Forest Hill Library is part of the Lewisham network of community-run libraries. It is uniquely run by V22, an arts organisation; The Forest Hill Society; and, The Forest Hill Traders’ Association. The change-over from council-run to community-run has been remarkably smooth, and thanks to the dedication of the management board and a wonderful set of enthusiastic hard-working volunteers, we have been able to extend the opening hours, replace some ageing IT equipment (with the help of Alleyn’s Schools and Eco Communities), and keep all the usual library functions open, with the sole exception of the film club – one of the things the Leaf and Groove aims to address with its function room.
Visitor numbers to the library have actually increased since the community took hold, a rare statistic in a world where funding for, and use of, public libraries are declining hand in hand. However there is still an annual short-fall in funding for Forest Hill Library – a grade two listed building that needs to be maintained, with bills that need to be paid. Volunteers can man the library during the day, but money still needs to be found to pay for the upkeep of the building and grounds, the IT equipment, stationery, cleaning and cleaning supplies, electricity, gas, high speed internet & phone lines, furniture, TV licence, rates… the list goes on and on and there is a shortfall that needs to be found every year. Hopefully Leaf & Groove will be able to plug the gap and provide additional funds for an even better library.