Thursday, 13 September 2012

Swampy gets a job

As a librarian:
On Tuesday the squatters, who describe themselves as caretakers, are opening for business, lending books for the first time since the council closed the library. While they don't have the knowledge and expertise of trained librarians they have plenty of enthusiasm. They have set up a rota of volunteer librarians so that the library can open four days a week.
Cool, so we've got books, music, internet, free wireless, daily newspapers, photocopying and printing facilities, and all the other things we expect from a library these days?  Perhaps not:
A few dog-eared copies of novels by Joanna Trollope and Wilbur Smith sit on the otherwise bare shelves of Friern Barnet library alongside banners urging "peace", "occupy" and "revolution".
So what we have here, as someone commented in the Guardian today, is not so much a library but a room with some books in it. It is about as much a library as me cooking up a few sausages on a disposable barbecue on the village green and calling it a restaurant.

Of course the usual boilerplate squatting excuses come out - "reopening community facilities" and "welcomed by residents". That isn't quite the true picture though:
THE organisers of a campaign to reopen Friern Barnet Library say they will not be joining the group of protesters currently occupying the building.

Friern Barnet Library closed on April 5 after a long campaign by local residents, including the Save Friern Barnet Library group, opposed to plans to merge the library with North Finchley library to create a landmark arts library at artsdepot in Tally Ho Corner. On that day 16 members of the public staged a sit-in in protest to the closure.

Since then the community have held several pop-up libraries outside the library's former home.
But Maureen Ivens of the Save Friern Barnet Library group said the group had decided to refuse the invitation.

She said: “We have been invited by the new occupants to join them in running a community library in the building but have decided not to trespass there but continue to run our protest libraries from the adjacent village green.
Seems like the community has been fine doing their own thing for the past five months. Funny how the squatters turned up just after squatting in residential properties was made illegal.

The BBC has also run an article on this that makes something very clear that the Guardian only hinted at:
A week ago a small group began living in Friern Barnet library, north London, and operating a community-run service.
Occupy London, which is is staying on site, said it received an eviction notice on Thursday morning.
Now interestingly, the council has offered them an alternative site to run a community library from but it's the Friern Barnet site or nothing apparently. Perhaps the most damning part of this is:
Pete Phoenix, of Occupy London, said the building's occupation was a direct result of changes to the law which allowed police to raid residential properties on suspicion they were being occupied by squatters and remove them.
So it isn't about reinstating community facilities. No, it's a pathetic front for freeloading. No one in Barnet will hear from them again when they're finally evicted.

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