Saving Kensal Green library

by SJ Griffin

Some time ago, Brent Council (in north-west London) decided that it would be a really, really good idea to close most of the libraries in the borough. Kensal Green library amongst them.  I know, idiots right?

Interestingly, they didn’t choose to close Kilburn library in the affluent suburb of Queens Park. No, rather they decided to refurbish it at a cost comparable to that of running Cricklewood library for a year. We may suspect that this is because many rich, white people live in Queen’s Park and barely any rich, white people live in Cricklewood. But we may have suspicious minds, quick to succumb to paranoia.  And to be fair, they did decide to close Kensal Green library even though it was opened by Mark Twain. Yes, Mark Twain. Clearly these people don’t care about anything.

Closing libraries is obviously and stupid thing to do and I’m going to assume, gentle reader, that you don’t need me to tell you why.

As well as all the obvious and important benefits of libraries they also enabled a person to read books they don’t want to buy and also to have room in their house for things other than books, like a kitchen and a bed. I have spent a vast amount of time in libraries. I went through a phase of hiding in my home town’s central library when skipping school, pretending I was revising. Ah, the benefits of being tall when you’re thirteen, they are numerous. I was actually reading glamorous things by Americans.

Willesden Green Writers Group meets in a library. Not Kensal Green library but Willesden Green Library Centre. The Centre has also been subject to a local campaign to stop the council from knocking it down and building something ridiculous in its place. Something that a private company were going to make a lot of money from.  Anyway, the people of Brent put a stop to that for the time being. Partly due to our affection for libraries and partly due tour commitment to all things reading and writing (but not arithmetic) we of the writers group have decided to contribute to the cost of running the Kensal Green library for a year.  Campaigners needed to raise £70,000 in order to approach All Souls, who own the building and what have you, with a bid to run the library for a year and make necessary repairs. A few years ago we won the Raymond Williams prize for our anthology The Monkey’s Typewriter and we have put some of that money to magnificent use and made a donation of £1,000. And now I invite you to join us in crossing our fingers to hope that All Soul’s are amenable to the proposals.

Find out more about the campaign to save the Kensal Green library and what happens next.