In my capacity as Barnet TUC publicity officer, I maintain a large database of contacts to inform about our activities. I once went looking for anarchists in Barnet. After all, other boroughs have stable communities of anarchists who produce magazines, run film nights, and so on, and can be relied on to support anti-cuts activity.
But in Barnet, other than a pleasant, lone anarchist who operates on the margins of the Barnet Alliance, I drew a blank.
Now a group of anarchists hearing on the anarchist grapevine that Friern Barnet Library has closed, have occupied it. Squatted it, you might say, but whereas squatting residential property has recently been made a crime, squatting other buildings has not.
Like anything that involves politics - people having different views - there are tensions in this situtation, but with luck it can be used to put new fire into the campaign to save Friern Barnet Library.
The Save Friern Barnet Library (SFBL) campaign have not given up for a moment their fight or their belief that their purpose-built library will open again in the heart of their community. Barnet Council rather bizarrely hurried down on hearing about the anarchists and took them to see the house in Friary Park that they have been trying to get SFBL to take over as a library substitute.
If you know anything about anarchism, their core idea is that the State is the enemy. To my mind they neglect the value - even if it is often ambivalent - of the welfare state, the idea that the state can mean, as well as repressive institutions, welfare services, publicly accountable and publicly owned.
SFBL have been clear from the start that they want Barnet Council to provide a library service in Friern Barnet Library. Their earlier offer to run community services from the library was in order to supplement the library service, not to replace it.
The anarchists are less clear on this, it seems. Of course, the anarchists have done their own work and have the right to express their own views. But their goals and those of SFBL do overlap and where they do I hope they can work together to advance the aim of saving Friern Barnet Library.
Today, SFBL have organised one of their pop-up libraries - everyone is invited to go and support this. And you will have the added excitement, if all goes to plan, of using the library itself, where a number of workshops are being held. Details:
The Save Friern Barnet Library group will be holding its monthly pop-up library today 11am-1pm on the library green.The Friern Barnet library building will be open via the rear door (facing the green) from 11am onwards, and occupiers are inviting any individuals in to have a look round. There are some free creative writing workshop at 1pm in the library by Greenacre Writers, and Dr Natelson offers a Physics / Chemistry lecture and tuition from 11am-1pm.POP DOWN AND SUPPORT THE RE-OPENING OF FRIERN BARNET LIBRARYSign the petition - is.gd/friern