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.