Lewisham decides to hand over libraries

In today's Lewisham Council budget meeting, the Mayor accepted officers' recommendation that five libraries in the borough be closed unless a third party can be found to take over their running.

Crofton Park library is among those targeted for closure.

Snipe reports:

Blackheath Village Library, Sydenham Library, Crofton Park Library, New Cross Library and Grove Park Library will all close their doors from the 28th May this year.

The plan met with fierce opposition from local residents, who recently held a read-in protest across the borough.

Libraries fulfill an important role as a community meeting space and provide vital access to books and the internet to those on low incomes and Crofton Park Library is a handsome building, much loved by those who use it and forms an important part of a successful high street. The public sector should invest to equip people with knowledge and opportunity - space to work, read or think is a precious public resource.

However, it is also the case that Crofton Park Library is under-used, under-resourced and has a top floor that is unoccupied. It is surely true that it could be better - and that there is no reason why a social enterprise shouldn't be allowed to try to do a better job.

Some organisations have expressed an interest in taking over its running. If a group can deliver its core remit while using the space more imaginatively and developing new revenue streams, then this could be good news. But that is a very big 'if'.

If not, then we have lost something very special.