Carnegie Library Refugees 2

It’s now been almost a full month for Ruskin Readers without the vital support of the librarians and space which is Carnegie Library.  This is how things now stand.

As you know, we’re currently housed in The Cambria for our Monday evening sessions.  One of the problems of a literacy club sharing space with pub punters reared its head recently.  The pub had scheduled a charity quiz night which cut across the timings we’d arranged for Ruskin Readers.  Teaching reading and writing amidst crowd buzz, clinking glasses, loud music, kitchen sounds and an MC was nigh on impossible.  I can’t blame the pub for this cross-over.  It is after all… a pub.

One of our main problems continues to be access to our valuable resources.  After a lengthy talk with Jim Dickson last week, Caroline Knapp is still no further along with securing us a better interim venue or the reopening of Carnegie.  

Now that we have our student folders and notebooks
we no longer need loose sheets of paper.  Yippee!

The wonderful Caroline Mackie (Manager of Carnegie) has now finally been allowed back into the library.  After kindly bagging and boxing up some of our most essential goods, she brought them over in her car to Caroline K’s house where they are now occupying the hallway as there is nowhere else for them to go.  

Please bear in mind this is barely a tenth of our resources not to mention the book stock we used to have available from the library itself.

Tutors & students at our Wednesday venue
getting even closer than usual

The Wednesday group continues on at Streatham Library.  But this too is presenting us with issues.  Many of our members who attend this afternoon session are elderly, have mobility or health issues.  There are many stairs to the allocated room.  It is also tiny.  The cramped conditions are not ideal.  They also mean we cannot offer new places to anyone contacting us for assistance.  

Our waiting list is and always has been incredibly long.  The problem is not lack of tutor volunteers.  We have so many of these wonderful individuals.  It has always been finding the space to fit more members in.  And now, with the closure of Carnegie, this problem has been amplified.

A further problem is that we are forced to spend money from a valuable resource grant which was given to us last year on things other than the resources it was intended for.  We’ve had to buy table lamps for the Monday evening group as the lighting in the pub is very dim.  On top of this we have to pay for teas and coffees at the bar.  We would normally buy our own tea, coffee etc from the supermarket for cost effectiveness.  Our lead tutor (Caroline K) is justifiably at her wits end.

Understandably there is a feeling of despair filtering through.  But students and tutors are banding together and as determined as ever in the fight for our library to be re-opened.  Sometimes it takes more than one cup of tea to get us feeling like we can do what needs to be done.  And if that’s the case then so be it.  If biscuits or a bit cake can be thrown in for good measure, all the better.

What Can You Do?

Write to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to express your concern that Lambeth is not and will not be fulfilling its statutory requirement ‘to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons’. Head of Libraries: or Minister responsible for libraries: Ed Vaizey (postal address: Simon Richardson, Head of Libraries, DCMS, 4th Floor, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ).   DCMS are investigating already so the more messages they get the better.

Write to GLL to express your concern that their ‘social enterprise’ company (which states that it is ‘here for the good of the communities we operate in’) is planning to open an unwanted gym in our library: or Mark Sesnan, GLL, Middlegate House, The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London SE18 6SX

Write to MP Helen Hayes MP if you are a constituent at  or at House of Commons, London SW1A OAA.   See her latest statement and public comments:


  1. Wishing you all the best with your campaign. Ours here is Sheffield likely to begin soon.


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