The occupation of Carnegie Library has ended after 10 days.
The protest, which began on Thursday 31st March, officially came to an end on Saturday (9th April) after the occupiers left the building in London's Herne Hill to a crowd of cheering people.
Around 2,000 supporters held a demonstration to protest the plans by Lambeth Council to turn the library into a “healthy living centre” run by social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited.
The protest group, lead by chair of the Library Campaign, Laura Swaffield, has now claimed the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is set to investigate Lambeth library closures. A DCMS spokesperson is yet to confirm this to The Bookseller, however.
In a statement, the occupiers, totalling around 30 people, said: “We are coming out today stronger than we went in, just as resolute and with much more support. By coming out today, we can march together. We may be leaving the library today, but our campaign continues.”
They thanked their supporters and said Lambeth Council was “under far greater pressure then they have felt before” thanks to the high profile nature of the occupation, which attracted widespread media coverage.
“We hope that we’ve shown that through the actions of ordinary people its possible to challenge these decisions that take services away from all of us,” the occupiers said. “Privatisation and cuts can be resisted and it is possible to win…The world knows now that there is no future for the absurd plan for gyms in these libraries. We leave the library today with the intention that we will all be returning back through the doors; when Carnegie Library is reopened, Minet Library is reopened and the future of Waterloo and Upper Norwood libraries are secured.”
The occupiers had been served with a court possession order against them, sought by Lambeth Council.
Writers including David Mitchell, Ali Smith, Cathy Cassidy, Nick Hornby and David Nicholls were among the top names who had signed an open letter supporting the occupiers of Carnegie Library and condemning the proposed changes to the Lambeth library service.
The Carnegie library occupiers have claimed the DCMS is now investigating the Lambeth library closures, made by the Labour-run council. The department has a legal duty to intervene if a council is failing to provide a 'comprehensive and efficient' library service under the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964.
Pictures: Mike Urban/brixtonbuzz.com