Proposal by Lewisham Council to Close Blackheath Library

book_burning Photo by flickr user altemark

As spotted by Catheeuk on Twitter. Lewisham council wants to save a mighty £830k by closing a few libraries, including Blackheath. See the proposal below, squirrelled away on page 13 of Item 4 Appendix 1, of the Public Accounts Select Committee (emphasis is mine):

An overall saving of £830k is proposed.

Around £80k will be achieved by reshaping service delivery in the Home Library Service with a proposed staff restructure and reduction in posts. The remainder of the saving will be achieved by reducing the number of libraries and associated restructure of staff. A public consultation will commence in the summer to seek views on a proposal to close 5 libraries (Sydenham, Blackheath, Crofton Park, Grove Park and New Cross). Proposals will include options as to how residents in affected neighbourhoods could access some library services. Library buildings should be considered as assets for the whole Council, the community and its partners. Service co-location, community management and asset transfer are all being considered as part of these proposals. This work is being undertaken jointly with Property Services. It should be noted that the existing lease on Blackheath Library runs until Jan 2013. We will be looking at an alternative use for the facility in the interim.

Full document is here, unhelpfully split into 11 separate chunks..

So Antonio Rizzo, what now?!

Photo by Flickr user altemark, (not in Blackheath).

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23 Comments

Filed under blackheath, blackheath village, books

23 responses to “Proposal by Lewisham Council to Close Blackheath Library

  1. antonia

    Is this the library at the Standard?

    • No, you’re thinking of the one on Old Dover Road, which has just been done up, I believe. The one being discussed is on Blackheath Grove, near Blackheath station, opposite the Post Office.

  2. There are better ways to save money than to close down these vital heart of the community. I have been using Blackheath library since moving down there to care for my mum two years ago, and she too been using it as long as I can remember. Closing it would mean the end of the road for a number of the elderly people who use it as a place to meet and socialise with society.

    Would this mean that users from Blackheath would need have to start using Manor House Library as it’s the nearest one?

    Please people, let’s try and fight the closure.

  3. The library at the Standard is run by London Borough of Greenwich. The one in Blackheath village is run by Lewisham — it’s just in the borough by about 5 metres (the boundary runs down the railway line and then turns up through the village towards the Concert Halls down the middle of the road).

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  5. Anonymous

    Here we go again. Every few years the council tries to close Blackheath library and retreats under a barrage of protest from local schools, playgroups and pensioners, as well as regular users.

    This time may be more serious, with the lease running out and the excuse that government-enforced cuts means the “nobs on the hill” take second place to poorer parts of the borough.

    I will be interested in the stance of the newly-elected Labour councillor who elbowed out the Lib Dem.

  6. @ anon: you will see that ‘poorer parts of the borough’ such as New Cross are also at risk of losing their facilities. A united front with readers across the borough might be a more useful approach in fighting these cuts.

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  9. Antonio Rizzo

    Dear All,
    What now?!, you ask.

    Blackheath Village Library is a much loved library, but it is also a very expensive library to run – the most expensive in Lewisham in fact. This is why I would encourage you to detach the love you have for the role it plays in the community from the attachment you (may) have to the building.

    I would invite residents to look at what alternatives the Village offers. The challenge for us is clear: is there a way of preserving (and ideally improving) the service to residents while reducing the burden of cost that this building tows? That is, can we deliver the service from a different venue, possibly with someone else, possibly in a different way? And if so, what would be the advantages to the residents, to the new partner, to the library service?

    I believe that many opportunities exist. Blackheath is a vibrant village where synergies between agents in the community already abound. We need to capitalise on these to seek added value for all.

    This afternoon I met the Friends of Blackheath Village Library and had an open and very constructive discussion with them. The question I asked was: is there another venue that could host the library function and benefit the host as much as the guest? A lot of options came out. We need to explore these further.

    This is why I would invite you to contact the Friends of Blackheath Village Library (se3villagelibrary@yahoo.co.uk) and contribute your ideas on the options.
    Attend the local assembly meetings (http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/CouncilAndDemocracy/ElectedRepresentatives/Councillors/LocalAssemblies/BlackheathAssembly/ ).
    Participate in the consultation exercises that the Council will organise (starting from 15/7/2010 with the statutory consultation on savings proposals https://www.engagespace.co.uk/engage/lewisham/ ).
    Use any (legal) means to get the creative juices going, blogs, FaceBook, twitter, etc.

    The challenge that the Council has of saving millions over the next few years puts considerable pressure on every service we provide. The Library Service is not exempt. Blackheath is not exempt. The choices that we will make in the next few weeks and months will determine the future of the Council, of the Library Service, and ultimately of the provision that residents will benefit from.

    This is why I think we should
    1.build on what counts the most, that is the energy and passion you have for your library service,
    2.ditch anything that is stopping us from growing and developing better services for residents, and
    3.make the most of the common drive to engage with the local community that other agents share with us.

    I set up monthly meetings with the Friends until October, will attend the Local Assemblies, will contact key stakeholders in the community (e.g. Age Exchange) to look at options for collaboration, and look forward to your ideas to improve services in Blackheath.

    I hope the above gives an indication of our approach. I look forward to contributing to this blog in the future, when perhaps we will be discussing the exciting details of a new library provision in Blackheath.
    Kind regards,
    Antonio Rizzo
    Service Manager
    Lewisham Library & Information Service

  10. C J Peters

    Blackheath Village Library
    Very concerned if this library was to be closed or downgraded – i recently noted new books on offer and took two home.
    Hope others will make more footfall to show Lewisham how valuable it is.
    Chris

    • Hilary Weedon

      As a user of the library since I moved here nearly 30 years ago I would be very sad to lose it. However, if another site in the Village could be found this would seem to be the obvious answer, given that our Library is apparently the most expensive for the Borough to run as it doesn’t own the building. Please encourage the Council to understand how important the Library is to the community and to work to find a solution..

  11. Hubert Spall

    I agree with Deptford Dame’s comment above: this is not just about Blackheath Library.

    Lewisham is proposing a wholesale scaling back of the Library service. Libraries are at the foundation of progressive thinking in this country.

    Take away the poor people’s access to books: this is another big step on the road towards celebrity-worshipping consumerist dystopia. Keep taking the soma.

  12. Ed

    The blackheath library must be saved. It has a unique role to play in the village.

  13. J.R.

    Coming late to this issue, I must add my voice to those objecting to the planned closure. Centralising Lewisham library services while proposals to scrap the Freedom Pass are also in the air would mean older library users without their own transport being, in effect, deprived of library access. Hope the meetings on this subject later this month result in vocal local opposition to the plan.

  14. D.R.Oshidar

    Most depressing news.Blackheath library is an integral part of the village where we have lived for 30 years.Easily accessible for almost daily use it contributes hugely to our quality of life.It is a library in the finest traditions of of the word.Excellent staff of a very high calibre and a far better atmosphere for the older user than the sterile impersonal one of the self service “modernised ” library .It must not be closed.

    • Shasha

      I entirely agree with Mr Oshidar’s comments. A correct balance must be struck between tradition and modernity – the mayor and his entourage seem to emphasis the needs of the younger demographic and whereas there is nothing wrong in that, thisn must not be at the expense of the needs of the older residents of the borough who would prefer ‘their’ library (Blackheath Village)

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  16. S.Currey

    The library is also used for exhibitions and meetings. As I live in Grove Park and show work at Blackheath Library with several groups I am horrified to see , yet again, our valuable resources under attack. This is a reversal of the pledge the council gave in its Council Tax booklet after last attack:- recognising the value of libraries especially to the young, old and less well off, promising to defend them at all costs. Shame on you Lewisham Council. Cut your perks before depriving others. Where is your promise to provide such spaces in Manor Library and Downham? All lies I’m Afraid.

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  18. T

    This library provides a valuable resource for preschoolers as well the elderly – there is no other resource in the village for this age group, nowhere else to meet other mums, nowhere else to introduce children to the wonderful world of books.

  19. Anonymous

    We Should keep Blackheath Librey open and close manor house

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