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

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing. I have also attended few of their events and shows. They were much better than any other similar events in New York I attended off lately. Anyways, thanks for sharing this as I was not aware about it.