Brent Council recommends closing six libraries

Brent Council recommends closing six libraries

Brent Council has recommended closing six of its libraries, as protests continue against the cuts.

The report follows a three-month community consultation on Brent's "Libraries Transformation Project". It has been published ahead of the final meeting of the executive committee on 11th April, when it will decide on its library policy.

Despite lobbying from organisations such as Save Preston Library Campaign and Save Kensal Rise Library, which has gained high-profile support from author Zadie Smith, the report suggests Barham Park, Cricklewood, Neasden, Preston, Tokyngton and Kensal Rise libraries should be closed.

Six libraries will remain open and the town hall/civic centre library will move to the new Civic Centre building in 2013. The report said "a large state of the art library will be the showpiece of the new building".

The council recommended seven-day opening for all remaining libraries, including two late nights, plus longer opening hours for students during exam periods. It also advised increasing its e-book and audio offer, as well as offering online services for borrowers.

A spokesperson for the Preston and Kensal Rise campaign groups said: "Local libraries, to which children, teenagers, elderly people and those with mobility issues can walk, and whose sole purpose is to lend books and offer information are not a priority [for the council]."

The spokesperson said rather than offering new digital services such as recording talks for broadcast on YouTube or virtual reading groups, the council should focus on the statutory duty set out in the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.

Campaigners handed over a petition with more than 6,000 signatures objecting to the proposed closure of Preston Road library last week [30th March].

Speaking at a meeting last week [29th March] author Zadie Smith, who has been vocal in her support of Kensal Rise Library, said the government's policy was "so shameful that they will never live it down".