Hove Library looks to coffee shop and room rentals to plug budget gap

Posted On 13 Jan 2017 at 11:41 pm

Hove Library could house a coffee shop and offer space to music students as part of a plan to generate more income in the next few years.

The building, also known as the Carnegie Library, in Church Road, Hove, was slated for closure last year for the second time in recent years until campaigners persuaded politicians to rethink their plans.

They set up a working group and yesterday (Thursday 12 January) some of their ideas were shared with councillors.

They include renting part of the first floor to students from the BIMM music school and possibly hiring out the basement for office space or to a nursery.

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Councillor Alan Robins spoke about the latest plans at the Brighton and Hove City Council Economic Development and Culture Committee meeting at Hove Town Hall yesterday.

Councillor Robins said: “Hove Library is a much-loved building but is expensive to run. The age and design of the building means it will need more investment to maintain it in future.

“To keep providing modern library services to communities, the council is exploring how to generate more income to help cover the costs of Hove Library.

Councillor Alan Robins

Councillor Alan Robins

“So far, ideas include leasing a small part of the building to the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM), on the first floor, as a new base for library provision for their students.

“The library could also host a café with a community focus in the ground floor open space area while they are also looking at the possibility of hiring out the basement as new office space or a nursery.

“All of the ideas proposed have been developed to make sure that existing Hove library users can still enjoy the same access and services they want while widening the use of the building to the local community and pulling in the extra income needed help meet the rising costs.

“The council is now looking at what demand in the market there is for using Hove Library, what works are needed to the building to accommodate any commercial use, as well as what the Hove library users think of the ideas.”

The committee agreed a set of fees and charges for the coming year which are intended to raise an extra £46,700.

A report to councillors said: “All the increases in fees and charges proposed will bring our overall income targets for next year to a total of just over £478,000.”

Christopher Hawtree

Christopher Hawtree

Today the council said: “Brighton and Hove City Council needs to reduce its costs by £51 million over the next three years.

“Of this, library services will need to make a contribution to these savings, estimated at over half a million pounds.”

Councillor Robins also responded to a deputation by the former Green councillor and library campaigner Christopher Hawtree.

Mr Hawtree said that the standard of fiction stocked at Hove Library had fallen although Councillor Robins denied this and defended the decision to stock popular titles.

Mr Hawtree also said that “books should be … the vital beating heart of our libraries”. Councillor Robins agreed and added that 20 per cent of stock was selected locally and anyone can recommend a book be bought.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    There is a piece – “Shrinking the Carnegie” – at the link below.

    One should point out that we are told the Carnegie “is expensive to run” but no figures are provided for Labour’s repeated assertion – and, indeed (alas), the figure is now much lower as so many members of staff have been, shall we say, let go.


  2. Lucy Reply

    I support any effort to protect this fantastic space. I feel similarly about Hove museum which I was recently advised is considering shutting its cafe!This would affect the museum experience as the cafe there is another excellent service. Really hope the yearly threats of closure/amendment would stop.

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