FEARS have been raised that council plans to hand control of Carnegie Library over to the public could spell the end for the century-old library..
The Herne Hill building could be transformed into a ‘community hub’ and ran by residents under proposals due to be released to the public at a consultation next month.
The idea has been hailed as a ‘terrific idea’ by Lambeth Council – but local councillors say the council want to ‘wash their hands’ of the building and have allowed it to deteriorate.
A board of locals would be responsible for the management and funding of the Grade II-listed building, which was donated to Lambeth by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1906, while the council would continue to run the library service.
Leader of the Lambeth Conservatives Tim Briggs said: “The Labour group running Lambeth Council has been trying to wash their hands of the library for years, with cuts in its opening hours and funding, and by allowing it to become run down.
“Handing the library over to the local community in a neglected state is typical of an administration with a huge majority that just does whatever it wants.”
Jonathan Bartley, leader of the Lambeth Green Party, said: “The underlying motive is to transfer responsibility for the building, which needs several million pounds of investment, and to reduce the costs of the essential public library service.
“There is no long-term commitment by the council to maintain the library service at the Carnegie, and there is the risk that this service will progressively dwindle and be removed or be run entirely as a volunteer service.”
Jeff Doom, chair of the Friends of Carnegie Library, said the group was formed in 1999 when the library narrowly escaped being closed by the council.
“The building is always under threat of closure so we need to find new ways to make it work,” he said.
Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “This is potentially a terrific project and we would encourage as many local people as possible to get involved and have their say.”