Meet the people who want to usher in a brave new world for Lewisham’s libraries - a church, charity, computer-recycling company and a sports group aiming to “redefine the library”.

Four groups aiming to run some of the borough’s libraries after the council ditched them to cut costs have been making their case.

Library users came to Lewisham Town Hall’s civic suite yesterday (Apr 12) to see presentations and question a variety of groups.

Libraries at Crofton Park, Grove Park, Sydenham and New Cross are all up for grabs, with a final decision to be made at a Mayor and Cabinet meeting next month.

The Blackheath library building will also be taken out of council control, but the local authority does not own the building.

We Think

Who Led by Lewisham Community Sports not-for-profit group and brainchild of businessman Toby Chambers

Which libraries All four

Presentation Ideas for book displays, information sheets, computer presentation.

Staff At least three full-time staff along with volunteers.

Funding Initial use of £236,000 from council with more funding from paid for sessions.

What Aimed at attracting younger users with paid for sessions of dancing, writing, birthday parties, and other activities. Libraries rebranded as “literary learning centres”, use of furniture made by local people.

Books Halved with the possibility of an increase later. Books facing outwards so you can see the covers.

They say Mr Chambers said: “There’ll be books there and computers. But it’s about redefining what a library’s role in society is going to be.

“We’re saying less is more - less books but more quality.”

Eco Computer Systems

News Shopper: Darren Taylor from Eco Computer Systems

Who Computer recycling firm already running a library at Pepys Resource Centre in Deptford.

Which libraries All four

Presentation Outline floor plans for each library, leaflets on current work including the Pepys centre.

Staff A library manager plus volunteers.

Funding From computer recycling, book recycling business, sponsorship from housing associations.

What Open six days a week, coffee shop, help with setting up own businesses, IT training, spaces for Opening Doors service and Sydenham Community Radio.

Books Could see a “small” cut of 5,000.

They say Boss Darren Taylor said: “This is just about giving people somewhere to sit, relax and read a book.

“Residents have been on our steering groups and we’ve held consultation meetings and open days.


Who Part of the New Testament Church of God

Which libraries Sydenham

Presentation Omega turned up with just a laptop computer as one of their representatives had not arrived on time.

Staff “We’re not aware of the detailed arrangements for staff”.

Funding Mainly from grants for the add-on services.

What Omega promises no overt religious aspect to the library but using it to promote “good works”, offering mentoring, back to work training and music.

Books Same amount of books. Increased opening hours.

They say Project manager Ify Obu said: “We aim to get into the community to make a positive impact. If you look at what’s going on in Sydenham now there’s killings, stabbings and a lot of teenage pregnancies, things like that.”

Family Services UK

News Shopper: Family Services UK

Who Charity based in Deptford, already working with Catford library

Which libraries New Cross

Presentation Literature on the charity’s work

Staff A council-paid qualified librarian plus volunteers.

Funding Looking at other funds alongside main streams from Lottery and the Capital Community Foundation.

What The library would become a new base for the charity, which offers therapy to poorer communities. Also offering music and other activities.

Books Same amount

They say Mental health therapist Tania Christoffelsz said: “The library is like a missing piece of the puzzle for us. Staff will work in partnership with our services.”