26 July 2012
Chair of the Society, Lindsey Davis, has written to Sir John Vickers, Warden of All Souls College, Oxford, to ask him to consider the importance of public libraries when they decide the fate of the Kensal Rise Library building.
Kensal Rise Library was first opened by Mark Twain in 1900, and has served the local community for over one hundred years. The library was created for the betterment of the working class residents, and while the land was gifted by All Souls College, Oxford, the local community and local taxes financed the building itself.
Kensal Rise Library has survived two World Wars and the Great Depression; but sadly it was not able to fend off Brent Council’s closure threats, and the library was shut in October last year when Brent disposed of six of its 12 libraries. (brentsoslibraries.org.uk/sos).
The local community established a campaign (savekensalriselibrary.org) as well as a charity, the Friends of Kensal Rise Library (friendsofkensalriselibrary.org), to oversee the running of the library. The campaign has gained widespread support and attention from the national press, high-profile figures including Alan Bennett, Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman, Zadie Smith, and from as far afield as the Mark Twain House and Museum in the US.
The Friends are ready and able to take over the library but there is one significant hurdle before this can be achieved - All Souls needs to restore the building to the community.
All Souls has previously stated that they are “happy for the Friends to run the Library”, but they are preparing the Library for an open bidding process. The current plans are in contrast to All Souls' previous commitments to the community and their long history in Kensal Rise.
The campaign group are asking All Souls to revert their current course of action and to transfer the freehold of the building to the Friends of Kensal Rise Library so that it can be restored to the community.
- Sign the petition here
- Read the letter to the Warden of All Souls, Oxford
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