including the possibility of closure – the Friends of Tate South Lambeth library have issued a call to arms on their website:


On 21 November  the Libraries Commission will present its report on the futureof Lambeth’s libraries to Lambeth Council. That report will contain proposalsthat could go as far as removing library services from our local library – TateSouth Lambeth Library.

Why the danger?
Because theLibraries Commission has been charged with identifying ways of reducing themoney spent on libraries by £750,000 over the next two financial years (April2012 to March 2014). In other words a cut of around one quarter on the presentbudget.

A cut ofthis size over such a short period cannot be made through simple improvementsin efficiency or in income generation. Additional ‘easy’ cuts have already beenmade in the current financial year, amounting to a planned £75,000. The dangeris that the Commission will call for services to be maintained at the largelibraries, such as Brixton or the new one being built at Clapham, leaving thesmall ones (Carnegie, Durning, Minet, Waterloo –and of course South Lambeth) inthe firing line…

Read more at Friends of Tate South Lambeth website

 The Friends urgently need your support and help at this critical time…

Libraries campaign: sins of Commission?

Could it be a sign that Lambeth Council set up the ‘Libraries Commission’ as just a smokescreen for the decision to start closing seven of Lambeth’s nine libraries? Vauxhall Society affiliate The Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library has issued a call to arms, and they must know something because FTSL’s Laura Swaffield is a commission member. The commission reports to the council on 21 November. From what FTSL says, it’s beginning to look as if the commission’s Labour trusties will fiddle around suggesting ways of increasing revenue instead of calling upon the Council to stop loading the libraries with outrageous central administrative costs. Cut these, and there’d be no trouble finding the £750,000 a year ‘savings’ Council Leader Steve Reed says are necessary. His council charges the library service over £2.7 million a year, when almost anywhere but Lambeth this administrative overhead would be at least two-thirds lower, £800,000 tops and maybe £500,000.

Lambeth’s Libraries are in danger. Read what the Friends of Tate South Lambeth have to say.

‘Need for library cuts’ is fiction:

Tate South Lambeth’s Digital Bazaar: Sat 3 Sep, 10am-noon

Tate South Lambeth Library

180 South Lambeth Road
London SW8
  • Want to get the best out of your mobile phone?
  • Learn how to search the internet and use email?
  • Set up a blog, use Facebook and/or Twitter?
  • Try making free calls with Skype?
  • Make your own free website with WordPress?
  • Learn to add soundtracks and music to your home movies?
  • Explore Word, Powerpoint, eBay, Facebook, BBC i-player, YouTube, iPhone, e-readers, Google Maps etc 

These are some examples of the subjects on offer at the Digital Bazaar, where local people share what they know in a friendly informal exchange of skills and experience.

Aimed for beginners – but also suitable for the experienced who want to learn some new tricks! Some who come to learn have never touched a computer or used the internet, others have high level computer science qualifications, but want to try out a new programme like photoshop, or music editing software. Everyone is welcome. 

You are invited to ask questions, see a demonstration, or try things out for yourself. And if you own an item of digital equipment you would like to learn to use better, bring it with you and we will try to help.

Dedicated support available so those with visual impairment can take part.