Welcome To Christmas December 15th 2pm

On Saturday December 15th there will be a Welcome to Christmas event at the library.

Time 2 pm – 4 pm.

There will be live Christmas music, readings, and a craft table.

The even will be especially enjoyed by children 2 – 10 but really it’s good for everyone.

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Pumpkin Party Sat Oct 27th, 2pm

The traditional annual pumpkin carving event will be taking place at the library this coming Saturday (October 27th) , 2pm – 4pm.

Pumpkins will be available to carve. However if you have your own one, do bring it.

This is a fun, informal, drop-in event.  It is suitable for children of all ages.

It gives children who might not have experience of pumpkin carving the chance to give it a go, with supervision available from some old hands.

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Children’s Party – 14th July 2pm

Our Lost In Space party will take place at the library on Saturday 14th July 2pm – 4pm. It will feature story readings and a rocket. Children of all ages are welcome.

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AGM – Report by Chairman

It has been a very unusual year. Most of it was spent in fighting to clarify the ‘feasibility’ of Haringey’s plan to move our library out of our building–co-locating in a new space in Jacksons Lane Community Centre. It was not a happy time for library supporters or staff . This was complicated by unnecessary infighting amongst supporters until the point when the council jumped the gun on the decision in Cabinet and united us all.

When the dust cleared and the scheme was found to be unfeasible, we discovered that the community was confused as to whether there was a library here at all and if it would stay. Visits and issues dropped and spirits drooped.

It was then that we realised afresh what strength there was and is in our team of librarians –Devi and Irene and the part-timers Andrew, Amanda, and the rest. Not only had they fielded constant questions about the co-location from puzzled users but they had also kept all the library activities going and constantly planned new ones. They have been front-line workers and largely unreported stars in the fight for the best library services possible—we salute them .

HLAG kept going with happy events like our Garden Party for SuperHeros and our annual Pumpkin Party – despite a failure by Sainsburys to honour our order for pumpkins. We also had a very successful art workshop for kids with Jane Ray and recently an evening of reminiscences with Annabel Leverton. And we have a presence at Fair in the Square. CityRead 2018 promoted a workshop in conjunction with Holloway Art Lending Library –writing about a picture– which was extremely entertaining. See the results on their website, www.artlending.org.uk



Yet our committee marches on, making plans, hoping for change, keeping things moving, cooperating with other supporters. There is such a positive spirit in our group that it gives us all hope for the future of Highgate library. We always need more people to bring new ideas and challenges so please don’t be shy about asking to join us.

What is ahead? It is up to you! We have plans to continue our pattern of events and also to establish a Childrens Literature festival with talks, workshops and displays throughout the year. It will be focused mainly on Tots to Tens in 2018/9 — the opportunities are exciting and challenging. Let us know if you want to take part!

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The annual general meeting of the Highgate Library Action Group took place at the library May 22nd at 7.15.

At was well attended and featured a fascinating talk on the history of libraries.

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An Evening with Annabel Leventon. Wednesday April 18th.

On Wednesday April 18th Annabel Leventon recounted tales of her amazing life in music and theatre.

She was nominated Actress of The Year for her lead performance in the original production of Hair. She is an actress, singer, director and author of The Real Rock Follies, described by Stephen Fry as a “riveting account of an astonishing story”.

Audience members enjoyed the talk while sipping a glass of wine in a relaxed atmosphere. Some left with a signed copy of Annabel’s book.



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Proust Group

We met at the library on Saturday June 2nd and discussed the first part of volume 2, Within A Budding Grove, also known as In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower.

We’ll be back on Saturday July 7th to continue Within A Budding Grove, now tackling the second  half.


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HLAG sends new year greetings to all supporters and friends!

A reminder: Highgate Library has regular events for children, from Sing and Rhyme for babies and toddlers at 11 on Wednesdays to Messy Mornings (Tuesdays 11) to Open Play times with larger toys on Friday mornings. Our Cake Club has the next yummy session in February.

On 11th November, we had our first Reading Event, with Michael O’Callaghan launching and hosting  ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ Proust readings with discussion. This is unique in all of London’s reading groups and has created a membership of 15 with a further 20 on a waiting list.

We plan more events to make Saturdaysmemorable throughout the year. In the melting pot are Art Club sessions, Make and Mend lessons, Authors, Poetry readings and a major plan for a Childrens Literature Festival .

Join HLAG and share any ideas you have for running an event. This will be an open opportunity to try out a pet project and make it thrive.

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The feasibility study on Highgate Library’s potential relocation to Jacksons Lane Arts Centre has now been completed, with the results formally announced yesterday – and the outcome is “No”.

To cut a long story short, it comes down to cost. The sums which would be required to cover a relocation would be too great (even with the potential sale of the original library site) and the impact on Jacksons Lane’s existing work and cash turnover too negative. In other words, too much would be lost in exchange for too little return.

In all honesty, the idea was always something of a long shot. There was always the risk that the two endeavours might not fit together; and various practical objections were raised at the start of, and during the course of, the study. However, HLAG always believed that whatever the outcome, it was worth investigating the idea; and although discussions, negotiations and manoeuvres outside the process were often fraught, unpleasant and compromised, we’re pleased that the study itself proceeded smoothly and honestly.

Despite the difficult times and sore feelings, there has been a positive outcome from all of this in that the long and close contact which HLAG developed with the Jacksons Lane group will provide us with a further dimension for Highgate Library activity. Even though the two organisations will remain separate, we’ll be renting our upstairs rooms to the Arts Centre both during and after their reconstruction work, bringing in valuable revenue for the building. We also aim to develop further arts and literary programs to work on together.

For the foreseeable future, then, Highgate Library remains on Shepherds Hill. Since we do love our old building, this is a satisfactory outcome, although not one without ongoing challenges. Fine as the building is, it remains a little decrepit and sorely in need of investment and repair work (not least for its leaky roof). There also remains the matter of Haringey Council’s underhanded and premature move, in advance of the study conclusions, to place the site on its list of saleable assets. This was shameful, and will be fought. The Cabinet decision needs to be rescinded.

There are also questions regarding the potential “Highgate Station corridor” which includes the woodland green space to the side of the library linking Shepherds Hill to Priory Gardens. Although the Highgate Neighbourhood Scheme concluded that this area should not be redeveloped for housing but be preserved as it is (with some tidying up and improvements), and although they made the same strong recommendations to Haringey Council, achieving this much-desired outcome will rely very much on the Council’s good will and their respect for the neighbourhood. Judging by their recent form, we’ll need to watch them like hawks.

For now, though, our task and our pleasure will be to build up the library on Shepherds Hill, increase the visitors, offer support to the staff and think up new ideas to make it a real community hub for Highgate. Now is also the time to mend, repair and remedy some of the frustrations and indignations which emerged during the heated discussions on the potential move. We hope that all who have the interests of the library at heart will join to work together on this important journey.

(For those interested, Jacksons Lane will now proceed with redevelopment plans which don’t include the library. A formal community meeting to discuss them will be held at the Centre on Monday 18th September  at 6:30- more here.)

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News-sheet on June 22nd meetings re Jacksons Lane Co-Location Feasibility Study (plus updates and additional comment)

We’ve issued a news-sheet this week, covering the outcome of last week’s public meetings re the Feasibility Study for the potential Jacksons Lane Co-Location. You will find excepts below and a full text on a pdf.

HLAG involvement

Let’s be plain about this – HLAG has never wanted to move the library from Shepherds Hill. However, we felt that it was vital to be involved in discussions in order to keep library users briefed and in full understanding of what was happening. The project was one which raised crucial questions about the perception, future and survival of the library: it would have been wrong not to have been involved in the discussion. We have continued to speak for the library at these meetings. When the dust has settled we will be here still; working for the library.

We made sure from the start that basic requirements for any library in the Jacksons Lane building were clearly stated and adhered to: the equal amount of floor space, ground floor location, the separate entrance, the meeting rooms, natural light, disabled access if on upper level. We also stressed legal aspects regarding the lease.”

“The Study is now nearing its end, but several facts are still required before it can be concluded. HLAG has demanded two clear financial statements: (1) the actual costs of altering the building to include a library and (2) the viability of whether Jacksons Lane Arts Centre could continue with a diminished hireable space (having ceded part of it to the proposed library premises).

The vexed question of Public Consultation

 “One thing we’ve been queried on is why HLAG did not appear to back an immediate Public Consultation. The reason for this is that both Jacksons Lane Arts Centre and Haringey Council thought that these public meetings do constitute a public consultation. HLAG noted that previous Council papers and online surveys on libraries had been dismissed as badly-worded and unobjective; and thought that the local residents would reject a council paper consultation.

If there should be a need for a Public Consultation after the Feasibility study, it would need to be:  carefully worded, geographically restricted, , paper and online format, timed and adequately supervised .

Detailed Plans

There will be plans and comment papers available in the library, in Jacksons Lane and online from 10th July . Reactions to these will give the architect a clearer impression of which is the favoured option, if any.

“Once an option has been chosen, the project architect Katy Marks will be able to present specific costs. Only then will it become clear whether the proposal is feasible, and only after that can any properly informed key choices be made.”

The date is the end of July. There will be a further public meeting at that time.

“Unfortunately, although this process was embarked upon in good faith, it has been damaged by bad feeling and bad faith. Towards the start of the process,Haringey Council announced that they would fund the Jacksons Lane co-location project by an outright sale of the current library building and site. This aroused a great deal of bad feeling among library users and the community. An independent petition to protect the library in its current location was put on Change.org and gained many signatures: this in turn led to the formation of a new, independent organisation (Friends of Highgate Library Shepherds Hill) in early June 2017.

On the agenda for the meeting of the Cabinet on 20th June (just two days before the Feasibility Study open consultation day ) there was an “in principle” resolution to sell the library site. Both HLAG and FoHLSH sent deputations to the Council meeting to protest against this resolution in the strongest possible terms. At the meeting , Cllr. Kober announced a concession — if the library could not be accommodated on the Jacksons Lane site, a million pounds worth of “match funding” for the Arts Centre could and would be found without selling the Highgate Library site. Despite this, and with no discussion, there was a exempted part of the meeting at which the resolution was passed. This has left the community feeling betrayed and ignored and vulnerable. Despite our familiarity with Haringey Council’s workings over the years (including some harsh skirmishes), HLAG were deeply disappointed in the bad faith the Council displayed on this occasion, something which will inevitably colour our final conclusions.

Open Public Meeting 22nd July

“On 22nd June, open consultation meetings were held with the community to present the next stage of the Feasibility Study and explain the possible plans. These plans were based on discussions with Jacksons Lane, the Council and HLAG. Each group had presented a basic brief for the architect, Katy Marks. The resulting options were shown and explained, offering an opportunity for local people to comment on the plans. Comment sheets were available. The meetings were tense and combative, reflecting the frustrations, lack of trust and sense of betrayal felt by library users.

“While HLAG did not and has not made a final decision regarding the co-location project, we can report that all of the options presented at the meetings did present an appropriately sized space, a separate entrance and disabled access (at least satisfying some of the initial requirements). However, it was also clear that all of the options would involve huge costs just to make the space suitable; also, the loss of studio space for the Arts Centre may well prove too problematic for them. Katy Marks is only costing one option, and her figures will soon be available.

“At that point, HLAG will be able to state precisely where we stand; and to explain how we intend to move forward to keep our library fit for purpose. The library on Shepherds Hill, has ongoing problems which have not been dealt with. The refurbishment in 2002 was largely cosmetic and did not properly account for problems with the roof or the parquet floor or the need for a lift. If we are to deal properly with them, we will need funding. If there is to be no new modern library, will there be any finance for fixing the old one? Are there other sources for finance? All of these questions will need to be presented to – and negotiated with – Haringey Council.

As ever, we welcome constructive input from our library users, and membership applications from those who want to support our efforts.

For the full text of the original paper news-sheet as a pdf, click below:

Report on Feasibility Survey, 22nd June

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