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Historic Manor House in Lewisham will reopen as a Community Library

Historic Manor House in Lewisham will reopen in April as a Community Library after successful tender from V22 Foundation.

V22 is delighted to have been successful in the tender process to become the new custodian of Manor House in Lee, South London. They recognise that this is an important civic building for Lewisham, not only architecturally and historically, but also as a cornerstone for the local community. Manor House will be reopened as a community library, with emphasis placed upon continuing to serve the local area while careful consideration is given to the needs of local residents, families and groups.

Many libraries have been closed or depleted across the country amid devastating cuts in previous years. V22 wishes to return the library at Manor House to a full service and to build on many of the services previously offered, including events for children, facilities for jobseekers and activities for pensioners, as well as to renew the IT infrastructure and introduce digital literacy workshops.

As per their tender submission, they are keen to engage with a wide variety of community groups to ensure their ongoing involvement in the future of the building and grounds. The Grade II* listed Manor House has undergone extensive renovations in recent years and local community groups have fought tirelessly to keep the library and building open. V22 welcomes the opportunity to work with them and has partnered with local resident Simon Higgs, in its tender, with a view to Simon becoming the building’s General Manager. It is six months to the day since V22 (leading a consortium of local groups) re-opened Forest Hill Library at the other end of the borough and Simon was charged with leading what is believed to have been a remarkably successful transition to a community library -  now open for longer hours, with more books and new IT throughout.

V22 Foundation, the not for profit arm of the V22 art organisation, has plans for the library and building, to include:

  • extending the current range of library books
  • to work closely with local schools and educational specialists such as the Philosophy Foundation and Wide Horizons to bring events and workshops into the building and integrate those with the  fantastic surroundings of Manor House Gardens
  • to work with the full range of local community groups and active citizens, as well as Lewisham Library and Information Service, to make this a successful community library
  • full employment of the numerous rooms around the building that have been underutilised in recent years. Keeping existing functions wherever possible and adding new services, workshops and groups inspired by residents, users and tenants
  • a greater degree of ‘joined up thinking’ with Manor House Gardens, especially when events are going on in the park
  • a dedicated Manor House Library web site and newsletter to communicate more effectively with local residents
  • replacement of out-moded IT hardware and software to be of better use to jobseekers, students and schoolchildren and all other users alike.

 

The library at Manor House will be staffed by volunteers, who will be trained jointly by V22 management and Lewisham council library staff. The initiative is being kick-started by a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money to replace outdated existing IT equipment with a new bank of computers running the latest software. The London Borough of Lewisham’s library service will continue to provide advice, training and access to books from its own collections and the London Libraries Consortium. Under-utilised spaces upstairs will be let as studios, offices and deskspace to generate income for the building, providing opportunities for local creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs.