An open letter to the powers that be from the trustees of Mark Twain House, Connecticut (US):
Dear Secretary Hunt, Minister Vaizey and Brent Council Members,
I would like to grab a moment of your time and some brief attention as you hurriedly prepare for the arrival of the Olympians this Summer. Stateside, we are all very excited to see how you celebrate this monumental event!
There is great anticipation for the Olympics as it is a wonderful opportunity for the world to come together in the spirit of competition and excellence.It is, of course, also an opportunity for you to showcase the assets of your great city.
One of the assets of any city, any culture or any society great is its repository of knowledge. Mark Twain, the man we honor here at his home in Hartford, CT, USA, knew this when he said:
“A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.”
The one thing Twain might not have anticipated a library having to survive is our current economy. Another of his wonderful quotes:
“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”
The financial mismanagement of Brent Council continues unabated. The cost of refurbishing Kilburn library has gone up from £117,000 to £650,000 – an extra £half million has been found to upgrade one of the least-used libraries in Brent.
The original figure formed part of the Library Transformation Plan that new leader Mo Butt is determined to see through. That figure was therefore approved by the executive when they voted for closure last year.
In just 18 months, the figure has increased five-fold. No justification for the increase has been put forward by Brent Council.
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.
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.
Children’s activity day @ Preston Park School, College Road… 10.15am – 4pm… Storytelling, pop-up library, guest authors, art corner..and more.
What the Dickens! Celebrate 200 years of Dickens @ The Windermere… 7.30pm… Readings, Open Mic, guest poets and of course ale. Come dressed up in your favourite Victorian garb.
Who said Preston Library is dead??
Alongside Sir David Attenborough and Rebecca Adlington, our campaign seems to have inspired people across the country and The Independent on Sunday. Not quite as hilarious as employee of the week
Team of The Year of course, so we are very happy.
IoS Great Britons 2011
The Independent on Sunday brings you its highly subjective list of the 50 natives of these isles who did most to lift our mood in difficult times. We also mourn those we have lost; ridicule those who deserve it; and celebrate the most inspirational foreigners
Brent library protesters
Residents fighting the closure of six libraries in the London borough of Brent represented the outrage felt by much of the nation’s readers and researchers about cutbacks by staging a round-the-clock protest outside Kensal Rise Library, which was opened by American writer Mark Twain 111 years ago. The campaigners were the first in the country to seek a judicial review into library closures.
@The Preston Pub (opposite Preston Library)
7.30pm (for 8pm start)
Professional quizmaster, raffle and prizes!
Come along and show your support for a hard fought campaign. It’s not over yet!
Author Kamila Shamsie writes in today’s New York Times...
The part of North London I live in borders the council of Brent, now the site of an intense legal battle to save local libraries that has become the vanguard for similar efforts around the country. On Dec. 29, police officers held back protestors outside Preston Library while local government officials removed all its books, impervious to the nearby poster of Santa, a speech bubble over his head saying “Don’t rely on me; give kids their books back.” Since April 2011, 423 libraries have either closed down or been slated for closure — that’s almost 10 percent of all libraries in Britain.
Read the rest here.
The team who closed your library won not one but two awards in December. While the cash-strapped council wasted another £15,000 in celebrating Sue McKenzie (below, centre) and her team’s noble achievement in destroying Preston, Private Eye came up with a rather more accurate award:
ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2011
WHO’S been bullying the electors; who’s been pocketing the brown envelopes; and who doesn’t know the difference between “astronomy” and “astrology”? Find out if your local authority is guilty of crimes against the council taxpayer and picked up a gong in the Rotten Borough Awards 2011…
Congratulations to Brent council’s “team of the year”. Yes, it’s the Library Transformation Team, whose successful 2011 has seen the closure of six of the London borough’s 12 libraries in the face of community outrage.
Yesterday, contractors pulled down the Brent ‘Wall of Shame’ hiding Preston Library. This follows a sneaky move to empty it of books and equipment last week, before any injunction to stop it could be issued.
The Wall, with its popular support from local artists and schoolchildren, has become a major embarrassment to the Council over the last few weeks and they have finally decided that perhaps it was not such a good idea after all
It would be interesting to learn exactly how much this futile exercise of paying contractors to erect the Wall – and then take it down again – has actually cost Council Tax payers.
Unfortunately for Brent Council, the Wall is unlikely to be forgotten – we have photos galore.
Police side with council as it empties the library.Brent takes advantage of the holiday shutdown to pre-empt any intervention from the Supreme Court, where an appeal was lodged two weeks ago.
Campaigners expect the council to rush through the sale of the library in the coming months, depriving the area of its last local service.
For those who missed last week’s carols – you can now sing the special ones around your tree at home. We have shown incredible spirit this year and we intend to continue into the new year.
You can also download and print them here: A Preston Christmas Carol
Brent Council spent £15,000 on an awards ceremony in which the team behind the closure of six libraries was honoured, the Times can reveal.
The council gave out 139 awards to staff at the lavish end-of-year bash at Brent Town Hall earlier this month.
The night cost taxpayers around £50 for every person who attended, the council said. The Libraries Transformation Team, which was behind the project which closed half of the borough’s libraries, was named Team of the Year.