Supporters of New Cross library have claimed the council is demanding £24,000 in annual rent to reopen the library.
It is due to reopen tomorrow (13th August) as New Cross People's Library, in a trial venture run by local people. However, supporters say the council is demanding the annual rent payment to make the people's library a permanent arrangement.
New Cross is one of five Lewisham libraries which closed or transferred from council control at the end of May, despite a vigorous local protest campaign. Such was the strength of feeling among local people that the council shut New Cross library 24 hours ahead of the advertised date.
Volunteers, joining forces with an established community group Bold Vision, are now negotiating with the council to run the library themselves and will operate the trial scheme until September, with limited opening hours.
Gill Hart, chair of the New Cross People's Library group, said: "We have a pool of at least fifty volunteers as well as substantial backing from the local community and plan to open three or more days a week with one late night. As well as a library service, we aim to run workshops and courses for both children and adults, from local history to IT training."
Writing on the New Cross Community Council Facebook page, fellow campaigner James Holland acknowledged concerns that the venture might not be sustainable, but said: "It is my opinion that we can provide something that is different [from the previous library], in some ways inferior (although in other ways much better). We would all prefer a proper library with properly trained and paid librarians, but the council took that away from us, leaving us to try and build back up to that position sometime in the future, and you have to start somewhere."