Highgate Library Action Group has worked for the library for over twenty-five years – sometimes in line with Haringey Council policy and sometimes against. We have always based our work on the expectation that the library would stay in its wonderful old original building. This position has not changed.
The proposal to move Highgate Library to Jacksons Lane came as a surprise . HLAG was invited to join the feasibility study as an involved representative group of users. We knew that library users felt a strong loyalty to our existing building, and there would be opposition to any move; but if Council policy was to locate a new modern library in the Jacksons Lane building, it would clearly be vital to know what such a move would involve (specifically, and in detail). HLAG decided to hold back on making any outright “pro-” or “anti-” statement until discussions took place. Since then, we have met with the Haringey Council Library Service, the Trustees and the Chief Executive of Jacksons Lane, and the proposed project architect in both open and closed meetings. Throughout these meetings, our role has been to question the plans from a practical point of view. Some of these questions are listed below.
- Would it be possible to recreate a similar-sized library within the Jacksons Lane building, without compromising the financial viability of the Centre?
- What would such a library look like, and what advantages would there be for the users?
- Who would have overall responsibility for the library, and who would fund it?
- Would this move be best for the library?
- What does the future hold for our library in the present building? and will there be any money for repainting or running repairs?
- What other future plans do Haringey Council have for their branch libraries?
To speed discussion, HLAG quickly produced accurate floor areas of the library and outline of use. We asked Haringey Council for statements on the present and future funding of the library space. We also took firm positions on the subjects of space-sharing, on the siting and arrangement of appropriate entrances, and on the future integrity of the space (should Council policy on branch libraries change).
The results of the feasibility study to date, following initial discussions, are being presented to the public on June 22nd , and will consist of several suggested plans by the architect. At this point, there will be the opportunity for further constructive feedback from the public regarding whether the plan is workable, and (if so) which amendments may be required.
Until this point, HLAG is reserving judgement on the Jacksons Lane proposal. The onus is very much on the architect and Jacksons Lane to demonstrate that a relocation would both work and be beneficial to the library, without a deterioration in quality. We’ve avoided making much use of social media to comment on the project, since this can and often does lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict. However, we can state unequivocably that HLAG is committed to maintaining Highgate Library as a quality branch library. As a group, HLAG has invested a great deal of personal time and effort in preserving and improving the existing building, and has a powerful emotional and practical attachment to it.
22nd JUNE 11am and 6:30 pm
at Jacksons Lane and then at Highgate Library