Li­brary lives on – but only just

The Observer - - COMMENT -

Your re­view of Andy and Peter Holden’s Nat­u­ral Se­lec­tion ex­hi­bi­tion (“Birds do it…”, New Re­view, last week) talks of the “for­mer New­ing­ton Li­brary” but the li­brary still ex­ists, housed in a me­tal con­tainer above a col­lec­tion of take­aways rather than in the dis­tin­guished build­ing pur­pose­built for it 125 years ago.

Four years ago, a fire started in the neigh­bour­ing Cum­ing Mu­seum and it and the li­brary have been closed since. South­wark coun­cil said it would cost £40m to make safe and yet a pri­vate art academy did so for £30,000. In con­sul­ta­tion, res­i­dents asked for a li­brary – in­stead, they got this. Ad­mirable as I’m sure the ex­hi­bi­tion is, it is un­der the shadow of the wider gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of the Ele­phant. Did the coun­cil de­lib­er­ately come up with an un­work­able fig­ure? It has a good record on li­braries. Clar­ity would be wel­come. Toby Brundin Lon­don SE17

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