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Carnegie Library Refugees 1

Sean Cameron
A longstanding student

Ruskin Readers had its first session at The Cambria on Monday.  Without the books for loan in Carnegie library, our laptops, student folders and exercise books - we had to improvise.  And improvise we did.  Many tutors bought workbooks for their students, created resources in their own time and downloaded worksheets.  Lead tutor, Caroline Knapp, brought along a selection of Michael Morpurgo books as well as a pile of free newspapers for the reading section of the evening.

The current situation for our homeless literacy group is as follows:

Tutors getting their read &
tweet on during the tea break

Currently our Monday evening group are kindly being rehoused by The Cambria.  They reserved several great tables for us and we were able to avail ourselves of tea, coffee and juice from the bar.  One of our generous tutors paid the bar bill.

Our Wednesday afternoon session has now moved to an upstairs room in Streatham Library.  Thank heavens for the lift or our less mobile members would be rather stuck. The super library staff have also generously given us access to their tiny kitchen so at least we had our regular tea/socialising break.

We managed well with the few members who made it to this first session after the closure of Carnegie a fortnight ago.  It will however be a very tight squeeze when all the members attend.

But while the generosity of the community has no bounds, let’s be clear on one thing.  We steadfastly believe Carnegie Library should be reopened immediately so that we can continue the great literacy work we’ve been doing in conjunction with the librarians for over 40 years. 

Ruskin Readers are by no means alone in their Carnegie Refugee status.  The Chess Club, Silver Surfers, Book at Breakfast (temporarily housed at Tudor Stacks), Book Club, Parents & Toddlers group and the small businesses who used to operate from the library are among the ousted user groups.

I believe I speak for all of them when I say we are bereft.

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:


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