Usually mid-week online discussions among my writing group are about who’s coming to the next meeting, who has something to read, and (most importantly) who’s coming to the pub afterwards.
This week, the flurry of e-mails was about Kensal Rise Library. After more than a year of trying to reason with Brent Council, activists have put together a last ditch proposal to save the library from closure by running it entirely financially independently. They need 70,000 pounds by tomorrow, Friday 7th September, and they have very nearly reached their target.
As a group, we’ve decided to donate a good chunk of group funds. Kensal Rise is not quite our local library, but since the one we meet in is also in Brent and is threatened with closure, you could call it an investment.
An investment in community, in learning, in literacy and literature, in enjoyment, in public space and resources, in sharing, in civic participation and pride.
All the things this government, abetted by local councils, is determined to take away from us.
Since I last blogged about Brent libraries, one of the two I wrote about has already been closed. It, like Kensal Rise library, was paid for by the community in taxes and donations, to be held in perpetuity for its free enjoyment. Kensal Rise Library was deemed important enough for Mark Twain to be invited to the opening ceremony. Brent council’s ‘closing ceremony’ took place in the early hours of the morning, with police guarding the council workers who stripped all the books and fittings, so that the school kids who had been defending it for weeks wouldn’t be there.
Despicable is the word that comes to mind.
If you can, please support the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign (and if you need a much more eloquent reason why, read Zadie Smith's essay). Kensal Rise is only one of many, but if this proposal succeeds then maybe other councils will think twice about their short-sighted and destructive actions, and realise they must listen to all those communities who are working so fantastically hard to save their libraries. Once they're gone, we will never get them back.