Friday, 10 February 2012

You'd have to be mad to close Friern Barnet library

There's a good piece in the Independent today - "Closing libraries? Now that's crazy" - by writer Boyd Tonkin who grew up using Friern Barnet library. He attended the event held last Saturday to mark National Libraries Day.

He talks about the contrast between the small library built in 1934 and the scary former asylum nearby:
I had half-forgotten just how close it stands to the gates of the stupendous edifice now known as "Princess Park Manor". Opened in 1851 as the Second Middlesex County Pauper Asylum, boasting the longest corridor in Europe under its fine Italianate dome, this was the dreaded Colney Hatch – a blood-freezing byword for the miseries of mental illness for generations of north Londoners.

...Now the 300-odd converted apartments of "Princess Park Manor" offer, the developers say, "a luxurious living link with the glories of Victorian England". A four-bedroomed penthouse will cost you £1,250,000.
Tonkin doesn't say so explicitly but the thought is implied. Isn't it mad that a society rich enough for some to enjoy accommodation such as that at Princess Park Manor can't afford a small library in the middle of Friern Barnet? It's not only mad, it's nonsense! We can afford it!


David Duff said...

*You* might be able to afford it. But thousands of Barnet residents on low-paying jobs with families to raise cannot. Nor, I would suggest, do they have the slightest interest in libraries, a ninstitution which arose in an age when books were expensive which they are not today. And yet still, in your 'lady from the manor' style, you insist that you know better than people what is good for people and force them to pay for what they do not need or want.

Citizen Barnet said...

No, no, you've completely misunderstood me. I want the rich to pay for the library!

(In any case, it is very well used by poorer families.)

Mrs Angry said...

oh, someone tell Duff that the only reason Friern Barnet library is under threat is because of its value as a development property: bang opposite the upmarket development of ths former asylum ... this is not about the cost of libraries, it is about the flogging off by our Tory council of every bloody asset that isn't nailed down: and quite a few that are.

David Duff said...

Vicki, define "rich".

Mrs. 'A', if it is flogged off then there will be more money in the council coffers for things that are properly their business - which does not include providing 'free' books for middle-class people who can afford their own!

Mrs Angry said...

no, Mr Duff, that is not how local government finance works, sadly ... have you actually ever been inside a library? Or read a book? What makes you think that library users can really afford to buy books rather than borrow them? That might be true if one were not a voracious reader, but in my experience, and yes, I used to work in one, the most frequent users borrow and read huge numbers. Children particularly benefit from an unlimited supply of material: very few parents could afford to buy such vast numbers of books for their little darlings.