Would you borrow a book from these people?

The News Shopper has a great summary of the bidders vying to take over some or all of Lewisham's libraries.

There are two candidates interested in taking on all four libraries, including Eco Computer Systems, a computer recycling social enterprise which has been highly active in promoting its case and We Think, a group led by Lewisham Community Sports that aims to turn the centres in to broader activity centres aimed at young people.

We Think's Toby Chambers gets docked points for confusing "less" with "fewer" in his quote:

“There’ll be books there and computers. But it’s about redefining what a library’s role in society is going to be. We’re saying less is more - less books but more quality.”

Charity Family Services UK wants to use New Cross library as its new HQ.

Finally, pity poor Sydenham library, which has been targeted by the New Testament Church of God, whose presentation makes them sound as credible as this fictitious one.


Anonymous said...

Something that's just occurred to me and I've not seen mentioned elsewhere (though could have just missed it) is how the newly run libraries will interact with the other Lewisham libraries - if at all. One of the joys of a borough-wide library system is being able to order a book held at another branch / log on and check availability at all. Anyone know how that's going to work?

Bookworm said...

Definitely points gone for the less/fewer gaff. In any case, a library should be about books, the more the better surely.

Bexhill Rd George said...

I'm not that bothered by the less/fewer shenanigans. Our language should evolve over time. I say extra points for trying to be rhetorical.

I particularly liked the quote in the News Shopper for Project manager Ify Obu, Omega:

'...If you look at what’s going on in Sydenham now there’s killings, stabbings and a lot of teenage pregnancies, things like that.”

I wanted him to say 'sh*t like that' but I guess that wouldn't be Christian.

Lou Baker said...

A pointless exercise designed to appeal to the lefties.

Close the libraries, sell the buildings, transfer the books to Lewisham library instead.

The country is a financial pickle and we all need to make sacrifices.

Travelling an extra mile to a properly maintained, equipped and stocked central library is hardly a big ask.

But, sadly, no politician is brave enough to tell voters the truth. Partly because many voters don't want the truth, and partly because many are too stupid to understand that all these so called 'free' services are actually hugely - and unnecessarily - expensive.

Anonymous said...

Yep,close the Libraries,the ones who lose there jobs the Council will be paying there wages in the housing benefit and council tax they will be claiming.

Bexhill Rd George said...

There/theirs aside I do agree with @anon.

Lou, you've probably been told this before but to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, it appears you know the cost of everything but the value of nothing. Get out more, learn to enjoy the simple things in life.

Anonymous said...

I went to the drop-in thingy last night with a fair degree of cynicism to find out more about the proposals. I had expected to be given some kind of short briefing paper/summary of the proposals, but there wasn't one, you just had to queue to speak to each person and ask questions, which was rather frustrating.

That said, the displays on each stand said a lot about the seriousness of the bid, and I thought the Eco Computers proposal was head and shoulders above the 'We think' one for Crofton Park Library. I think there are still some details that officers would need to look into as to the financial viability of the proposal, but it potentially involves retaining almost all of the current book space, and employing a full-time library manager.

As I understand it, all the libraries lending/borrowing facilities would still be fully integrated with the rest of the borough's libraries, which sounded promising.

I'm afraid I was completely put off the 'We think' proposal by the grammatical errors in the posters, the use of jargon like 'consumer experience' to talk about your library visit, and their apparent intention to use the libraries as bases for the Lewisham Community Sports Summer Camps.

So all in all, while I'd still like to have seen more of these savings come from genuine efficiency savings, capping senior mgmt pay etc, rather than making modestly-paid, hard-working librarians redundant, I thought officers had made a genuine effort to engage with groups and get alternatives to simply closing the facilities and losing them for good.

pedant said...

Definitely points gone for misspelling "gaffe" ;-)

I do wish I'd been able to resist pointing that out.

The presidio said...


Lou, are you familiar with the idea of providing facilities that benefit people? Helping educate kids? Providing a facility to learn in? Etc.... No, clearly not.

By the way, when are you going to move on from the tedious lefty stereotypes? It's as daft as the those who labor all financial sector workers as cocaine snorting fat cats. Great for a cartoon but does your rather weak argument no favours.

Anonymous said...

To be fair I have a few mates in banks and they all love a bit of it. As do most of the 'artisans' in brockley!

Knobster said...

Dosnt change the essential point, Lou is a self important windbag with nothing new or interesting to say other than regurgitating soundbites even the mail would find embarrassing

Anonymous said...

Could it be the reporter got it wrong, in the Mercury Toby Chamber's is quated as saying...'There would be fewer books than there are now....'

Isn't one of the bids asking the council to fund its plan (£236,000)for the first year, till it is in profit?

Rather than books on shelves why not issue e-book devices?

Anonymous said...

Re stereotype lefties check out the names of those occuppying the former Deptford Job Centre...and what they've been involved in.

Get behind some of the 'locked' forums they contribute to, to see how stereotypical they are.

babybrain said...

@Lou....Easy enough for someone who has no mobility problems, mental health issues or young children, what about elderly folk , the children granted just enough independence to be allowed to walk to their library alone, professionals with a busy job or study schedule, kids who attend homework groups, those without the money to spend on extra public transport and so on.. You shouldn't go around calling people ' stupid ' ; it shows what an ignoramous you are for labelling people you have never met and, hopefully for them, never will. As for being ' unnecessarily ' expensive, thats an issue to take up with the Council itself, poor management doesn't mean that libraries should close to recoup or prevent further losses. Everyone who uses the library knows the service is not entirely free, people pay fines, hire dvds and cds for a small fee and if you need a book ordered in there is usually a small charge.

Lou Baker said...


Pensioners and kids get 'free' travel. The less mobile have Dial a Ride. These are all taxpayer funded services - are they inadequate?

I have never said we should close all the libraries. But we could improve the library service - AND spend less on it - by rationalising it. Lewisham is a small borough. It does not need 11 libraries - especially as most of them are in poorly maintained buildings, with insufficient choice and limited opening hours. Crofton Park, for example, is closed on Sunday and Wednesday and has a half day on Friday. It's only open during office hours on Monday. So for the working man (or woman) the only times you can visit during the working are on Tues and Thurs evenings - providing you can get there by 7. How lame.

Far better would be to have 2 or 3 libraries opened from early morning til late at night and at weekends. That's a far better service - and would be cheaper to run - than what we have now.

Troll Assessor. said...

better lou, better. Your arguing your point like an adult. Keep it up.

Bookworm said...

Umm yes, pedant, it's a fair cop. In my defence I mainly had a problem with this: '...it's about redefining what a library's role in society is going to be. We're saying less is more - less books but more quality'.
What does it mean? Libraries with books are not good quality? Libraries shouldn't have books? I would take issue with both these, without even going into the issue of whether we need libraries in Lewisham. I made a spelling mistake but I'm not Toby Chambers who should have taken rather more care if he wants to make a credible bid.

Christine said...

Definitely agree with Bookworm. Don't really care about the less/fewer thing but anyone who wants to take over a library and thinks "less/fewer books" is a winning slogan doesn't get my vote.

THNick said...

I'm happy with "less" - perhaps they were referring to the amount of space for books?
Lou - as ever you have constructed a straw man of library users to attack. You have ignored the people who use the library for things other than borrowing books; you have ignored the users that cannot travel easily to Lewisham (e.g. schoolchildren who go to their local library after school). And I disagree that most people do not understand that "free" services cost money, the stupid people are those that think that cutting spending doesn't lead to a future deficit every bit as dangerous as one created by borrowing money.

Lou Baker said...


Nice waffle - only school kids don't flock to local libraries after school. Especially not on Wednesday, when
it's closed. Or Friday. When it's also closed. Or Sunday. When it's closed.

We should concentrate on fewer better libraries - rather than more poor ones. Absolutely make a library a hub of community events - classrooms for adult learning, soft play and singing for toddlers, coffee shop for parents, computer lessons for those without IT skills. But you do that by providing fewer better libraries - which can actually be bothered to open on a Wednesday or a Friday after school.

Most people simply don't understand that free services are not free. If they did they wouldn't put up with the NHS - which costs average wage earners about £2k a year and provides a shocking service in return. If we got actual bills for our share rather than it vanishing into a pot there'd be outrage.

And, no, you don't create a deficit by cutting spending. You get rid of the waste, you get rid of the red tape, you put incentives in place for business to recruit and you cut taxes. That's how you grow an economy. Not by taxing more and creating thousands of non jobs in the public sector.

M said...

Lou, in my experience the NHS provides an amazing service on a very limited budget. My 2 year old son was taken seriously ill last Saturday and we had to call an ambulance - they turned up in minutes, got him to Lewisham hospital, did tests (opening up the closed ultrasound room because it was safer than an X-ray) and (thankfully) gave him the all clear. The whole time the staff were efficient and pleasant to deal with.
This is not my only positive experience of the NHS and I'm more than happy to pay £2k a year for it.

Just sayin' said...

I wonder what $2k of cover would buy you in the US?

I've mostly seen a great service from the NHS, sometimes not so great. Overall I'm more than happy.

Yes, non jobs are bad. Plenty of those in all sectors so not really clear on your point other than an irational, tabloid, fear of the public sector.

you see.... said...

Cheap at twice the price I'd say.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised no one has considered turning part of Crofton Park Library into a cafe / bar. It would certainly do some good trade given the location. And being able to read from a broad choice of books and papers, whilst sipping a latte would be lovely. They could even do special sunday brunchies, with the andrew marr show on, whilst people sit arund and chat and drink and eat and discuss. Poetry evenings, learning sessions. Plus it already has computers and free wifi. Could be a hit. tea, coffee and books. Whats not to love?

Another idea, is to sell the building completely and build a new library adjoining Brockley primary school. This would be benefit both the community and the school, and could potentially reduce costs. I know of one other school in cornwall that is doing this.

patrick1971 said...

@BrockleyFox: a cafe? A cafe? But don't you know that would appeal to the MIDDLE CLASS, who are not REAL Brockley!!

I think Lou has a point. Sad as it is to lose local libraries, with times as they are, surely one large, well resourced library with seven day opening is the way forward? Lewisham's not exactly remote, and most of the schoolkids could easily jump on a bus (for "free"!) after school to get there - as indeed many already do, to judge by the buses & the High Street at 4pm.

Anonymous said...

Brockley's quota of cafes has reached saturation levels

Brockley Nick said...

An interesting assertion. There are really only 3 'coffee shops" in the whole of Brockley I can think of: Browns, Broca, Mess. All three are different and all three appear to be doing well, having found their own customer base.

I'm not sure there isn't room for another...

a good honest moan said...

I tell you what has reached saturation point: The amount of postings from anonymous pilchard- faced arseholes that keep sniping from the side-lines about anything remotely positive in the area.

Anonymous said...

@BrockleyFox The Eco Computers proposal does include a cafe and, (Lou take note)longer opening hours!

Anonymous said...

@ Sue

Oh right, i was not aware of the Eco computers plan to install a cafe. Well then, it might just work. And if they sell take away coffee in the mornings, then they could do a roaring trade with commuters, possibly leading to a few extra jobs.
And if they keep the library side of things intact, then well, it's not a bad situation. They would certainly get my vote.

Brockley Nick said...

@Sue - out of interest, do they plan a proper "cafe" or just somewhere to buy coffee?

pedant said...

@Bookworm: having with great difficulty dragged my eyes away from the trees and started looking at the wood instead, I quite agree with you.

Those responsible for libraries have always had to exercise discrimination in choosing which books to stock. These people apparently feel that they can be better judges of "quality", but can't even write grammatically. Not a good start.

Tamsin said...

The Newshopper summary says "coffee shop" so I suspect that it is just a place to buy a cup of coffee and a bun, cake or pastry (to go as you commute or eat in as you use the facilities). This is what they have in Pepys. A full blown cafe with food prep., kitchen, tables etc. must add hugely to the investment, risk and space usage for what I would suggest is little benefit.

Lou Baker said...

@just saying

You make the mistake of assuming that I think we should have a US system of healthcare - because I dare criticise the NHS.

I think the principle behind the NHS is basically sound. Healthcare that's largely free at the point of delivery. (I say 'largely free' because the NHS isn't totally free now and should charge for some things it doesn't). However, I also think the NHS needs pretty drastic reform to make it better. And it really is not just about money. The NHS has plenty of money - it just doesn't spend it very well. I have private healthcare - it costs me a small fraction of what I pay towards the NHS each year. But the hospitals are clean, the treatment quick, the staff helpful and the appointments system is simple. None of that applies to the NHS and I think it should. We deserve better.

As for private companies wasting money on
'non jobs' - that's true, some do. But that only
costs the company shareholders and its customers. And customers and shareholders have a choice. Taxpayers do not.

I am not anti public services. I am pro excellent public services and anti bad ones. For anyone sensible there should be nothing objectionable about this.

Anonymous said...

If, like me, you have some kind of supplementary care through private provision then your not making a fair comparison. No g cover, no a&e cover, no drugs, limited cover for "chronic" conditions, limitations on out patients cover, next to no cover for mental illness, a limited number of private hospitals, etc, etc.....

It's cheap because the NHS is your primary cover.

babybrain said...

@ Lou, Kids only travel free on buses, and only until a certain age. And I certainly wouldn't like my 9 year old bussing 3 miles to Lewisham on her own, she panics in crowds. Dial a ride doesn't cover all disabled or elderly people. Free travel for OAPs is only available on buses, not trains. Strangely many kids use New Cross Library after school and at the weekend....some are even reading books without adults making them...Wonder where they would go if their library was closed to them ?

babybrain said...

@ Brockley Nick..The plans by Eco Computers for NX Library showed a cafe area withe seating plan, plus a sofa area too.

Anonymous said...

where will funding come from for the different proposals?

Lou Baker said...


If New Cross library closes they could go to the library at Deptford Wavelengths instead. A short bus ride. And for those who have a spurious excuse for being unable to take a bus they can walk the extra 0.7 of a mile. That's about a 10 minute walk. If that.

You've made lots of excuses about why people can't do this, can't do that, why travelling a little bit extra is so terrible. The alternative is simple. If you are desperate to save every library get together with a bunch of likeminded people and you pay for it. You fork out the cash. Put your money where your mouth is and pay up.

Only you won't You want others to pay for your convenience.


You are right. It is not entirely fair to compare the NHS to private healthcare. The NHS exists - it is there, it is going nowhere. Private healthcare in this country exists on the basis that it is supplementary to the NHS, not a replacement for it. If the NHS did not exist private companies would fill the gap for those willing to pay. But the NHS does exist so we're left where we are.

But where there are areas that can be compared the NHS ends up wanting. The hospitals are dirtier. The staff are less helpful. The hours are more inconvenient. The appointments system is ludicrous. There is no reason why the NHS can't watch, learn and improve - except that vested interests both within and outside the NHS refuse to accept any change.

max said...

Very entertaining Lou.

"If the NHS did not exist private companies would fill the gap for those willing to pay."

You forgot the second part of the argument though, those willing but 'unable' to pay.

Of course no one willing to pay will ever get anything really expensive to treat that's not covered by insurance.
Because that only happens to Americans doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

......and wait until you are post 65 when people start to see much more of the gp and hostpitals than they woul like. I wonder how "cheap" the cover will be then? Everyone pays, think of it as a contribution for what you will undoubtably be using extensively when bits start falling off.

babybrain said...

@ Lou..Why be so vindictive? Spurious reasons, how do you know who has genuine and who has spurious reasons? Who are you to judge whether a child you don't know has the ability to cope with certain situations and the relevant road sense to traverse busy main roads alone? I've not asked anybody to pay for anything for my ' convenience '... And if you knew much about whats going on behind the scenes re saving the libraries you'd know that people are trying to do their bit. Unfortunately its not as simple as people clubbing together to uy a library and so on...especially as none of us could afford to invest financially in it! Goodness me, I've not made excuses,just pointed out some flaws in your original comment. No, travelling a little bit more isn't terrible if you're able, and neither is walking a little bit more....As someone who walks 3 or more miles regularly, and whose kids do the same that wouldn't bother me. Luckily I know how to use my legs and don't rely on others for the convenience of travelling. Interesting that you didn't feel able to reply re. the amount of children using the library, perhaps you have no children so aren't really interested in the idea that they actually enjoy using it.

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