A candlelight vigil to mourn the passing of the Carnegie Library by campaigners and residents last night turned into an occupation of the building, just moments before it was due to shut its doors for the last time.
A spokesperson for the stay-in protesters said “This is not Lambeth Council’s library to close after 110 years, it belongs to the locality.
“We are staying here to publicise just what Lambeth’s Labour council is doing to our local libraries – ripping the heart out of them to turn them into unwanted gyms.”
Protesters have already festooned the Carnegie library with posters and banners and aim to turn the user controlled Carnegie library into a beacon of resistance to library cuts and closures across Lambeth and the country.
The Grade 2-listed Carnegie Library in Herne Hill is being shut by Lambeth Council, and large parts of building will be repurposed as a gym.
Meanwhile Minet Library near Myatt’s Fields will close today, with similar plans for gym conversion in the pipeline.
Further closures are planned for Waterloo and Upper Norwood libraries in the coming months.
All of the libraries affected will retain a small number of books, but will not employ library staff.
The plans, part of Lambeth Council’s Culture 20/20 project, have met resolute opposition across the local community, with local celebs Jay Rayner and Will Self recently lending their support to campaigns.
Chair of the Friends of Carnegie Library, Jeff Doorn, said: “Far from this vigil marking the end of the campaign to keep the library open, we intend to step up the fight to reopen this and other libraries closed by the council.”