Lively AGM

The Chairman’s Report by Susan Chinn was presented in two parts:

Part 1:

HLAG’s main job is supporting the library. In 2016-7 we have done this two ways.First: we have ensured a new generation of library users by supporting activities for children –Sing and Rhyme, the Pumpkin Party, and the Garden Party –-and by donating books and requesting them.

Second: we joined the other library Friends groups in FORE (Friends of Reading and Education) to fight — successfully — against the proposed £150,000 of cuts to the library service.

We have committed ourselves to supporting the staff in whatever they do and we praise them for keeping a steady feeling of calm and welcome in the face of changes in status and service.

Many thanks to our committee, whose members often have other commitments of family and work, have given time and energy to our projects.

Part 2

A discussion of the Future

At the end of March –just 8 weeks ago—Sarah Wrightson and I were called to a meeting at Jacksons Lane Arts Centre. We were then told of the idea of moving the library across the road to join the theatre and cultural activities in the Jacksons Lane building.

At that point we had three choices:

  • to declare that we would be totally opposed
  • to let Jacksons Lane and Haringey meet and discuss without us
  • to join in discussions about the feasibility of the project

We decided to talk.

In the subsequent publicity announcement from Haringey, HLAG was presented as one of the three groups behind this project, and this has meant that many people think we originated it. This is not true. The idea came from the Jacksons Lane Trustees who presented it to the Council (owners of the building) who thought it was a great idea and enthusiastically agreed. However they knew, because of HLAG’s long history of interference in anything speculative or perilous to do with the library, that we had to be included in the discussions. So, sensibly, we were invited.

It was explained to us that this opportunity to create “an exciting new community arts and culture hub…with new and upgraded library services..” came about because of the need for Haringey to contribute to the capital refurbishment of the Centre. The eventual sale of the library site would provide the funding needed.

From this intital suggestion onwards, HLAG has been taking a full part in all meetings and discussions, putting the library and the needs of the Library Service (as well as those of Jacksons Lane) into place. We used the abilities of our committee members (architects and surveyors) to make initial measurements of our space and suggested research into what might exist as lost space under the building . We provided a wide approach to the proposition, asking how a free public service could work in a commercial space.

This does NOT mean that we have automatically supported the proposal. This does NOT mean that we have wanted to lose our beloved building. This does NOT mean we have made it easy for anyone. It means that we have ALWAYS asked if the aim of matching the library space in this building in Jacksons Lane could be achieved. It means that we have facilitated the most wide-ranging approach to the project .

We have also considered the problem of where- -and in what state– the library will be in five years. In a time of increasing threats to library funding, staffing, premises, even existence, it is always best to carefully and constructively consider all strategic options.

In doing so we have always had in mind the unique position of Haringey in North London (and indeed in the country as a whole) as a council that has kept all its libraries. But with each passing year in this austerity cycle, the financial support for the Library Service has dropped until it is nearly at unsustainable levels. In the next few years the branch libraries may be forced to close. The sale of Highgate Library might then become inevitable in the eyes of the council’s Finance Director. Should we be taking this into consideration as supporters of the library? If our library is to survive, is it to be an all-or-nothing scenario of this library in this building?

Following this speech, there was a full and frank open discussion about many of the complex issues surrounding this proposed joint enterprise. Cllr Claire Kober, leader of the Council spoke on the council’s point of view (noting that the two organisations would have separate funding) as did Cllr. Jason Arthur and Trustees of Jacksons Lane. The Architect for the feasibility study, Katy Marks of the Citizens Design Bureau, explained the reasoning behind it, the difficulties and the possible solutions.

There were many objections both in principle and in method to the project and to the way in which the feasibility study had been arranged. Leaders behind the petition against the project spoke forcefully of their view that the library should remain intact and on site. Financial constraints were a major concern and the position of public services (especially libraries ) under future auterity restrictions.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a show of hands supported the proposition that the meeting had been informative and useful and that the decision to continue to be part of the discussions was correct.

The next public meeting of the feasibility study would be held on 22nd June all day at the library and in the afternoon at Jacksons Lane for tours of the space. All were urged to come and present their views.

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HLAG AGM is on Wednesday 24th May at 7:30. Come and hear all points of view and express yours.  History and consideration of the future of public libraries under review. Nothing is settled, nothing is secretly planned.

First part of the meeting from 7pm is for HLAG members.

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Breaking news! Could Highgate Library join forces with Jacksons Lane Centre?

Would it be possible to embed the library within Jacksons Lane Arts Centre (when it is refurbished and repaired) to make a new cultural hub in Highgate?

Meetings are now underway to determine if this idea is at all feasible. Important considerations include

  • Whether or not the amount of space needed for a library would take too much rentable space to be an economic possibility for Jacksons Lane.
  • What is the future for libraries nationwide as well as in Haringey?
  • What do people want from a library in 2020 that could happen in a mixed-use space?

There will be discussions and workshops on these subjects at the library on the 17th May, led by the architect Katy Marks.

Everyone will be welcomed to share in this important exercise, whether or not they use the library at the moment.

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Cakes and Music and Poetry

The library hosted two new ventures in January, February and March –two Cake Club meetings and the other a celebration of poetry on World Poetry Day –and the participants munched and listened and enjoyed!

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We successfully resisted proposed library cuts


FORE sent a sent a deputation to Haringey council cabinet once more, this time on February 14th. Under consideration were proposed library cuts and the result of the recent online survey.

At this meeting, FORE made a successful plea to reverse the decision to cut library opening hours and staff.

Out of 140 responses to the online consultation, 73 said libraries should not be touched and a further 23 said this would disadvantage vulnerable groups.

This outcome shows the power support groups can have when working together.

Note: FORE (Friends of Reading and Education) coordinates Haringey-wide library support groups, including us – the Highgate Library Action Group.

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Extract from minutes of HLAG committee in January

Council Budget 2017/8: Haringey are consulting on their budget cuts of £20m. Branch Libraries are expected to save £150,000 by cutting their opening hours by 40%. On-line questionnaire was due in 22/1/17, but may be extended. FORE (all Haringey libraries) sent a deputation to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on the 17/1/17 objecting: this will be passed to Cabinet & Council for a decision. 2nd Deputation planned for Cabinet on 14/2/17. Suggest letter writing to local Cllrs or MP, Catherine West by all. Our branch at particular risk.

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Haringey council consultation

Haringey council is runnig a budget consultation threatening a  new attack on libraries.

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FORE consultation letter





Re: consultation on the 2017/18 Budget and financial strategy up to 2021/2


FORE!, the umbrella group for Friends of Libraries, has supported and applauded the Council’s policy of keeping all the libraries open. We had hoped that the council would have continued strengthening the Service,  but it is now evident that a disproportionate percentage of cuts will hit the branch libraries in the coming years.


Papers for this public consultation only arrived at the libraries on the 11th January  (although consultation was begun on 19th December) and the final date for submissions is the 22nd January. We strongly object to this truncated time period and ask that it be extend by at least two weeks to enable a full participation by library users. Failure to do this will discriminate against those who do not use the internet.


We object to the decision to cut such a high proportion of hours in the branches as they are the one public place in the community where all of the Priorities on Page 5 of the Consultation document are best served to the public. Since closure of clubs and support groups for the elderly, the disabled, and children,  the libraries are even more important. Access to and training with computers is supporting government insistence on the use of online forms and resources for all citizens, especially job seekers and those who lack facilities at home. For many residents, a good and well-stocked library is considered an asset when they are choosing a home. Community participation and programmes for children are highly prized at the branches, and cuts like those proposed would seriously diminish all of these services in Haringey.


There is an inequality surrounding the impact inherent in these plans, especially on the very young, the elderly, and the unemployed in areas with high unemployment and density problems.


FORE! believes that implementing the proposals would lead to a reduction in footfalls and issues at the branches and thus cause a situation like that of 1999, where proposals to cut branch libraries were mooted because they were ‘not used’.  Cuts in supplies (including books) and computer and printer repairs have already had negative effects on library use. It is also short-sighted, for by reducing services accessed by vulnerable groups there is a risk of an escalation of their difficulties which will impact other council services.


FORE! also notes that although the specific reduction in hours proposed at the branches is from 58 to 36 hours, there are no details as to possible methods for achieving this.  Usage differs in each area and there is confusion as to what such reductions would mean for each branch library.


The Friends groups, working with the librarians, provide a rich menu for everyone in the neighbourhood at a time when councils are removing support from many vulnerable groups. We feel strongly that the proposed changes would damage the Library Service to an unacceptable level, diminishing the requirement for a comprehensive library service under Libraries and Museums Act 1964.  We feel that you should be providing residents with viable alternative options for ways in which savings could be made without seriously diminishing the quality of the branch libraries.


FORE!  January 2016


Susan B. Chinn, Highgate Library Action Group

George Danker, Friends of Muswell Hill Library

Helen Riley and Joanna Bornat, Friends of Stroud Green and Harringey Library

David Bennie, Friends of St. Ann’s Library

Sandra Menzies, Supporters of Alexandra Park Library

Jasmin Taylor,  Friends of Marcus Garvey Library



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Marcus Garvey reopens Feb 2016

The following is to be found here:

Marcus Garvey Library
The works to refurbish and improve Marcus Garvey Library will get underway at the end of the summer.

The library will enjoy a £3million makeover, with a brighter, more spacious-looking layout, the replacement of ageing equipment and the introduction of customer service facilities alongside the full range of existing library facilities.

The library will close temporarily from the end of August while refurbishment takes place and is expected to re-open at the end of February
In the run-up to and during the closure we are providing updates on what is going on at the site. See below for the latest designs for the new-look library:

Relocated or alternative sessions
While the library is closed, users can visit the nearby St Ann’s or Coombes Croft Libraries for the usual range of facilities.

As of 6 September St Ann’s Library will be open on Sundays from 12pm to 4pm.

Activity sessions and meetings which take place at the library have been re-arranged at other libraries or centres:

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Marcus Garvey library has shut

The support group for Marcus Garvey library did a great youtube video.

It would appear though that it did not work.

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