Why Did You and Stella Duffy Get 220 Writers to Sign a Letter about Lambeth Libraries?

Because we were asked to by the good people currently occupying Carnegie Library.

Because we love libraries generally but we also specifically love our local libraries, in Lambeth, London. We want all ten of them to stay open as libraries, with librarians, not gyms, without librarians.

And because this is something we could do. We’re writers, so we write; sometimes stories for amusement, sometimes letters for a purpose.

(For my longer answer to why? see libraries are anything but a luxury.)


Why are the libraries in Lambeth are so important?


Lambeth’s libraries are about so much more than books. People here use them really passionately – for access to the internet, as quiet and safe spaces to study, to get basic information they need about their legal rights. They’re busy and incredibly well-loved places. And trained librarians are essential to that – they make the spaces work.


It may sound old-fashioned, but libraries help people improve themselves. And I’m including myself in that self-improvement. I wrote a monthly comic for DC comics in America last year, and it was raiding Brixton library’s well-stocked shelves of graphic novels helped me learn how to do that.


If libraries are closed, it’s like society is slamming its doors in a whole lot of people’s faces. Essentially, you’re telling them, ‘Go away and don’t come back.’ But those people aren’t going away, and they will come back.


Why you believe the council’s proposal shouldn’t go through? 


I realize that the cuts have come down to Lambeth from government level, and Lambeth Council has been doing its best not to pass them on. However, once these libraries go, they’re never going to come back. Turning them into gyms seems to me bizarrely misguided and extremely insulting. Gyms are not what Lambeth needs.


Closing libraries is a false economy – you think you’ll make a saving, but you’re messing up society in a way that’s going to end up costing a lot more money.


For more, follow the hashtag #carnegieoccupation on twitter.


Updates 8.4.2016:

The Bookseller has covered the letter. And printed the full text and list of signatories.

As has the Guardian.

Brief article I wrote for the Guardian.

The Evening Standard reports.



One thought on “Why Did You and Stella Duffy Get 220 Writers to Sign a Letter about Lambeth Libraries?

  1. About 7-8 years ago I started going to the Brixton library reading group on and off for about 2 years (unfortunately not the month they read Hospital).
    Although that particular library isn’t under threat I am saddened by the state of Lambeth libraries as they really provide a lot for the community.

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