30 May 2012
Last night Brent council, with the assistance of police and security, emptied Kensal Rise Library of its books, furniture and murals.
Today, the Royal Society of Literature issued the following response:
"The Council of the Royal Society of Literature, which has consistently opposed the closure of public libraries, is appalled to hear of the action taken by Brent Council in the former Kensal Rise Library in the early hours of this morning. We gather that a Council group, guarded by a dozen policemen, unscrewed from the wall and removed the brass plaque commemorating the opening of the building by Mark Twain in 1900, and the plaque marking the centenary of the same event. This appears to be an act of philistinism bordering on vandalism, and we wonder what the justification for it can be."
The SoA strongly supports this response. Lindsey Davis, Chair of the Society says:
“The barbarians are no longer at the gates, they have broken in using police and security guards. The spectacle at Kensal Rise Library in the middle of last night can only horrify anyone who believes in reading as a civilising, informing and comforting part of life. That it is presided over by an Oxford College in the role of evil landlord is the worst part of this dangerous fiasco. The leader of Brent Council’s feeble claim ‘that he hoped All Souls would return the building to the use for which it as intended – a community library’ seems utterly disingenuous – and very unlikely to happen. What was the library, if not a community reading room? All of us who are campaigning for public libraries must loudly and furiously condemn what has happened.”
We urge you to check library campaigns in your government area, and to add your voice. The following links might be useful:
- Alan Gibbons' Campaign for the Book
- Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries
- Save CLR James Library
- Save Kensal Rise Library
- The Library Campaign
- Voices for the Library
The Council of the Royal Society of Literature: Anne Chisholm (Chair), Robert Binyon, Anthony Gardner, Romesh Gunesekera, David Harsent, Paula Johnson, Caroline Moorehead, Andrew O’Hagan, Peter Parker, Piers Plowright, Fiona Sampson, Helen Simpson, Ali Smith, Jeremy Treglown, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Frances Wilson.