London: Friern Barnet Library Reclaimed

On the 5th of September Occupiers and members of the local community in North London reclaimed the Friern Barnet Library after it had its doors closed in April by the council this year due to public sector cuts. The library is now declared liberated, occupied and reopened to the public. Although today the council served an eviction notice.

Four days after squatting abandoned residential buildings became a criminal offence, [1] three squatters looking for an alternative home entered the closed Friern Barnet Library. Slipping in through an open window, they realised that the building held great importance to the community.[2]

Monday saw locals and the local councillors attend a meeting in which the council offered an alternative building. This offer by the Barnet Council was declined. Local campaigners were adamant that this building was built to be a library, used by the community alongside ten local schools.

“I think it’s very important to keep this as a library, I was aware of it closing, but today I have enjoyed just dropping in with my son and meeting people.” said Satbir Allman, local resident

Local resident Frances Briers of the Save Friern Barnet Library Campaign also agreed how important the library is to the community. She said; “After talks with the occupiers last week we decided to open the library on Saturday. Since, the occupiers and members of the campaign group [3] have been working together in scheduling workshops and organising rotas.”

The occupiers state that the closure of the library is a part of a long list of public services that have been listed by Barnet Council as an unnecessary cost. Barnet council like many others are allowing market forces to determine the quality and quantity of public services.

Occupy supporter Leon Pike stated, “I believe that Occupy is about connecting local issues to global ones. We are here to help the community with their plight in any way we can. But it is important for us to make clear that similar struggles are taking place all over the world. Wherever profit is put before people in a system designed and orchestrated by the 1% we can expect to see the loss of public services like this one. We need to take direct action and reclaim our world.”

As the Occupy movement gathers its strength for its one year anniversary, supporters in London are building on events and actions in the coming months and beyond, and linking with actions globally.[5][6]


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