June 21, 2012
Of possible interest to Jewish residents of the Suburb:
"In a place far from libraries, I have often read the text of Beowulf for pleasure," wrote Kenneth Sisam, presumably because he lived in Barnet and the Tories had closed all the libraries...As I wrote last year (http://matthewfharris.blogspot.com/2011/01/burning-money-at-barnets-pled...), if people in Barnet want things like museums and libraries to be paid for with their Council Tax, then they have to consciously opt for that to happen, "unless we are now deciding that we want no museums, libraries, parks or anything else at all apart from homes, shops and pubs?"
I do not really believe that the Conservatives are 'closing all the libraries'. Such an accusation would be hyperbole. Truth be told, I am not currently active in local politics, and I don't know very much about which libraries are and are not earmarked for closure, etc. In principle, in abstract, I accept that things like libraries do sometimes have to close, as well as open.
Councils have limited resources and have to choose what to spend taxpayers' money on. Most people, I think, would want some of their taxes spent on libraries, especially when one considers some of the other things that councils choose to spend their money on (http://matthewfharris.blogspot.com/2010/10/it-all-question-of-priorities...).
So, when I first heard about the campaign to save Hampstead Garden Suburb Library, part of me was sceptical. In a time of 'austerity', some things might sometimes have to close. I grew up in the Suburb and rarely went to its library, as Hendon Library was my local library when I was a kid, and then Church End Library was opposite my school. But my parents told me that the Suburb's library is much-used and much-valued, so I am happy to accept that I was wrong.
The great news is that local volunteers have taken over the running of this library, which is becoming Hampstead Garden Suburb Community Library. This has taken (and will continue to take) a huge commitment in terms of local people's time, energy and hard work. I applaud the initiative of the people who have made this happen. Perhaps it can be a model for other community libraries elsewhere?
So I'm delighted to see in Hendon Times (http://www.times-series.co.uk/
news/9767318.Jonathan_Ross_to_open_community_library/) that one local resident, Jonathan Ross, will formally open the community library on 28 June. This is exactly the sort of positive community action that we need across the country.