Sydenham Library Campaign Update, Lewisham


The life peer and philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock, and Guardian columnist Lucy Mangan are among a number of local authors, poets and celebrities expected to take part in a read-in at Sydenham Library on Saturday 5thFebruary as part of a national day of protests at proposed library cuts across the UK.  Also expected to attend are children’s writers of the Stripy Horse series Karen Wall & Jim Helmore, local author Julie Day and poet Chrissie Gittins whose poem Longing to be Heard is in honour of Sydenham Library. 

Highlights of the day will be readings from each of the authors, a singing and music session for children, and a party outside the library.  The event will culminate in a balloon release.  There will also be a performance by Sly and Reggie, the dub group who have penned the song We Love Libraries.

Sydenham Library is one of five libraries in Lewisham under threat of closure.  The popular historic library opened in 1904 and was one of the first Carnegie libraries built in England, gifted by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to the community.  Today it has around 6,000 visitors each month.

Campaigners to save Lewisham’s libraries from closure submitted a petition with 20,000 signatures in protest at the proposed cuts in November when a decision on the future of the libraries was expected.  That decision has now been postponed until 17th February, and during the interim the council has welcomed bids by independent groups to take on the running of the library.

Baroness Mary Warnock said of the proposed closure: “Sydenham library is one of many under threat. It must be one of the most beautiful library buildings. In times of economic misery and unemployment we need more not less consolation from libraries, more access to newspapers, books and computers, more places to sit, research and make friends. It is barbarism to close it.”

Anthony Scully, Chair of the Save Sydenham Library campaign says: “We plan to make this event a celebration of the library we feel is a hub for our community.  At the end of the event we will be releasing 26 balloons each carrying a letter of the alphabet, to symbolise the centre of literature and culture that the library represents within our community.”

In response to the bids being made to the council for the future running of the library, Mr. Scully said: ‘We feel that the building and library service should remain in the ownership of the council.  We would be happy for independent groups to come in and contribute to the running of the library, but to shift the building or services from the control of the council risks the library’s future should anything happen to the group that takes over the ownership’

Campaigners are expecting a large turn-out for the read-in on Saturday 5th February at Sydenham Library, 210 Sydenham Road, London SE26 5SE

For further information please contact Louise Brooks on 07949 131819, or Cllr Liam Curran on 07850 714108.

5 thoughts on “Sydenham Library Campaign Update, Lewisham

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  5. colin davison

    All power to those trying to safeguard the future of Lewisham libraries. I used its local history centre during research for a biography of Ursula Moray Williams, author of children’s classics Gobbolino, the Little Wooden Horse etc, as her mother grew up in the district. Staff were most efficient and helpful. How much such a service must be valued by anyone with an interest in the heritage of the area.

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