Alongside the Light of Learning torch relay marking 1 year since library closure PRESTON COMMUNITY LIBRARY will reopen at 235 Preston Road, with a marathon reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
We would like chidren to come and help us read Alice from start to finish.
Please let us know if your child would like to take part.
- 2pm: Formal Opening of the Reading and Lending Room at 235 Preston Road
- 5pm: Torch arrives outside Preston Library
- 6pm: Party at the Windermere Pub, Windermere Ave
PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT US – We have over 2,000 donated books. We will only have about 700-800 in the reading room at any one time.
The reading room will open on Sunday mornings from 10am until 1pm starting this Sunday 14th October. It will also open on Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 4.30pm starting 18th October.
PARKING IN PRESTON ROAD IS FREE ON A SUNDAY provided it is not an event day at the Stadium
The performance poets Tim Wells, Fran Isherwood and Chuquai Billy are pleased to appear as part of The Kilburn Comedy Festival. The evening is in support of Preston Library.
- Tim Wells is a poet who’s performed world-wide. He’s toured the U.S 12 times and been translated into many languages including Chinese. He is a regular guest poet on BBC Radio London and is writer-in-residence with Tighten Up .
- Fran Isherwood‘s poetry is a wry and playful gallop through the vagaries of life encountering mail-stealing snails, lollipop ladies, Glam Rock, insomnia and macabre part-time jobs en route.
- Chuquai Billy is a Native American performer from the Lakota Sioux/Choctaw Nations. His material is friendly, funny and (mostly) historically correct with observations on life on the native reservation, life in the UK versus the US and on current affairs.
They will be joined by other quick-fire poets and the audience can judge the winner.
Tickets: £8 (£5 Concessions/Friends of Preston Library) – Book on 07773951099 or on the door.
BRENT COUNCIL CONCEALS DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF LIBRARY CLOSURES
Brent SOS Libraries today reveals the true extent of the damage caused by the library closures in the London borough of Brent.
On Monday night, a “progress” report presented misleading and incorrect information on the so-called “Libraries Transformation Project” to the new Labour executive. Brent SOS Libraries responded with its May 2012 Brent SOS Libraries Report, which shows:
- There have been 167,004 fewer library visits since half of the borough’s libraries were closed in October compared with the same period year on year.
- 158,809 fewer books have been issued.
- Library visits and lending have fallen 20% will continue to fall with the imminent closure of Kilburn and demolition of Willesden Green libraries.
- This has been a net loss of 191 opening hours per week.
Most of the users of the closed libraries ARE NOT USING the remaining libraries, as the council claims. The report that went before the council on Monday failed to mention these key indicators and misrepresented a failing, wasteful service as a success.
A packed out Windermere nestled in the snow was the perfect setting for us to celebrate Charles Dicken’s 200th anniversary. Following the children’s storytelling day at Preston Park school, it rounded off a hugely successful National Libraries Day, despite yesterday’s bad news.
Readings from the man of letters and Whitbread Prize-winner Paul Bailey and music from the inimicable CLOS made it an night to remember. Let’s not forget the children – and yet more distinguished authors, like Leon Rosselson, Kaye Umansky (below), Daniel Kitts, Dyan Sheldon and Jenny Newland.
Brent has no plans to ever hold an event locally here. That ended when they closed our only portal to the council, and lied to us that they would make it up via “outreach”.
It appears between our Con-Dem government and Labour council, our library has suffered its terrible fate.
Boyd Tonkin of the Independent sums it up:
…the myopic idiocy of these false economies cuts straight across party lines. In spite of ferocious competition, from Cumbria to Dorset, I would argue that no local authority has behaved with quite such pig-headed arrogance in pursuit of the destruction of much-loved branches as Labour Brent.
Which makes it dismaying, if predictable, that the libraries initiative now launched by shadow arts minister Dan Jarvis contents itself with kneejerk Tory-bashing and fails to examine the mess on Labour’s own municipal shelves.
No wonder so many public-spirited people run a mile from party politics when they see that participation will mean having to check in both mind and heart at the committee-room door”
Willesden Green may well be the 7th library to close this year. Brent has long been planning to close it for 2 years to rebuild it. It’s a curious story, made curiouser by Labour councillors falling asleep and losing during an important vote on the issue.
Last year, when trying to justify closing 6 libraries, Willesden Green was cited as the successful library, against which ours was a failure:
Councillor James Powney (Kensal Green, Labour), said: “Willesden Green is our most successful library
Ann John reiterated this just a few months ago:
The truth about the closure of the six libraries is that they were the least popular and least visited libraries in the borough…In contrast, the most popular – Willesden Green library centre – had 508,599 visitors.
Now the line is:
The council says Willesden Green Library has struggled to fulfil potential and is poorly designed.
So which is it? For Brent, it’s both. For everyone else, it is the latter. WG is a failure. It not only costs more than all 6 libraries put together, it also fails to attract more users than all 6 put together.
And this is after those user figures have been artificially inflated by situating non-library services and staff offices inside the library, and then counting everyone together.
In other words, Willesden Green is much more expensive and far less efficient than Preston, yet it was our library that was closed. Permanently.
The fight is far from over. The hall was packed, reinvigorating all of us. Preston needs it’s Library and a fair deal from the council.
Philip Pullman has lambasted Brent council for its comment that closing half of its libraries would help it fulfil “exciting plans to improve libraries”, describing the statement as a “masterpiece” which “ought to be quoted in every anthology of political bullshit from here to eternity”.
“All the time, you see, the council had been longing to improve the library service, and the only thing standing in the way was – the libraries,”
said the His Dark Materials author, speaking at the national conference of library campaigners on Saturday.
Read the rest of Alison Flood’s article in the Guardian.
The people who thought it would be easy to deprive us of our last remaining service, who thought we don’t care enough, never expected their Wall of Shame would be transformed into our community message board, telling Ann John that we want our library back.
It’s half term, the weather was very nice today and we plan to stay put, collecting letters and signatures to demand the government intervenes – they will only do this if we bury them in letters and petitions. We are running a rota, so if you fancy volunteering an hour of your time this week, please let us know. There is food, chairs and plenty of friendly people to meet. It’s actually really good fun!
The Guardian (among others) writes:
A judge has fast-tracked an urgent hearing of an appeal against Brent council’s closure of six libraries.
Lord Justice Elias granted an appeal against a ruling made last week in the high court that Brent council’s decision was lawful. He ordered that attempts should be made for it to be heard before the court of appeal on two days early next month.
Brent council has agreed, in the meantime, to take no irrevocable steps to prevent the libraries reopening in the event of the appeal being won.
Campaigners have mounted vigils outside two of the threatened libraries, Preston Road, which has already been boarded up by the council, and Kensal Rise, to ensure they are not emptied of books or computers while the legal dispute continues.
The valiant campaigners who have braved the cold outside Preston night and day since Monday can breathe a small sigh of relief. You have made national news and we salute you.
The day the council came to cart away our books, a plucky band of Preston-ers were there to stop them…including:
Geraldine Cooke, a publisher just back from the Frankfurt Book Fair, stood close by, honking defiantly on a red horn
given to her in Germany by a US erotica publisher in a gesture of intellectual solidarity. Every now and then, her honks were answered by passing cars.
Cooke, who, along with her fellow campaigners, has been organising petitions and raising £30,000 for a legal fighting fund, said she had no plans to give up the battle. “I think we’ll do it for as long as it takes, even though we’re not many people down here,” she said, nodding at the seven other protesters. “There’s no doubting the passion of the people here.”
Volunteers urgently needed to keep an eye on the library – spare half an hour and keep watch through the day.
This morning valiant Preston locals stopped Brent Council removing books and equipment from the library – a step which could be considered irrevocable ahead of a planned appeal to be lodged this week. In other words, we need to stop anything else happening to our library, or it may be impossible to reverse even if we win an appeal.
…and we vowed to avenge our library. We must stop the council from removing books and furniture from OUR library.
At time of writing, Kensal Rise library remains ‘open’ as children and adults heroically prevented the council from boarding it up. It has been a 24 hour vigil. For LIVE updates click here.
Meanwhile, dozens Preston library users were aghast to find a huge wall as they came to…er… use the library after school. Clearly the council had prepared the closure in advance of the verdict.
Today we got our verdict on Round 1 of Brent residents v the Labour Council. Mr Justice Ousley today dismissed a judicial review brought by campaigners seeking to overturn Brent Council’s decision to close half of its public libraries.
The solicitor, John Halford of Bindmans LLP said:
“Today’s judgement means that half of Brent’s libraries remain under threat and has very troubling implications for library closure decisions nationally. That is why Ms Bailey, Ms Desoysa and Mr Lester will be pursing an appeal and the local campaign will renew its efforts to expose the senselessness of Brent’s decision. It cannot be right to decimate the library service of an inner London borough whose children are desperate to read and study but whose parents cannot afford books nor the transport costs of regular access to distant libraries. Nor is Brent right to say the threatened libraries are unnecessary to meet local needs. The passion and commitment of the community campaign to keep them open shows that is nonsense.” (full press release here)
We are not just a bunch of NIMBYs trying to save a defunct service, this is the biggest campaign Brent has seen in half a century – 10,000 + signatures, 82% opposition to the closure plan, including almost every school in the borough. We use our libraries, we value them, and we need them. Brent Council can easily afford to keep them open, and their loss means a decimated, two-tier library service that will fail residents.
Margaret Bailey, on behalf of Brent Libraries SOS campaign said:
As Brent Council slashes library services in half, telling people to “buy books in Tesco” and “get on a bus”, little do residents realise that of the 6 remaining libraries, only 3 are ‘fit for purpose’. Kilburn “needs major upgrade”, Willesden Green is set to be knocked down and rebuilt and funding is being sought for Kingsbury to be rebuilt/enlarged. That leaves just 3 usable libraries in Brent Council’s vision of a “21st century library service”.
Preston users have been told to go to Kingsbury, but this is clearly not big enough. So where will they go? The new £ 3 million mega-library our cash-strapped council found money for. How convenient. At least for the council. It’s too far for children, the elderly and disabled (who most use the existing library) , there’s no parking and rising public trasport fares make this ‘free’ service, not so free.
Our judicial review – the first in the UK – took place in July and the wait for a verdict is almost over. This Thursday 13th October at 10 am at the High Court (Strand), we will find out just what Mr Justice Ousely has to say about library closures in Brent in a ruling that could affect local councils across the country.
Another example of Brent Council wasting our money – read the article in here.
Campaigners have almost reached the target £30,000 to fund the legal action against the closure of 50% of Brent’s libraries. It would cost just £1m to keep them all open, and a reduction of hours across the board would achieve the same savings (according to the council’s own figures) – yet the Council ignored massive opposition from residents and ploughed ahead with the cuts.
First they claimed it was financially necessary, but under fire for spending a whopping £3m on a new mega-library as part of a £100 million Civic Centre project (at a time of deep recession), they switched to arguing that the cuts would improve library services! Nobody seems sure how losing local libraries in communities that clearly value them is an improvement. These are libraries that are far from under-performing: Preston Library is one of the most efficient and highest usage library in the borough.
Boyd Tonkin’s feature in today really tells it like it is:
Talk to activists about library closures, and even those most upset by the cuts will often accept that local authorities have to make tough choices in taxing times. Sometimes they merely question the direction of the axe, as the year-on-year squeeze enforced by Whitehall leaves councils no option but to reduce expenditure.
However, what if another explanation applied: that some benighted councils actually dislike libraries, distrust their users, and in particular loathe those uppity campaigners who dare to question their decisions? After all, they can and do dismiss these trouble-makers as “middle-class” (however blatantly misleading that is, especially in city centres), as if that amounted to any sort of argument. They may also claim that people can now buy all the books they want cheaply from Asda or Tesco; that everyone reads on computers or Kindles; that paper books mean nothing to fully-wired youngsters.
Don’t miss the 2nd Preston dance…with added Karaoke! Such a success the last time around, we’re doing it again.
8pm @ The Windermere Pub
Just £5 entry.
Noel the landlord has kindly invited you to bring a plate of nibbles to share. Maybe some more gingerbread councillors? Or some SOS scones?
It has been set up by an active Preston Library Supporter – a local version of an international idea: regular and friendly meetings to talk about a favourite book. There will be opportunities to buy and sell books too.
For more information and ways to get involved see their website here.
Cruel Separation is the award-winning story of General Pinochet’s American backed military coup in Chile in 1973, told through the eyes of four women who lived through it and narrated by Donald Sutherland.
Friday 23rd September in Kilburn.
Plus Q&A with Director, Sarah Boston
The film covers the coup from different perspectives and how the four women survived, picked up their lives afterwards and carried on in exile and back in Chile, to tell their stories of love and loss.
In today’s Evening Standard, Brent admits it has written off £millions in uncollected debt:
Campaigners today condemned town halls for not doing enough to hunt down “every penny” that bailiffs and debt collectors failed to trace.
An Evening Standard investigation found that in the 2009/10 financial year Tory-run Westminster council wrote off the most at £20.6 million.
This included £19.4 million in unpaid parking fines, which the council said was accumulated over several years and included foreign cars and embassies that refused to pay tickets and fees under diplomatic immunity.
Second highest was Labour-run Brent, which had £17.3 million uncollected, including £9.7 million of council tax. Hackney overpaid £2.58 million in housing benefit which is now lost.
Having made waves across the Atlantic in the Wall Street Journal, this week the Preston Library Campaign was featured in France’s biggest daily LE MONDE.
Who said we’re running out of steam? After just a few months, Brent SOS Libraries has raised £22,000 – and counting.
It’s the 4th Great Preston Pub Quiz. If you haven’t already been, this could be your last chance to experience the most talked about events of the year (in Preston) – prizes to won and a right-proper quizmistress, the wonderful Frances!
Bring friends, or just yourself!
£5 (£3 concs)
@ The Preston Pub, opposite the library – MAP HERE
The Evening Standard has joined the campaign to Save Our Libraries (across London).In a series of high profile reports, The Standard has noted the attack on Brent’s libraries.
Christopher Platt, who runs 100 Libraries in New York told the paper:
London should be investing in its libraries as vital community assets in times of economic hardship instead of closing them
Full article here.
The Evening Standard reports:
“The effect on children will be the worst. Books are so important, now more than ever. People are so cash strapped that books will be one of the first expenses to go.”
She added: “For boys it’s particularly important because what’s the alternative? Roaming the streets or sticking them in front of the TV and condemn them to not having the vocabulary to express themselves.”
Kathleen Frenchman, chairman of Libraries for Life for Londoners, said: “There are more and more children who cannot afford to buy books. Children will be greatly deprived.
Full article here.
Some memories of just a few of our SOS events this summer…
The government is to decide in SEPTEMBER whether it will intervene in Brent. It is absolutely vital you ALL write to Jeremy Hunt (at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) and demand an enquiry. This could save our library, but it needs hundreds of letters and emails to be sent as soon as possible – they said they would make a decision by September, this hasn’t happened, so we still have time.
Thousands are affected by the closure of Preston Library, thousands of letters must land on Jeremy’s desk.
It takes 2 minutes to write a short email. Do it now. Get your neighbours and kids to sign it.
What can you do?
1. Write a short email by clicking: email@example.com
- tell the Secretary of State why you will not be able to use another library if we lose ours – they may be too far, you may have small children who cannot go on their own, you can’t afford the bus fares, you have a disability and can’t travel easily. How will the loss of Preston Library affect YOU.
2. Download this: Letter to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP – Aug 2011
- Add your own comments and sign OR just sign as it is and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Personalised letters are less likely to be dismissed, so please try to add own comments of you can
3. Just send us your name and address and we’ll add you to our petition. Email us: email@example.com
The verdict for the Judicial Review has been postponed until October. This is good news as our libraries will remain open until then. We’re glad the judge is taking his time considering such an important issue.
As Wembley Matters blog explains:
As Brent Council promised to keep the libraries open until the decision this means that the Summer Reading Scheme should go ahead as normal at the six threatened libraries. Bindmans the solicitors handling the case will have talks with Brent’s solicitors to ensure that no significant damage is done to the Brent library service in the meantime.
Meanwhile, we have reached a whopping £20,000 – two thirds of our fundraising target – in just a few month. keep coming to our events, tell your friends and help us save your library.
YNUKtv is a fresh new channel with an output inspired by people in communities across the UK. People like us. They came to record what we are losing for posterity. Follow the YouTube channel here.
The verdict on our landmark Judicial Review could come this week, or we may have to wait longer.
Sign up to the email list and you will get the very latest – when we know it, you’ll know it. Until we are assured the library will stay open and continue to do what it has done so well for decades, we will keep going. We still need your help to lobby and raise money – but we’re making it as easy and fun as possible….