Culture, Media and Sport CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Friends of Waterloo Library

Summary

The Friends of Waterloo Library formed in 2004, and revived active input in 2011.

Friend’s events include activity sessions at the library, drop in sessions, a petition, and meetings with Councillor Peter Truesdale, and Kate Hoey MP.

Local support for Waterloo Library is significant, as demonstrated by over 300 signatures on the Save our Library petition in just one week.

Save our Library posters were willingly displayed by most of the shops along Lower Marsh.

Waterloo Library is used by residents, visitors, and workers, with over 40,000 visits per year.

Waterloo Library provides a range of books, newspapers, music, DVDs, and free internet and computer access.

Reading groups and toddler groups are among the activities taking place at Waterloo Library.

Waterloo is a diverse community, with high levels of deprivation, people from ethnic minority groups, and persons who are non-English speaking.

The closure of this community service would seriously deprive local families and children of access to the wide range of facilities currently available.

The Library is a warm and friendly meeting place for members of the community who would otherwise by socially isolated.

Links with the local primary school are well established and the Library offers support to children and teaching staff.

The Library is good for local businesses along Lower Marsh, the market street that is currently being regenerated.

Waterloo Library is vital to prevent further erosion of this small inner city community.

The Friends of Waterloo Library originally formed in 2004 to help raise awareness of the Lambeth Library Feasibility Study and in preparation for the anticipated imminent re-development of Waterloo Library. Unfortunately changes in Lambeth personnel and the direction of Lambeth Cultural Services saw a halt to the re-development of the library.

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.

January 2012

Prepared 5th November 2012