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Squatters reopen Friern Barnet Library
Monday, 10 September 2012
Library returns: Friern Barnet Library reopened its doors after five months of disuse
FIVE months after its controversial closure, a team of community squatters have reopened Friern Barnet Library.
Activists who entered the former library building in Friern Barnet Road in the early hours of Wednesday morning held their first communal library session on Saturday, and today hosted talks with Barnet Council officers, campaigners, councillors and bloggers over the establishment of a permanent community-run library in the disused building.
The group has brought in almost 500 books so far and has pledged to open the library, which will be staffed by squatters and local volunteers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am to 3pm.
Activist Pete Phoenix, 41, said the library’s success would depend on the involvement of the community, with volunteers being asked to contribute both books and time.
He said: “It is up to everyone in Barnet. If they want a community library they will have to come in and make that happen. If they stand on the sidelines it may close in a few weeks. But if they come in and get involved we will prove that this is a workable model.”
Mr Phoenix, who said he had 25 years’ experience of occupying public buildings for community use, said the squatters' negotiations were ongoing with the council and members of the Save Friern Barnet Library campaign group over how to keep the community library running.
The authority has already taken the group on a tour of nearby Friary House, which it had previously offered as an alternative venue for a community-sponsored library. Negotiations are set to continue next Monday.
“Everyone has been incredible,” said Mr Phoenix. “It is probably one of the biggest levels of support of a community squat action for many years and hopefully we are going to focus that support into co-operation by the council and the community and see this place used.”
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Sir Ray Tindle
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