Friends and Users of Crofton Park Library united?

Kate Veatch: Are you reading the dictionary?
White Goodman: Oh, you caught me. I like to break a mental sweat too.
- Dodgeball

Since the announcement that Crofton Park Library is threatened with closure, we’ve been thinking about the following:

• Local businesses told us that there is a lack of flexible work space for micro businesses and sole traders in Brockley
• A number of events and discussion groups have contacted us because they haven’t been able to find suitable meeting space in the area
• Many times over the years, BC readers have suggested starting a book-swapping club in Brockley
• Sue Luxton explained that the top floor of Crofton Park library is currently unused
• Lewisham Council have indicated that they’d be willing to give the library to a community group
• Lots of big companies (some of which we work for in our day job) are keen to show their commitment to support local enterprise, re-training and local community development by providing sponsorship and donations.

Given all this, there seems to be the potential to find a new role for the library as a more versatile community centre, which provides a broader range of services and support for local people and companies, generating new revenue streams and making the case against closure even stronger.

Sue Luxton is proposing to set up a Crofton Park Library Users Group to explore the options to save it. She writes:

I've had a chat with one or two people about setting up a Crofton Park Library Users Group and wondered if you could test the water on Brockley Central to see if there would be interest?
If there is perhaps we can arrange an initial meeting fairly swiftly to establish such a group.

In both cases, the groups were formed when there were previous threats to close the facilities.

While I don't want to get divisive and argue in favour of closing other libraries rather than Crofton Park, I do think it's crucial that the voice of Crofton Park library users is also heard over the next few months.

The catchment area is pretty big, stretching from perhaps Stanstead Road in the south, including the Honor Oak estate and a fair chunk of Brockley and Ladywell wards, as well as Crofton Park.

In addition to arguing the case for keeping the library open, a Friends and Users Group could apply for grants/funding (what little there may be around), which Councils aren't. One of the arguments that I suspect will be used to justify closing Crofton Park Library will be the poor physical state of the building - the roof needs replacing/repairing and as I posted a few days back, there is potential to bring the upper floor into some kind of use. Bringing in outside funding to help with that might just help to secure the future of the library (I may of course be wildly optimistic here, but worth a try).

If someone else is already on the case and getting a group together, then that's great, please let' us have the details and we can join forces.

Incidentally, I was wrong about Gwen, the librarian - she's worked for Lewisham Libraries for 40 years, not 30, and is retiring in a few weeks so if the worst comes to the worst, she won't be made redundant after all her years of service.

By the way, I'm proposing this in an individual, rather than party political capacity.


Anonymous said...

could the library be turned into affordable housing?

Lara said...

Well done Sue, I'm very interested in this; what the cost cutters don't seem to appreciate is that libraries aren't just about books and there are wide ranging community and business uses which can be hosted in these buildings; anything that can continue and spark community uses will get my support.

Marisa said...

I use this library at least once a week. I really enjoy going in because it's more intimate and personal compared to the other libraries in the borough. The staff are really friendly and happy to help. I also donate all my books I've read so that they get recycled to other users. I will be soooooo gutted if they close this down. How do we start the user group?

oryx said...

I'd be interested in joining a group. If Crofton Park Library is lost in the next round of cuts, it's lost for future generations and indeed forever. :-(

Anonymous said...

Convert part of it into 'rent a desk' office space and that will create an income stream.

Maybe a secondhand book shop could augment the library.

There are lots of possibilities that could be brainstormed.

The Lewisham Art House was a good example of an old library being recycled into a useful space. It would see nice to see Crofton Park retain it's association with books and information.

Maybe they could rent information desks at some commercial rate back to Lewisham council or some other public body.

Matt-Z said...

I'd be interested in this too.

If the community is up for running (or contributing to the running of) the library, with or without a Community Centre or any other new development of the space, then it's got to have a chance of being saved.

Incidentally when it comes to sprucing the place up Community Repaint is a good start. I'm sure there would be volunteers to get stuck in. But major works might prove harder to achieve.

Carys said...

I'd be willing to help in any capacity to help save the library - thank you Sue for initiating it. Hopefully we can get the ball rolling some time soon. I'll keep checking for any developments.

TJ said...

If up for any supporting - let us know how and when

fabhat said...

I use Crofton Park Library every week (yes Lou I'm now an annoying mummy going to baby bounce) There are baby bounce sessions across all the borough libraries, but the staff at CP are so good at doing the sessions, as well (as helpful and kind beyond their remit) that they get packed out well beyond what you'd expect in a small library...
The idea of using the upper floor for community projects/business space seems a great idea. I know telegraph hill centre has some mixed community/local business spaces and they might be worth contacting for advice? It also might be well worth popping by CP just after 11.30am on a Friday to get those baby bounce users support for any project too.

Barryls said...

Great ideas, would be such a shame to lose such a great potential resource.

Count me in!

Anonymous said...

Give us a time and place Sue and I' ll be there


Nux said...

I think using the upper floor for office space/meeting space sounds like a very sensible idea, and I would be very happy to join a user group and volunteer time if it meant saving such a valuable resource. Let me know what I can do to help.

Sue said...

OK, thanks all for responses - sounds like it's worth organising a meeting. I suspect finding a time to suit everyone will be impossible, as we have the daytime users with small kids and also those who perhaps pop in only at the weekends/after work.

As I work daytime, I'm going to suggest Tuesday 27th July at 6.30pm. The library is open until 7pm on that day, so I'll see whether we can meet there, or failing that Crofton Park Baptist Church/ St Hilda's. Will let you know asap and will then need people to help publicise it by putting up notices in appropriate places, telling neighbours etc.

Fabhat: can you discuss this with the parents at the Bounce group on Friday, and get a list of interested names and e-mail addresses please?

Anyone up for contacting the groups at either Manor House or Blackheath Village Library and finding out a bit more about them?

maria said...

Next week is the last week of school term. If you are planning a meeting it might be a good idea to put some posters up near the local schools. Our family use the library regularly and we had no idea of the closure plans.

Karen Jonason said...

I have sent petition forms into 8 local schools. Local businesss are also taking petitions

mg said...

Mr Lawrence has a sign up for the petition (seemed to be plenty of people signing last night) but I didn't see any info on the meeting.

Miles Nelson, Devonshire Road said...

Given Mr Camerons big speech on Big Society, and given this libraries uniquely useful place in the community - it servers two junior schools - and local nurserys frequently walk the chiildren in their care to the library for 'outings' - would it not be possible if Lewisham deem it necessary to close it, do take it 'private' as a volunteer run branch of lewisham libraries - surely this is what the speech was about. use local business to fund (by renting space, offering services) the building and continue to run the library as a voluntary scheme??

Please this library is too useful to lose

fabhat said...

Sue, I'm so sorry - I missed your message about speaking to the baby bounce parents, but I can do that this week or next week. Is there any news/update on plans since the meeting on Monday?

Anonymous said...

surely someone has read the officer advice to Mayor and Cabinet over this decision? they were adised, on 11th May 2011 that there were considerable risks attached to the bid from Eco Computer Systems., finaical, business,poorly maintained buildings. Quote, "Should either the financial or building related risks arise this could lead to a reputational risk tot he council," the punchline is "Officers acknowledge that these risks are real and that possible mitigation measures are limited." Draw your own conclusions.
The fact that library provision is statutory by Act of Parliament brings it into the rule of law. lewisham's library service will no longer provide a "comprehensive and efficient service for all its residents." And by the way, the £200,000 tossed down to Blackheath village residents would have served New Cross well. they should be utterly ashamed!

Cassie Markham

millwall chick x said...

I use this libary for homework! It doesn't deserve to shut down!!!! Why turn it into housing, another building?????? Keep it as a libary! We need to fight to keep it open!!!!!!!

Brockley Central Label Cloud