Library campaigners have handed in a petition of more than 6,000 signatures objecting to the proposed closure of Preston Road library in Brent, as the council consults over wider closures. Six libraries could be at risk, 50% of the council's total, with councillors due to make a final decision on the closures by 11th April. Author Zadie Smith has also joined the campaign to save her local library in Brent.
Campaigner and freelance agent Geraldine Cook and campaigner Samantha Warrington delivered a petition signed by more than 6,000 people to protest about the closure of Preston Road Library to administrator Peter Goss. The library, according to the council's figures, had 97,000 visits per year.
Cook said: "The leader of the council [councillor Ann John] gives as a reason for these closures that she herself 'did not grow up near a library' and that people can 'buy books for 60p' and 'browse in charity shops' instead, and that 'everyone has computers' and Kindles".
A spokesperson for the council said the closures were designed to save money, estimated at £1m in a statement about the consultation released by the council in November, and that funds would be invested in existing libraries in order to turn them into community "hubs".
Author Zadie Smith has also spoken out about the threat to Brent's libraries. Smith spoke at a meeting held last night, reported by the Guardian. She said the government's policy was "so shameful that they will never live it down". Looking back at the life-changing impact libraries had on her teenage self, she said, bought home to her what a horribly misconceived, short-sighted and disastrous policy it is for local authorities to close their libraries. Smith's essay on the importance of community libraries, was also featured on Radio 4's Today programme.