There were a tremendous number of places to visit in SE London alone during the London-wide Open House weekend in September ... one place we made sure to spend time in was the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill, endowed by the Scots-American industrialist (one of among 380 library buildings he wholly or partially financed in the UK). An inspired Open House Guide walked us by its many remarkable features - from the old librarian's quarters, the stained glass and Tudor-style windows, the skylights over what used to be the old librarian's desk ... the tiled floor mosaics ... to a gallery in a disused room featuring kids playing chess and Herne Hill photos by Max Rush! We even had a look at the back stacks -- which included a massive collection of vinyl destined (we were told) for the skips and leather-bound books galore! We were then served tea/coffee and biscuits!

The Carnegie, like all Lambeth libraries (with the exception of Brixton), are under threat unless ways can be found to save money and generate income to offset the £750,000 shortfall in the library service budget over the next two years.  This figure refers to the library service as a whole over the next two years - £300,000 by 2013 and £450,000 by 2014. A consultation exercise was under way, with questionnaires and submissions fed into the Commission meeting to discuss options and make recommendations to the Council. This, however ended on 30 September and was largely limited to in-library interaction as the online version had been discontinued.

If you value the Carnegie Library and feel it should be saved, contact the Friends of the Carnegie Library ASAP via email and ask what you can do at:

This space deserves to be saved. The building even offers shared tenancy options inside many un- or underused rooms on the upper floors and down in the cavernous basement section. The CL is more than flats!

To hear what Andrew Carnegie had to say about the responsibility of philanthropy back in 1914, click on the audioplayer below for partial explanation of his "Gospel of Wealth" theory. This also happens to be the cornerstone of his vast library philanthropy. It is his only known voice recording, a Higham Recording, done in the Bronx, NY on Edison Kinetophone cylinder. Thanks to James for getting it posted!