New book and vinyl shop opened to fund Forest Hill community library

Simon Higgs. Pic: Holly Pyne

A new book and vinyl shop has opened in Forest Hill  to raise money for the local community library.

Leaf & Groove, a second-hand book and vinyl shop is the latest addition to Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill and though the shop is independent from Forest Hill community library, all profits will go towards maintaining the library, which became independent from Lewisham Council more than a year ago.

Simon Higgs, the proprietor, told EastLondonLines: “We wanted to make sure that we could keep the library open seven days a week so that people can come whenever they need to – they know we’re always open. The shop helps us cover the everyday costs of running the library. We also had an opportunity to turn the abandoned space that was here before into something positive.”

Leaf & Groove. Pic: Holly Pyne

The shop has filled a space that had been empty for eight years before Leaf & Groove and had caused an eyesore on the road. Leaf & Groove have been fundraising through Spacehive, a crowdfunding website specifically for local projects, and raised £19,792 through the site alone.

Forest Hill library became a community library in October 2016 and is now run by V22, an arts organisation, The Forest Hill Society and The Forest Hill Traders’ Association. Two other libraries, Manor House and Torridon Road, were also changed to community-run at the same time.

Lewisham now has nine community libraries and only four public libraries in the borough, which are in Lewisham, Catford, Deptford and Downham.

Leaf & Groove. Pic: Holly Pyne

The Forest Hill library has continued to do well since becoming community-run and saw an 11 per cent increase in monthly visitors between January and March this year alone. The total number of monthly visitors for the year 2016/17 was also high at 131,799 visitors, making it the third most visited community library in the borough.

Forest Hill community library also had high numbers of readers for the Summer Reading Challenge this year. The challenge takes place every year and to complete it, children must read six library books during their summer holidays, one a week.

The library had the second highest number of children starting the challenge and the third highest number of children finishing it of all the libraries in Lewisham.

Higgs the community spirit in Forest Hill important: “People have really got behind the library since it became community-run, and now the shop. There is definitely a strong community spirit in Forest Hill which is unique.

“We’ve had an interesting first week of being open, with snow and roadworks right outside the shop but it has been great and we’ve made nearly £1000 already.”

Leaf & Groove can be found at 57 Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3HN.

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