Campaigners rally round to save Cricklewood library

Campaigners warn that closing Cricklewood library will leave vulnerable residents isolated, and without support

Campaigners have warned of the ‘devastating’ impact closing Cricklewood library will have on the community’s most vulnerable residents.

Charity workers, politicians and residents spoke out to oppose proposals put forward by Brent Council to shut the beloved reading room as part of plans to close half the borough’s libraries.

Speaking shortly after council chiefs announced the plans, Danny Maher, chief executive of Cricklewood Homeless Concern, said the move would heighten the isolation of some of the community’s most vulnerable people.

Mr Maher, who gave a talk about his work at the library in 2006, said: “Libraries are there to support education, learning and socialising.

“We work closely with Cricklewood library where they deliver books to us to enable our homeless people to regain their interest in reading and learning, and hopefully to move on to training and finding work.

“We deal with vulnerable people and they need that space and the opportunity to deal with their recovery. For them, not having a library lessens their ability to recover and create new opportunities for themselves.

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“That is a valuable connection and taking that away will take away more opportunities for homeless people to get back on track.”

Cricklewood library, in Olive Road, was founded in 1929 by All Souls College, Oxford, who donated the reading room to the area’s residents with a covenant which restricted its use to a lending library, reading room, or educational study.

Yet despite this protection, supporters have twice had to fight off attempts by the council to close it. In 1999, council chiefs backed down over plans to shut it after residents led a popular campaign to save it, and in 2008 All Souls College intervened to stop the council from adding a children’s centre to the site.

Eric Pollock, chairman of Friends of Cricklewood, studied at the library as a child during the 1930s before he began volunteering there.

Mr Pollock, a former Financial Times journalist, said: “The proposal is outrageous.

“Cricklewood library is at the heart of the community. It is a warm, pleasant place to be in and the staff know the people who use it very well. It has an intimate atmosphere.

“There is nothing else like it round here. The next nearest library will be in Kilburn. But that is too far for a young family or a pensioner to travel. If they close Cricklewood library people won’t make this journey, they’ll just stop using libraries altogether.”

Mr Pollock said he had heard ‘precious little’ from the council about the closure proposals, but vowed to fight them.

“We have got a petition and we are going to rally the public to fight for this cherished institution.”

Have you got any memories of the libraries earmarked for closure?

Will the proposed closures have a detrimental effect on your life? If so call the newsdesk on 0207 433 6244 or email