The Occupation of Carnegie Library

11Apr16

Closure Of Carnegie Library In Lambeth

Phew. Three years since I last posted on this blog.

Over the past 10 days I probably bored the pants off some of you with the ‪#‎carnegielibrary‬ hashtag on Twitter so apologies for that (I don’t really).

The closure of our Carnegie Library by Lambeth Council started out as a local issue 300 yards from our front door but became a national – then by the end, an international story.

When you start a project like this there is no certainty of outcome and you therefore get swept along on with the emotions of day-to-day news and rumours.

Many of you will have got involved in local issues but it’s not common for us to find ourselves with feet in both camps – as reporters and sympathisers. I started to explain to people asking who I was and why I was always hanging around taking so many bloody pictures. So at first I’d say something like ‘I’m a photographer and happen to live just over there’ .. and as the week went on, I’d hear myself saying ‘I’m a library user and resident and also happen to be a photographer’.

This threw me completely at one point and I seriously questioned which way I should be swinging my bat to the point that by last Saturday, just before the occupiers of our public building finally emerged through the front gates to see 2,000+ locals blocking our road, I found myself trying to stage-manage the end picture, organising the Unison people how the occupiers might come out: ‘youngest first etc’. Not that it seemed to matter as inevitably, all Hell broke loose anyway though I remember twice telling a young lad at the front to put his pointy stick down as it was going to spoil the picture.

The youngest occupiers were 11 month-old twins; a police officer joins the Saturday Chess club.

Local issues like the closure of a library (main cliche coming) gels a community together in ways I’d never realised and it was marvellous seeing very clever and motivated people who have returned to their office jobs this morning, using their individual skills to get extraordinary things done.

Closure Of Carnegie Library In Lambeth

 The occupiers lived in the library for 10-days, fed and watered by the kindness of locals.

This has little to do with cuts but council mismanagement and secrecy and the library this morning is locked. It’s 20,000 books are still on the shelves with no-one to read or borrow them. The A-level students and adult literacy group will have to study together elsewhere as will the lonely and elderly who just want to talk – not to mention the desperate who need local help from trained librarians.

This isn’t just about books. Shame on Lambeth’s Labour Council.

Anyway, if you’d care to, go to my fav 40 pictures and the site of  the Friends of Carnegie Library 

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