Closing libraries in Lewisham ‘a false economy’ comments SSL representative Dr Alice Corble

Campaigners fear cuts to libraries could serve a devastating blow to local democracy.

Lewisham council had lined up a £450,000 cut to library services earlier this month before the decision was postponed until April while feasibility tests are run rebuilding the Lewisham Library.

The Save Lewisham Libraries (SLL) campaign are battling to protect the four council run libraries in Catford, Downham, Deptford and Lewisham – that have around 60 members of staff across them.

SSL representative Dr Alice Corble, a Goldsmith’s University of London lecturer, said: “I am invested in defending public libraries because their mission as public services embodies the essence of democracy, openness and transparency.

Children protesting cuts to libraries

“They are the go-to place for information, social inclusion and open access to public culture. “But the way the are being treated by local government – not just in Lewisham but across the country – is all too often not open, transparent or accountable to the people who constitute them, ie library users, staff and the general tax- paying public.”

In 2010, Lewisham had 12 public libraries. In 2011, five were transferred to volunteers and three more were cut from the public purse in 2015. Dr Corble, 39, said: “Closing libraries is a complete false economy. The array of people we see and problems we deal with is staggering.

“Too many councillors and politicians just see libraries as a building with books. They do not see how it connects with so many other problems we are experiencing in local democracy.

“We are moving to an information-based economy, while we shut out the people who need information the most.”

The feasibility tests being run on Lewisham Library will consider options that include the building of new rented council owned homes, to help pay for a new library.

Plans to relocate the library while building work is under way are also being considered.

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