When Barnet Council decided to close down Friern Barnet Library it sparked wide spread concern. A lively campaign to save the library brought together people in the community because it was one of the last free spaces in the area, and a well used one at that, used for regular meetings with the police and local councillors as well as reading groups, knitting groups and the usual books, computers and newspapers.
On April 5th the library was closed and campaigners decided not to take that decision lying down. Today we saw the first “pop-up library” outside the closed building, where local people donated books, cakes, teas and all sorts, all of it available to loan for free.
One volunteer, Frances Hewson, said “this is the last community space in the area. There’s several schools in the area and all the kids use the library. They’ve sold the town hall and now the nearest library is North Finchley, and that’s being closed too! This is one of the poorer parts of the borough, people don’t have the same access to transport and it is difficult to go further afield.”
Joanne Fryer, the Secretary of the Save Friern Barnet Library campaign told Big Smoke that one of the most frustrating things was the way that the council had dealt with those who wanted to keep the library open. “We need to get rid of this wretched cabinet system. We can’t have ten people making all the decisions. We want a more representative democracy.”
Roger Tichborne, aka the Barnet Eye blogger, came up with the idea for a pop up library as a positive way to deal with the council’s decision to close the library. “It beats people rioting in the streets and it costs nothing. Well, it cost me a box of lollipops! We’re going to be here every Saturday and I’m going to ask councillor Rams if we can use the library next week, but even if we can’t we’ll be back.”
Referring to the local London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden he said “Brian Coleman said he wants to end the something for nothing culture. I want to encourage it.”