The New Addington library has been relocated to a space that was previously used as an adult learning and training centre.
The library has been moved from its previous location to offer a more modern and attractive space to visitors in what was known as the CALAT (Centre for Adult Learning and Training) building.
Previously, the Croydon Council had carried out a survey to better understand the expectations of the public regarding the library.
The new library facility is now spread over two floors. The ground floor accomodates an IT space with about ten computers and a space dedicated to kids. The second floor houses a reading area with several sections.
Jane Copper, supervisor of the library said : “We have the same number of books but we have refreshed the collection with new editions and the library is also brighter and better organised. We also run the same activities as before.”
“The most important thing for me is it that this library is much more spacious and even has a space to sit and have coffee. I also really appreciate the fact that the reading space is now separated from the children’s space. I can focus much better” explained David Majaro, 56, a regular visitor living in New Addington.
On the other hand, members of the Save the Croydon Libraries campaign are not entirely convinced by these apparent advantages.
Elizabeth Ash, a member of the campaign, said : “The new location of the library actually reduces the amount of space available to the CALAT programme”.
She also argued that running costs played a significant role in influencing this move. “Allocating many different services in one building makes it cheaper for the Council to manage these operations. This decision therefore doesn’t seem to be taken with the community’s best interests in mind.”
This is in keeping with the campaign’s longstanding, previously expressed views criticising the Council’s effort to privatise library management in the borough.
Recent developments in the tendering process for this library contract has also been the centre of much debate. The Council has attempted to privatise the running of the libraries to reduce costs which would allow it to proceed without closing any existing libraries. The opposition though, is of the opinion that this places public interests second to business sense.