Feb 15 2011 By Tara Brady
Library users protest at closure plans
BEST selling author, Philip Pullman, has slammed plans to close a library in Brent.
Mr Pullman said closing Kensal Rise Library would be "unthinkable" and "absurd". The Labour-run Brent Council is planning to close six of the borough's 12 libraries - Barham, Cricklewood, Neasden, Tokyngton, Kensal Rise and Preston.
Kensal Rise Library was opened by American writer Mark Twain more than 120 years ago.
Mr Pullman said: "The idea of closing down a library that Mark Twain opened is preposterous, unthinkable, absurd. It's throwing away the generosity of parents and grandparents and all the generations for a hundred years.
"It's saying to the pioneers of the public library system, those who struggled and sacrificed to bring the great illuminating blessing of books and reading to every corner of the country, that we don't want light any more, thanks, we'd rather live in the dark.
"Well, any fool can put a light out; any fool can close a library."
Meanwhile, Brent novelist Maggie Gee, who has lived in Willesden for 25 years, has pledged her support to the campaign.
The writer, whose Orange Prize shortlisted novel, The White Family, is set in an imaginary version of Willesden called 'Hillesden' and features a librarian as well as Roundwood Park, said: "It was a novel partly about the importance of shared space - parks and libraries.
"Libraries are the gateways to knowledge and to mental freedom, as well as spaces old and young can share. This library is 120 years old, but it is still full of young people - what a fantastic record. We are determined to keep it and improve it for future children and young people."
Readers continue to support the Observer's Keep Libraries Local campaign and have been signing the petition online.
George Latham, from Brent, wrote: "Libraries are essential community resources. They need to be developed to maximise their potential, not closed to save short term costs."
While Priya Shah, from Wembley, said: "Ed Miliband is against the library cuts. Why are his councillors going along with the Government agenda?"
Campaigners attended another meeting to save Barham Library, in Sudbury, on Saturday (Feb 12). A public meeting to save Preston Library was expected to take place last night (Wed, Feb 16).
Sign the Observer's petition by visiting www.petition.co.uk/save-brent-libraries-from-closure