Friends of Minet Library - News

As a founding partner of the Minet Hub, we aim to regenerate Minet Library and its archive as a resource centre, with a new building on the site, a focus on improving access to information through digital media (including training, education and employment).

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  • 21 Jul 2016 7:50 AM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)


    Gardening session: 23 July

    Friends of Minet Library will be gardening at the library and archive this Saturday 23rd July 2pm to 4pm on Saturday; these sessions are an opportunity to help support the archive and library in a practical way but also to catch up with campaigners and find out the latest in the campaign.


    Archive Consultation

    Please show your support for Minet library by completing this survey about the future of the Lambeth archive.  Friends of Minet library believe the archive plays a critical role in protecting Minet library.

    We believe:

    • the archive is the only remaining indoor facility freely available to all in their neighbourhood and it is vitally important that it stays.
    • we believe we can raise the money to redevelop the archive and library on site, helping to create a resource centre for the area with new meeting, exhibition and study spaces, plus investment in interpretation to help everyone connect with our local past.
    • the archives are in the right place - in the Victorian setting where they were created.
    • there is space to improve parking and funding available to improve bus services to the area - which would also benefit local people.

    Please give them your support


    Public Meeting: Defend the 10

    This Thursday 21st, Brixton library from 8pm


    Heritage Lottery Fund bid

    Minet Hub has been given the go ahead to make a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £10,000 to support the formal development of Friends of Minet Library group, including a remit to consult local people about what they would like to see in a 21st century library/archive. 





    People's audit opens up the Town Hall books

    Lambeth Council ‘invested’ just £57,000 in libraries last year, compared to a massive £13,065,000 spend on corporate office accommodation. This is just one of the financial findings uncovered by the People’s Audit of Lambeth – a group of concerned citizens who have been investigating the financial spend of Lambeth Council over the past twelve months

  • 26 Jun 2016 8:52 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)

    Update on Minet Library 

    Friends of Minet Library have met Council Leader, Lib Peck to talk about their plans for the library, which you can see on our site and include bringing in Heritage Lottery Funding to fund the development of the archive.   Lib Peck has agreed that GLL will not be given a lease on the library or given the go ahead to install a gym until after September, as consultants are currently looking into the future of Minet archives and will make recommendations about where the archives are sited in September.  The consultants will also be gathering views from across the borough as part of their work and we will publicise the survey as soon as it's released.  The closing date for the survey is 31 August.

    There is a range of events still being run at Minet Library including reading group and gardening sessions every fortnight (next one 9th July which will include a reminiscence session).  For more details see Minet site.

    Other news from Friends of Lambeth Libraries

    Getting Carnegie and Minet Libraries reopened

    Working to get both Carnegie and Minet Libraries re-opened is the ongoing focus for the Friends of Lambeth Libraries (FOLL).  There are two separate strands to this: writing to Lib Peck (Leader of Councillor) and setting up a group meeting with the help of Alison McKane, Lambeth Head of Legal. 

    GLL plans

    The 'exhibition' run by GLL at Carnegie library on 21-22 June was very revealing. There were NO proper details about proposed 'neighbourhood library' - how many books/PCs, how much study space, space in general, how staffed, how it will work financially, organisationally etc. Those GLL staff on hand were unable to answer many of the questions and said they had no clue that a gym in the Carnegie Library building has been rejected by the local community.  They left significantly better informed on this point by the time they left!  99% of comments on the exhibition were hostile to proposed plans – we hope to publish many of these comments on the website shortly.

    It is becoming clear that GLL are not wildly enthusiastic about Lambeth’s plans for gyms in Carnegie and Minet Libraries so we must keep the pressure up on GLL. Please continue to write/re-write letters to Managing Director of GLL, Mark Sesnan []

    Council budget planning

    Labour Councillors are starting to discuss next year's budget now, with a view to have it provisionally sorted out by October.  So, it’s important that we contact our local councillors to make sure they adequately take into account, and represent, the views of their constituents on the issue of Libraries.  The situation is precarious, however as, having failed to make the savings promised through Library cuts this year, the Council may be even less disposed to listen to arguments in favour of making adequate provision for Libraries this next year. More details about this are on the website.

    It is likely that all funding on Libraries will be eliminated except for four big libraries at Brixton, Clapham, Streatham, West Norwood.  The timing however will be a crucial factor as the budget will have to be published just before the 2018 local elections.  So make sure you tell your Councillor how you feel about Library cuts and remind them that (1) The Green party has recently had huge success in the formerly safe ward of Gipsy Hill, where they campaigned on libraries as well as estate demolitions; and (2) Labour was voted out of office following mass library closure plans in 2000. Following that defeat, the party's own post-mortem found library plans were major factor.

    Against this backdrop, FOLL are working again on the plan proposed by Susanna Barnes to gather support for that.

    Supporting Rachel Heywood

    The online petition to support Rachel needs more signatures.  She is still the sole Labour Councillor to speak out publicly against library closures, and has been suspended from the party for her pains.  The petition will remain open until her appeal (date tbc) so please do sign it:
    Paper versions also available on website, & we find people very eager to sign at fairs, events etc.

    DCMS review of Lambeth’s Library provision

    The man from the ministry - Dept. for Culture, Media & Sport – is now reviewing all the documentation he has received about the plans Lambeth Council has for their libraries.  He remains very open to father contributions to his deliberations so all FOLL members are encouraged to submit comments and updates to him.

    Robbie Gibson still missing

    One of the FOLL campaigners, Robbie Gibson, has been missing since mid June.  FOLL and many hundreds of other people are concerned about him and have launched a campaign to find him.  For latest news, or to support the campaign to find him, see the Defend the 10 website

    Update on Carnegie Library

    Friends of Carnegie have produced a leaflet explaining
    background, including a range of questions about the proposed plans.  You can see it here.
    They also ran stands in Ruskin Park to spread the word and get feedback from locals.  Their events also included a panel discussion with Cllr Jack Holborn, Tim O’Dell and others talking about “What is a library?”  You can listen to it here.

    There was press coverage in The Bookseller, Brixton Blog, Brixton Buzz & the Evening Standard.

    Reviewing bids for Carnegie
    Lambeth is to evaluate the rival bids for the asset transfer of Carnegie library in September.  There are two bids under consideration:

    The Friends of Carnegie Library group is working up its business plan. It seeks some heavy hitters to join its trustees - especially more experts on finance, business &
    facilities management. Please volunteer or think of others you could approach. The work is now backed by a £1,000 community grant from local Charter School, won via student Rosa Buezeval - terrific achievement, great publicity! Thank you, Rosa.

    Update on Upper Norwood Junction Library

    Upper Norwood Junction Library will lose its staff from 1 July (all but a mysteriously-funded 35 hours a week of librarian time, replacing current staff of five).  The local friends group has decided against holding a demonstration but will be keeping an eye on how the almost-unstaffed new 'neighbourhood library' pans out.

    Forthcoming events

    • TUES 28 JUNE
      6pm - lobby of GLL at Brixton Rec. Ideally we would do this all day as well. Suggestions: wear daft gym gear; bring lots of pink stickers to put up.
      Please email Laura Swaffield [] to if you can join them.

    • WED 29 JUNE
      7pm Carnegie library weekly get-together on library steps.

    • THURS 30 JUNE
      7-9pm, South Bank Forum public meeting. Waterloo library on the agenda.  Coin St community centre, 108 Stamford Street, South Bank
      London SE1 9NH

    • THURS 7 JULY
      8pm, defend-the-10 meeting, Brixton library.

    • SAT 9 JULY
      2-4pm: Minet fortnightly gardening session; followed by march to Carnegie Library at 4pm, joining their event to celebrate the anniversary of Carnegie Library opening, 110 years ago.  More details to follow but Edwardian dress encouraged.  
    • WED 13 JULY
      6.30 for 7pm: full Council meeting of Lambeth Council.  Friends of Lambeth Library to be present.  If you have questions/issues you’d like raised, please email

    • SAT/SUN 16/17 JULY
      Lambeth County Show.  Show your support for our Libraries.  Wear your “Save Our Libraries” T-shirt when visiting the show.  To get a T-shirt, see Defend the 10 site here.

    • THURS 19 JULY
      6.30pm - reading group at Minet. New members very welcome. This month’s book is 'Stoner' by John Williams. For more details, email Errol, []
    • MID-JULY, DATE as yet to be confirmed
      We believe there are plans to move the book stock from Minet Library to furnish the new library at Waterloo.  We will publish more details as soon as we have them.  Be prepared to turn out to show Lambeth how opposed you are to their plans for Minet Library.  

    with thanks for your continued support,

  • 25 May 2016 7:23 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)


    Meeting with Lib Peck

    Marjorie (chair of Friends of Minet Library) and Tori met with Lib Peck on Thursday 19th May and discussed our business plan for the library. The plan, which was submitted to the council last April, includes applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for money to redevelop the Archives and building flats on top of the library to provide investment and income for the library and archives.

    Consultants have been appointed to carry out an options appraisal to determine the future of the archives and where they should go. We have asked to be included in the appraisal and that one option is to stay where it is. We hope that Friends of Minet Library and Archives will be consulted as part of the appraisal which will be carried out over the next few months. We will keep everyone informed of this process....

    Gardening session: Saturday 28th May

    Everyone is invited to find out more by coming along to our gardening session which will be held outside the library and archive from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday. Plus we’ll have live music, free veggie burgers, cake and tea. You can also show your support for the library and archives by picking up posters for your front window/car and tying yellow ribbons on the railings (all posters and ribbons provided). See poster attached for more details about the event.

    Use the archives

    You can use the photocopier/scanner producing A3/A4 colour and b/w copies and the archives offer study space with free wifi. Local history publications and postcards are on sale and of course there is access to the local studies library and the archives and expert advice on how to use the collections.

    Get into reading

    Erol will lead Get Into Reading every Friday, from 2pm to 4pm. You don’t have to read anything in advance as everything is read aloud to you each week. You can simply drop in, sit down and enjoy listening to a good story or poem - There’s no pressure to talk, to read, or even to drink tea.



    Council meeting debacle on Wed 18th - decent turn-out for demo, but chaos when we tried to speak for 2 mins re libraries emergency (they had refused to allow a deputation because nothing is new since our last one in November!!!!)

    Next public meeting Thurs 26, Brixton library, 8pm


    Please keep writing to GLL - this has to be top priority now. Write to: Mark Sesnan ( Managing Director, GLL.  

    Their website ( says: "We’re a charitable social enterprise, which means we work for the benefit of everyone: the public, the communities we work in, the environment, our staff and our partners. ...We act as a charity and are are here for the good of the communities we operate in ......We believe social values are just as important as financial performance."



    • Print out the poster (link here) and put it in your front window or car window.
    • Tie a yellow ribbon on the railings outside the library and leave messages of support.

  • 12 Apr 2016 8:34 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)

    Things to do to keep up the pressure to save Minet Library

    Wednesday 13th April, 7 pm, Elm Green School, Elmcourt Rd, London SE27 9BZ: Attend the demonstration called by UNISON to coincide with Lambeth Council meeting. 

    Email GLL: it’s vital that GLL knows how unpopular the gym plan is.  We want to put pressure on them to withdraw from the plan. Send your own email (or use the draft text below) to, Managing Director of GLL as soon as possible

    Help make banners: Lambeth has taken down the banners and signs we left outside the library. We want to make new banners and put them on railings outside homes around the library so people know we are fighting on. Come along at 2pm on Saturday to Minet Library to help us make new banners.


    Display posters in your front window and ask your neighbours to put them in theirs: we are getting posters printed and want them in every window: we will have them ready on Saturday so please pick up from outside Minet on Saturday from 2pm to 4pm. We will also send them out as an attachment so you can print your own

    EMAIL TO GLL (this was signed by 30 local organisations and sent as an open letter last week):

    Dear Mark Sesnan (Managing Director of GLL)


    We, the undersigned, are writing to state our total opposition to gyms being installed in Minet and Carnegie libraries. We want and need the libraries that were gifted to these communities.


    We are writing to ask GLL to see sense and withdraw from the hated plans to put gyms in Minet and Carnegie libraries.


    Where communities have been consulted about this (at Durning and Tate South Lambeth) they rejected the idea of a gym being installed.


    Lambeth has not had the courtesy to consult people living around Carnegie and Minet libraries but our community is united in its belief that installing a gym at the heart of our beloved library buildings is vandalism and dereliction of duty in the handling of public assets. 

    We absolutely oppose handing over the building to a private operator and we reject the offer of unstaffed study and community spaces. 


    People living around Minet library in Coldharbour, Vassall and Herne Hill wards suffer some of the most acute deprivation in Britain. People who use the libraries at present - including children to do homework - face multiple deprivation and live in some of the most overcrowded housing in the borough. The libraries are a crucial lifeline to opportunity and if we lose these libraries then Lambeth will be leaving our communities to rot. 

    We believe Lambeth is reacting out of short term panic and that we will live to regret their poverty of thinking over decades to come. Please show better judgement and withdraw from this deal before it's too late. To persist can only do harm to GLL’s reputation.


    Yours sincerely

  • 20 Mar 2016 6:25 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)

    A number of us gathered at Camberwell library on Saturday to try and get Sadiq Khan to help us defend libraries in Lambeth. After all, he has put that he intends to work with boroughs to save Libraries into his manifesto for London's Mayoral election, so we were hoping he'd start doing that before May 5th. 

    The irony of meeting in front of the brand new library in Southwark was not lost on us.  How is that one Labour-led council is able to invest in the next generation, building schools and libraries, when another is intent on closing down libraries? 

  • 18 Mar 2016 6:21 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)

    MINET LIBRARY to close on April 1st 2016

    To protest or make your voice heard:

    Please sign the online petitions

    Tell all your friends and family, email your councillors



    Cabinet member: leader of the council:

    and GLL (Greenwich leisure Ltd) who are turning our libraries into gyms:

    Come along to events:

    Monday 21st March 7pm Cabinet Meeting; Lilian Bayliss School

    Come along to the Lambeth Council Cabinet meeting and protest the closure of these libraries

    Tues 29th March 4 - 6pm Children’s book at bedtime

    bring a sleeping bag and pillow and read to your child (even if they’ve grown up!) everyone welcome

    Don’t steal  our Libraries - Help Save Lambeth's 10 Libraries

    follow us on @defendtheten / @SaveLambethLibs and on friends of minet library

    or find out more at

  • 07 Feb 2016 10:10 AM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)

    With just weeks to go to save our Libraries, the campaign to Defend the 10 goes on.  We need your support to convince Lambeth Council that we want to keep our Libraries, not turn them into gyms. 


    You can sign the petition in the Minet Library, turn out to support Library staff on Monday 8 February @ 12.30 and write to your local councillors to let them know how you feel.  For more information on all these and other actions you can take, see the Defend the 10 website.  

  • 03 Feb 2016 6:57 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)



    Thursday 4th February 7pm
    Brixton Library




    The council has a simple choice between two plans:

    1. The plan devised by libraries chief Susanna Barnes.
    This saves MORE money, saves library buildings and jobs, keeps all 10 libraries delivering the full service people want, and has the full support of residents.

    2. The current Culture2020 plan.
    This saves LESS money, wastes millions more on the widely ridiculed gyms idea, will reduce 5 libraries to almost nothing on 1 April, and is a PR disaster for the council. Even on the crudest financial basis, the Culture2020 plan does not add up. It would cost the council far more money, while it ruins a service that its most vulnerable citizens depend on. It took a long battle even to reveal the existence of Susanna Barnes’ plan, but councillors – notably the architect of the Culture 2020 plan and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods Jane Edbrooke – still wants to carry on with the ill thought out GLL option. We all need to somehow persuade the council to show some common sense – and please seriously look at this better and cost saving option.

    FOLL and UNISON have worked round the clock to publicise the plain facts, make reasoned arguments and demonstrate the bitter opposition of thousands of people all over the borough. Lambeth councillors are all still toeing the party line. Please get in touch with your councillor and ask them why they are not backing this plan from their own Head of Libraries in Lambeth



    For more information go to Friends of Lambeth Libraries website:

  • 25 Jan 2016 10:26 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)


    New plan to save Lambeth libraries

    Friends of Minet Library have welcomed a plan which claims it will save all ten Lambeth libraries while making all the cuts needed by Lambeth.

    Head of Lambeth Libraries Susannah Barnes has submitted the plan for a new community/staff mutual to Lambeth.

    Friends of Lambeth Libraries say:


    Here, at last, is the plan that can end all the protests, end the threat of strikes, remove the threat of judicial review and – above all – preserve a popular, high-performing library service that is bringing national kudos to Lambeth.


    IT IS WRITTEN BY SUSANNA BARNES, HEAD OF LIBRARIES, who in two short years (with full support of staff and residents) has made this under-funded service:
    • the TOP performer nationally for increases in usage
    • nationally recognised for a whole list of successful new services.

    • It makes EXACTLY THE SAME SAVINGS short-term
    • In the mid-term it makes MORE SAVINGS
    • It also offers MORE WAYS TO GENERATE future income.


    It can be put into action quickly, while the GLL plan is barely worked out, and is struggling to get even basic provisions set up.


    • Massive staff redundancies (25%)
    • Five out of 10 libraries reduced to a small ‘lounge’ with few books or PCs
    • The same five libraries to have NO staff at all to help people
    • Consequent serious harm to vulnerable groups including: small children, families, schoolkids and students, old people, disabled people, women, BME communities, people on low incomes, benefits claimants, and more.
    • Extra pressure on council services from those deprived of help and advice.
    • Heavy expenditure on unwanted gyms (£3m capital, £1m+ revenue)
    • Long closures while the gyms are installed
    • Elaborate mish-mash of up to five different trusts to run just 10 buildings – including handing valuable buildings to GLL at a peppercorn rent, already recognised as a financial risk to the
    • Very, very unpopular – as shown in demonstrations by hundreds of people, and over 10,000 signatures on petitions.


    • It keeps all 10 badly-needed libraries
    • It provides longer opening hours at all of them
    • It maintains Lambeth’s nationally famous, ground-breaking access service for people with sight problems or dyslexia – this won’t survive in the GLL plan
    • It introduces a much-needed schools library service
    • It develops a range of new, innovative specialist services including a computer design ‘fab lab’, extra support for unemployed people, business support, even more healthy living advice/activities – and more
    • It focuses clearly on Lambeth residents’ real needs and the council’s priorities, including: mental health, unemployment, poor IT skills and access, poverty, poor housing, social cohesion.


    REMEMBER – ALL THIS COMES AT LESS COST THAN THE CURRENT Culture2020 PLAN and the financial details are thoroughly worked out.






    See further details of the new plan here:

    To express your support email: (Cabinet member for Cultural Services)
    Local councillors:
    Paul Gadsby:
    Annie Gallop:
    Jacqui Dyer:

    The council will also be considering the future of our libraries at a meeting on Wednesday this week (
    27 January 2016) at 7.00 pm in the main hall, Elm Green School, Elmcourt Rd, London SE27 9BZ

  • 14 Jan 2016 6:47 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)

    Stop press: the detailed proposal to retain all ten Lambeth libraries has gone to the Council 

    At the beginning of January Susanna Barnes, Head of Libraries, sent Lambeth Council officers her plan to maintain a full service at all ten Lambeth libraries while making all the savings required by the Council in the next four years, on a financially sound calculation. This would be achieved through a staff/community mutual trust, on a pattern developed in other parts of the country.

    The background

    The proposal was first put to Lambeth officers last April during the public consultation on the Council’s proposals for cultural services policy to 2020. It was not taken forward by Council officers who instead put forward their proposal for half of Lambeth’s libraries to become library service points with minimal book and computer provision and no staff, and with three of these to be centred on a gym. Their proposal – set out in the document Culture 2020 – was approved by the Council last October. However Council officers were forced – by popular pressure and the recommendations of  a Council committee – to offer an opportunity to the Libraries manager to develop her proposals.

    The next steps

    The mutual trust proposal is now on the table. Discussions between Ms Barnes and Council officers will take place in January.  As soon as the proposal is made public – we hope before the end of this month – we will email members a link to the document and post it on this website

    The committee of the Friends of Minet Library fully supports Ms Barnes’ proposals. We hope you will too, once you've seen the details.


    Support Minet Library

    A survey of library users is being carried out this week. We would very much appreciate help from volunteers to gather responses. This would entail a couple of hours spent in the library asking people if they would fill in the questionnaire and answering any of their questions as they do so.  If you can help, please go along to Minet Library between 10am and 1pm.

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