Time to turn our attention south of the River Trent once more.
A number of libraries in the Lewisham area (Sydenham, Crofton Park, New Cross, Blackheath Village and Grove Park) are threatened with closure.
In each case, campaigns to oppose this are underway and there appears to be a degree of co-operation between the different groups.
Necessarily, most of those involved are ad-hoc groups of library users and staff who have come together only recently.
The exception is the very interesting Blackheath Village Users Group ( http://www.bvrg.org.uk/ ) , who argue that their area represents a unique combination of urban living and village life and are intent on preserving it`s unique character. As you`ll see if you check out the link I`ve provided, they campaign on local issues, circulate information and aim to increase community spirit.
Will all the libraries involved be saved ? It seems unlikely, but the individuals and groups concerned have raised pertinent issues that are not about to go away, particularly with regard to the fate of the building(s) concerned - the New Cross group in particular do not want the building standing derelict if their library goes. Other questions concern leasing arrangements - in the case of one particular library (sorry, can`t recall which) there`s a suggestion that the council may be obliged to pay rent on the building for a fixed period even if it is standing empty.
Naturally, this is not the place to go into immense detail, but I have found some useful articles online ;
Kelly Smale - Sydenham : Library Users Petitioning to Fight Closure (2 September 2010) - http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/ .
Saving New Cross Library (17 September 2010) - http://transpont.blogspot.com/ .
Alan Gibbons - Latest From Lewisham Libraries Campaign (24 September 2010) http://alangibbons.net/ .
`Brockley Nick` - Crofton Park Library Campaign Secures 4,600 Supporters ( 26 September 2010 ) - http://brockleycentral.blogspot.com/
Related interest ;
Alan Gibbons, mentioned above, is a children`s writer of many years standing who once won a Blue Peter Award (did he have to make it himself out of sticky-back plastic ?) . His blog has details of similar campaigns in other areas ;
John and Joyce Sheppard - Dear Mr Miliband (28 September 2010) - http://alangibbons.net/ (Text of a letter sent to Ed Miliband MP and copied to Rosie Winterton MP concerning the potential closure of three libraries in Doncaster).
Steve Barlow and others - Authors Protest Against Somerset Library Cutbacks ( 26 September 2010 ) - http://alangibbons.net/ ( Text of leter signed by writers Steve Barlow, Jeremy Strong, Sue Purkiss, Kathryn White and Eileen Browne and sent to Ken Maddock, Leader of Somerset County Council, concerning cuts to the library service in the area.)
Ian Clark - Libraries : The Foundation for a Democratic Society ( 22 September 2010 ) www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/wordpress
Unsigned - Friends Form to Bring Council to Book ( 28 September 2010 ) www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/ (Friends of Cheltenham Library) .
Reader`s Letter - We Must Do All We Can to Protect our Libraries ( 29 September 2010 ) - http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/ (Friends of Cheltenham Library).