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What does Lambeth’s ‘cooperative libraries’ plan mean for Waterloo?

London SE1 website team

Waterloo Library could have its budget cut by more than 40 per cent over the next two years under plans set out by Lambeth Council.

Following the report of the borough's libraries commission which was considered by Lambeth's cabinet last November, the council is now consulting on how to implement a library service in line with its cooperative council philosophy.

At the same time it is seeking to make cuts of £750,000 in the library service over the next two years, in addition to savings already made in the current year.

This Wednesday the council will host a public meeting at Waterloo Action Centre to enable local residents to comment on plans for the future of the library service.

Open for just 31.5 hours a week, Waterloo Library received 40,156 visits last year and 24,552 books were issued.

Last November council leader Steve Reed promised that Waterloo Library would be "relocated to a better building" from its present temporary structure in Lower Marsh.

One possibility is that the library could move back into its historic home in the Waterloo Action Centre building. It is clear, however, that any future library in Waterloo will have substantially less funding than at present.

In 2011/12 Waterloo Library has a budget allocation of £150,000 after borough-wide library service costs are considered. The most drastic of the four options set out in the council's consultation document would see see Waterloo's funding cut to £102,000 in 2012/13 and £82,000 in 2013/14.

Friends of Waterloo Library

The Friends of Waterloo Library recently submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. Here is an extract:

"The recent threat of library closure by Lambeth Council led, in late January 2011, to the reviving of the group. In response the Friends have held drop in events at the Library to raise awareness of Lambeth's approach to library services and to share information with the community. The Friends drew up a petition and in one week over 300 signatures were collected showing support to 'Save Waterloo Library'. Representatives from the Friends attended Open Space events held by Library Commissioners and met with both local councillor Peter Truesdale and MP Kate Hoey.

"Waterloo Library sits in the northernmost tip of the London Borough of Lambeth. The 2001 census poverty index for the local ward show 10% of all households severely deprived with 58% of people on benefits, resulting in social exclusion. There are a number of very wealthy households in the ward which mask higher levels of deprivation and social exclusion elsewhere in the area. There is a high percentage of traditionally hard to reach groups such as black and ethnic minorities, single parent families, young parents and others new to the UK with limited English.

"In an area which does not have numerous community facilities, Waterloo Library offers people a safe and clean environment where they have the opportunity to meet other people in the area. It provides the community with local information and allows those with English as a Second Language to access the tools with which to improve their language skills.

"The library is a vital local resource for residents, visitors and workers in Waterloo. There is available a wide range of books, music, DVDs, newspapers and local information. Computer and internet access is free and essential for those who do not have a pc at home. The adult book readers and toddler storytime are active groups. The library is a welcoming haven for all to visit. An estimated 40,000 visits per year are made to this very small, inadequately resourced library.

"Waterloo Library offers a wealth of facilities, as well as being a focal point in this busy but socially deprived community. It has significant local support and closure of the Library would result in further erosion of community services and deprive residents, workers, visitors and local businesses, and schools of the many services, and activities that are on offer."

Read the evidence in full

The cooperative libraries consultation continues until 20 April. Further consultation sessions will be held at Waterloo Library on Tuesday 27 March (7pm-9pm) and Wednesday 11 April (10am-12 noon)

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