Closing library wins cash to aid those most in need

Unison members striking against library closures outside Brixton's Tate library (which is to remain open)
Unison members striking against library closures outside Brixton’s Tate library (which is to remain open) yesterday

Lambeth council’s Carnegie library in Herne Hill – due to close on 1 April – has been awarded a share of £60,000 to help fund IT and coding courses for people in the area who are “most in need of employability skills”.

The Carnegie, along with the Minet library in Myatt’s Fields, is to become a “healthy living centre” run by the council leisure provider GLL.

The library is one of six winners to receive funding of between £5,000 and £15,000 to develop a project as part of the Carnegie UK Trust’s Library Lab initiative which supports innovation and leadership in the public library sector.

The trust said Caroline Mackie, manager of the Carnegie library, would lead the project for people in the borough’s Coldharbour ward and, as part of the Library Lab initiative, would also have access to a new online learning programme developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“She will also be provided with a mentor and be given the opportunity to take part in networking and learning events,” said the trust.

A trust spokesperson said that it was aware that the Carnegie library was due to close but expected that space would be available in other Lambeth libraries.

The council plan means libraries like Brixton Tate library, designated as “town centre” libraries will continue to operate as normal.

Caroline Mackie, who recently won a Lambeth council award, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received funding from the Trust.

“Our project plays to libraries’ strengths in facilitating learning and being open to all . Working with Kings College London we will be able to provide a range of skills to those taking part in the courses that we wouldn’t have been able to do ourselves.

“We are looking forward to working with the community and hope the courses help inspire change in their lives.”

She said that the workshops would take place in other Lambeth libraries. Exactly which ones is still to be confirmed.

Martyn Evans, chief executive of the Carnegie UK Trust said: “Libraries make a major contribution to our wellbeing and are essential sources for learning and information at the heart of our communities. These are challenging times for libraries and innovation and leadership are vital to their continued success.

“The winning Library Lab projects demonstrate the creative ways that library spaces can be utilised and services developed. We are delighted to be working with these projects and we wish Hill Herne Library the best of luck in taking their project forward.”

Nick Poole, CEO of Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Practitioners (CILIP), said: “I was delighted to be able to support the Lambeth library team’s proposal for funding from the Carnegie UK Trust’s Library Lab as part of the assessment panel.

“My fellow judges and I were impressed with Caroline’s application and the library’s partnership with King College London, which opens up new opportunities to help library users develop digital skills.

“Part of the purpose of the fund is to identify and support library leaders of the future, and Caroline absolutely fits the bill.”

The Carnegie Trust received over 70 applications from library staff looking for support for innovative projects. Winning applicants were selected by experts including representatives from the Carnegie UK Trust, the Society of Chief Librarians, CILIP and Arts Council England.

The Carnegie UK Trust was established in 1913 by Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie.  It seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing of people in the UK and Republic of Ireland through influencing public policy and demonstrating innovative practice.


  1. Just the first of the many, many free activities that will be forced out of the four library buildings that are being mostly made over to activities you’ll have to pay for – including the daft, unwanted GLL gyms.
    The six libraries that Lambeth deigns to spare are already bursting at the seams. With the best will in the world, they’ll never squeeze in the hundreds of people thrown out of their local library – even if they can make the trek.

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