Sep 13 2012 By Hannah Bewley
CAMPAIGNERS celebrated outside their beloved former library after raising a staggering £70,000 so they can bid to take over the building.
Members of the Save Kensal Rise campaign raised the funds in just three weeks and presented a proposal to open the building as a volunteer-led community library to All Souls College, Oxford, which owns the red brick Victorian building.
The library, in Bathurst Gardens, which was opened by American author Mark Twain in 1900, was closed by the Labour-run Brent Council in October 2011 along with five others in the borough.
Laura Collignon from the campaign, which celebrated on Friday last week, said: “We were not surprised that we got so many donations.
“They have been coming in from all over the world and as far away as Australia.
“We hope this will work as a community library, but the sad thing is that this is not a model which will work everywhere.
“People who need the libraries most in deprived areas don’t have the time to campaign like we have done.”
Following lengthy legal battles and challenges, the community group was one of a number of bidders which hopes to lease or own the building.
Ms Collignon said the campaign has ‘big plans’ and if this works it hopes to start a borough-wide mobile library.
Wills Morgan, a local musician and artist who played a colourful piano at the pop-up library, which has been run by volunteers since the council-run library closed, said: “This is a story about community and people. It is not about the money, it is about everyone working together for the community.”
The campaigners put in a detailed bid consisting of three phases and eventually hope to use all three floors and convert the attic into working space.
All Souls College will now consider the application but have given no indication about when a decision will be made.
The Friends of Barham Library is also hoping to make a bid to take over the former library building in Barham Park, Harrow Road, and are urging readers to help them reach their £25,000 target.
They have raised £1,000 so far and have until October 1 to raise the rest, after the deadline was extended.
To support the Friends of Barham Library go to barhamlibrary.wordpress.com.