Monday, 25 May 2015

The Library Debate


On 21st May at Friern Barnet Community Library we held the Library Debate, with myself as Chair and a panel of Laura Swaffield, Chair of The Library Campaign, the local activists Barbara Jacobson, Polly Napper and Alasdair Hill, and Adam Tipple, a former librarian with Barnet.
Alasdair, Polly, Keith, Laura, Barbara, Adam
Holding the debate in a library which had been closed by the council in 2012 and reopened by occupants to be run by volunteers for the community is evidence that direct action can bring results.

The debate ranged from why libraries are necessary, who needs them, how should they be run, to the question of whether history suggests any lessons?

Should libraries in the future cater for the increase in Barnet’s population?

Should Citizens’ Advice Bureaux be given a home there?

Laura loves the feel of our library. Polly, who works in the production department of the publishers, Bloomsbury, joined the continuing stream of well-wishers who offer to donate new books to us. 

The mood of the panellists and the floor was for action. Alasdair emphasised the common interest of all political parties in the future of libraries. Conservative aspirations for commerce as much as all other parties aspiring to Barnet Council’s own dictum of Putting the Community First. Unity is strength, and this will be the message on the fifth March for Libraries on Saturday 12 September. There will be speakers, a red London bus and a marching brass band. But before that, Unison has called for strike action, 1st and 2nd June - if you support our librarians and want to get involved, you can find out more information here

The legacy of Friern Barnet Library, the library that refused to close, is shown by the article in Le Monde about privatisation in Barnet on General Election day 7th May, with a half-page photo of the blizzard on the Spring March in 2013 with the library squatters Tiffany, her boyfriend and placards saying KEEP BARNET PUBLIC. It is this image which will remain our legacy to Europe long after Barnet Council’s philistine policies are dead and forgotten.

Keith Martin
22 May 2015

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Stop Press: Zombie Book Bug hits Finchley

Finchley Literary Festival organisers and participants have been struck down with a deadly virus known as the Zombie Book Bug. Symtoms include lurching into book shops, moaning, groaning and buying unusual books.

Supporting libraries as their theme this year, the festival kicks off this afternoon at Church End Library, Finchley Central at 1.00pm with local blogger Theresa Musgrove who will be talking about her forthcoming book: The Hand that Smoothes the Pillow: Mary Ann Cotton – the Life and Times of a Victorian Serial Killer.

Theresa Musgrove is a writer and local campaigner better known for her blog 'Broken Barnet', which she writes via the medium of the infamous Mrs Angry, who is currently in a Swiss sanatorium, trying to regain her composure after the outcome of the general election. 

We asked Theresa, when she first realised she had caught the Zombie Book Bug? Mrs Angry replied:

"I must tell you I HATE zombie things, and horror, in lit or films. I do like books, and reading, clearly: and if I can write at all it is because I was such a voracious reader as a child, depending on my local library in Edgware for access to books, as we had few at home, and my appetite for reading was insatiable. My house is overflowing with piles of books, which I've started to stockpile even more for fear of there being no public libraries anywhere at all soon."

Later this evening, at one of the saved libraries of Barnet, Mike Carey will be at Friern Barnet Community Library, 7.00pm to talk about his book The Girl With All The Gifts. Rosie Canning, one of the organisers said: We're very lucky to have Mike this week as filming of the The Girl, has just started and I know Mike has been travelling a lot (probably infecting others with The BUG.)

When asked if the Zombie Book Bug had affected his quality of life, Mike replied:

"I think when the apocalypse arrives, we just have to hold fast to our core values and... ooh, is that a human brain? Do you mind if I...? It's just that I skipped breakfast..."

Find out more about Mike here.

Lindsay Bamfield, another festival organiser said: "We are delighted that Mike Carey, a British writer of comic books, novels, and films, will be taking part in this year's festival. If you've read the book you'll know that our local artsdepot is mentioned. Never mind that it features zombies in the same scene! Lindsay, who has embraced the Zombie Book Bug, borrows books from her local Finchley library regularly. She also works for the NHS and added, "We promised you zombies and we have a good NHS doctor on hand just in case."

As part of the Mike Carey evening, John Paul O'Malley is travelling north to Finchley, to interview 'The Man', at 8.00pm. JP used to live in Finchley but moved recently, presumably so he wouldn't catch the virus. We asked him what it was like interviewing people with the Zombie Book Bug?

"I feel privileged, honored and frightened to death simultaneously! I just hope all of those Zombies have eaten before they've come down to the interview tonight."

(JP *cough* *a-hem* ...who's going to tell him?)

Find out more about JP O' Malley here.

Festival organisers warn that if you attend any of the events there is the distinct possibility you could be bitten...infected by the Zombie Book Bug, enter at your own peril. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Last Minute Festival Jewels

Six stimulating workshops:

Allen Ashley leads a poetry workshop, Sun, Moon and Planets, at Friern Barnet Community Library on Thursday 21st May 12.00-2.00pm. Contact Allen to book on

Andi Michael facilitates a Writing for Wellbeing workshop at Friern Barnet Community Library on Friday 22nd May 6.00pm-8.00pm. This workshop is for beginners as well as more experienced writers.  Book here: Writing for Wellbeing.

Lindsay Bamfield gives a practical workshop on voice skills for writers who read their work aloud. Saturday 23rd May 10.30-12.30pm at North Finchley Library.  If you feel your vocal skills could be improved this is the workshop for you. Book here: Voice skills workshopFully booked - but please contact for future dates.

Katie Alford runs a workshop on fantasy writing at Church End Library Saturday 23rd May 10.30-12.30pm. If you have considered writing fantasy this is a good place to start. No charge. Bookings: email

Pearse and Black host an exciting creative writing workshop Murder in the Library on Saturday 23rd at North Finchley Library from 2.00-4.00pm. You may book directly using the link above. Please note: The only weapons you are allowed are pen and paper. (Or maybe a laptop/tablet.)

Rosie Canning leads The Walking Writer workshop. This is an informal session taking you on a gentle walk with stops to write inspired by nature. Short readings will also be given - after all who can pass the site of Spike Milligan's former home without a recitation? For more information  The Walking Writer The walk starts at 11.30am, Sunday 24th May. Meet at West Finchley tube station.

North Finchley Library, Ravensdale Avenue, London N12 9HP

Church End Library, 24 Hendon Lane, London N3 1TR

Friern Barnet Community Library, Friern Barnet Road, London N11 3DS

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Finchley Literary Slideshow

North Finchley Library, N12 9HP
Friday 22nd May at 6.00-7.30pm

Mr Greenacre shows you Finchley's secret green spaces with literary readings, some on the theme of nature and others by Finchley writers.

No charge.

No need to book but come early to secure a seat.

Mr Greenacre is a founder member of the Greenacre Project and was a regular contributor to The Greenacre Times writing the popular Mr Greenacres column as well as articles under his own name.

Mr G has charted and photographed every green space in the area and gives regular talks and slides shows as well as leading walks. For the festival he will be combining his knowledge of green spaces with literature and presenting a slide show with literary readings.