Everything came together perfectly today for the first Friern Barnet People's Library. The weather was great, there was a genuinely wide choice of books, there was an impressive turnout, and we even achieved a one-week-on reunion of the #OccupyFB crew.
I arrived fairly late after catching two 251s (having to change at Whetstone). I was wearing my best Barnet blue flasher's mac, which you can see in rather too many of the photographs from the event (lots of people have pictures, e.g., the Pinkham Way Incinerator blog).
I didn't take my camera for once. It was a choice of heavy camera or heavy book - Capital vol. 1 by Karl Marx (I took something a little lighter, in all senses of the word, to donate to the library).
I swapped my donated book for the 1991 edition of a book called How the City of London Works. It probably doesn't work in quite the same way any more, but it's high time I found out something about it.
After all, it's the recklessness of some s**tbags in the City with their weird financial "products" that caused the almost complete crash of the banking system in 2008 that necessitated the banks bailout that pushed up the national deficit that provided the Tories (and their lickspittle Lib Dem lackeys) with the pretext for privatising everything in sight and savaging our public services that led to us being on Friern Barnet green at all... outside the now closed Friern Barnet Library.
The Library was nicely adorned on the outside by campaigners but we still would have preferred to be inside. The Councillors' surgery has had to move to take place in the Royal British Legion building nearby. So much for the library not being a community hub in the eyes of the Cabinet that has closed it!
(Thanks too today to the Legion for providing free tea.)
There was such a great gathering of people, we were able to swap ideas for the next steps in various campaigns. It really felt like a great coming together today of the various strands of discontent in the borough.
The "people's library" was the inspiration of Barnet Eye blogger Roger Tichborne. Lots of people pulled it together today, including the still determined Save Friern Barnet Library group. (They have a new petition on the Barnet Council website: please go and sign it and ask others to sign too.)
Robert Rams, Barnet bullshitter extraordinaire
Thank you to Mr Reasonable this evening for alerting us to the next full meeting of Barnet council this coming Tuesday, 17 April.
The business includes questions to Cabinet and Leader. The Labour group has asked some questions of Robert Rams, Cabinet member with responsibility for libraries including the decision to close Friern Barnet Library.
Rams' replies are truly staggering. He as good as admits he has never had any worked-up plan for his much vaunted "landmark library" at the Artsdepot to replace the closed Friern Barnet library. He is only now getting around to holding meetings about it with the Artsdepot. The funding for any future library will rely on the council persuading Arts Council England to stump up for it - how likely is any of this?
Please take the trouble to look at the questions and answers in the official document which you can acess via this page.
The questions of most interest are 50, 51, 58 and 59. Rams' answers to these questions are so bad that they deserve a blogstory all their own but time is pressing.
The Friern Barnet People's Library will run again next week, Saturday 21 April, 11am-1pm, at Friern Barnet Library. Don't miss it!