Chairman’s Report 2016



Chairman’s report 2015-16

Friends’ Committee. The committee for 2015-16 consisted of Priscilla Baines (chairman), Kay Coombs (secretary), Jeremy Orme (treasurer), Val Parker (membership secretary), Elizabeth Barrott, Ruth Briant, Veronica Ledwith, Laura Swaffield (until November 2015), David Tisdall and Lucy Wells (until summer 2015). The committee met 8 times during the year.

Membership. At the end of the year the Friends had 203 members compared with 168 the year before. Both years’ totals include our honorary life member. 147 renewed their membership for 2015-16 and 56 new members joined, although 37 did not renew. We issued four members’ Newsletters during the year. We now circulate the newsletter by e-mail wherever possible and continue to build up our members’ e-mail address list to reduce hard copy deliveries. We also circulate news of each monthly event by email to ensure wider publicity, as well as special news of interest.

Activities. Our monthly talks have continued as usual with mainly local speakers and generally good attendances, plus two parties. Our thanks go to our speakers, to Veronica Ledwith for another successful programme, to Tim O’Dell, Lambeth’s Reader Development Officer, and Jon Newman of Lambeth Archives, for help with providing speakers, and to Sylvia Goodman and the food teams for the excellent and much appreciated food. Thanks also to Gordon and Jill Johnston for continuing to run the bar, to Margaret Clinch for so generously and unfailingly providing flowers for each meeting, and to Frank Bornemann for operating the sound system and wrestling with presentations at our talks. Our thanks also to Val Parker who now manages our address labels and membership lists, and to Elizabeth Barrott and Ruth Briant, the newsletter editors.

Website. We are maintaining our website and continue to urge everyone to use it. Thanks to Kay Coombs for keeping it up to date and Naomi Klein for continuing to act as mentor/backstop.

Lambeth libraries and the Culture 2020 proposals. There were unforeseen delays in completing the options appraisal mentioned last year and the consultations on Lambeth’s Cultural Services by 2020 proposals ended in April 2015. Those proposals, which again threatened the future of the Durning and Lambeth’s other smaller libraries, were widely opposed. Between April and October, Lambeth said nothing about the outcome of the consultations but in October a further report, Culture 2020, was approved by the Cabinet and announced further consultations about whether the Durning, Lambeth’s preferred choice, or Tate South Lambeth should become the interim ‘town centre library’ for north Lambeth, pending a possible new library in the area by 2022. Those consultations duly happened: we heard in early March the good news that Lambeth had decided that both the Durning and Tate South Lambeth should stay open for the time being as ‘town centre libraries’ for north Lambeth, probably with reduced opening hours, while plans for a new library would be pursued.

Proposals for handing over two library buildings (Carnegie and the Minet) to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) to become healthy living centres with unstaffed lounges with small collections of books are to go ahead; Waterloo library is to move to the Oasis Centre but will be unstaffed. The proposals by the head of the library service, Susanna Barnes, for a staff/community mutual trust to run all ten libraries, have been rejected on the grounds that they were insufficiently robust and could not be implemented within the council’s timescale. The Friends of Lambeth Libraries have led the challenges to the various council proposals; the Durning Friends have generally supported the campaign but have had to recognise that, for the Durning, to become a town centre library, as Lambeth proposed, offered a better future than any of the other options being considered.

Friends of Lambeth Libraries (FoLL). Laura Swaffield has continued to chair FoLL and lead the campaign to save Lambeth’s smaller libraries. We are, as always, very grateful for her commitment to the libraries’ cause and campaigning skills, needed during the past year as never before.

On behalf of the committee, our thanks once more to our members for their support throughout the year. That has continued to confirm how highly the library is valued. I would also like to thank my fellow committee members for their hard work and contributions to the collective effort; without them none of our activities would happen. We continue to be very grateful for the support of the Durning staff and to those Lambeth officials with whom we work so closely.
Priscilla Baines
March 2016