A statement from the Council suggests that finding independent providers for Lewisham's threatened libraries will be the best hope for retaining library services:
Lewisham Council is seeking organisations and community groups that may be interested in taking over one or more of the five library buildings being considered for closure.
Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock deferred a decision on the proposed closure of five of the borough’s 12 libraries last month to allow time for community solutions to be explored. The libraries affected are Blackheath, Crofton Park, Grove Park, New Cross and Sydenham.
“We would like to explore ways in which community library services could continue to be provided from these or other buildings,” said Councillor Chris Best, Cabinet Member for Community Services.
“The Council would continue to provide books as well as providing visiting library services, such as storytelling, homework sessions and reading groups. If we were to agree to these closures we would prefer to retain most of the buildings in community use. We are looking for vibrant organisations to take over the management of the buildings and ensure that they continue to stand at the heart of the community.”
The Council is prepared to transfer buildings to organisations on a lease or, exceptionally, freehold where possible. Anyone interested would need to prepare a business case setting out how the ongoing running costs would be funded. Continued community use will be a requirement, but the buildings could also be used for other purposes that could generate revenue.
Information packs will be available from 10 December 2010. To register to receive a pack please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for expressions of interest is Thursday 20 January 2011.