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Mark Twain House and Museum lends its support to Kensal Rise Library campaign

PUBLISHED: 10:30 11 July 2012 | UPDATED: 13:01 18 July 2012

American author Mark Twain officially opens Kensal Rise library in 1900

American author Mark Twain officially opens Kensal Rise library in 1900

jan nevill

American trust appeals to Government ministers to reopen axed branch

The battle to save Kensal Rise Library has gone global after an American museum penned a letter to Government ministers calling for them to reopen the branch.

The Mark Twain House and Museum (MTHM), has appealed to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, to intervene following its closure by Brent Council.

American author Mark Twain opened the branch on October 13, 1900, and it was coincidentally closed 111 years later on the same date.

Mr Twain, who wrote a string of novels including Huckleberry Finn, donated five books to the branch at its opening and MTHM, which promotes the author’s legacy, have pledged to do the same if it is reopened.

Kensal Rise Library was closed alongside Preston, Neasden, Tokyngton, Crickelwood and Braham Library in a £1m cost-cutting measure.

Campaigners vehemently fought the proposals taking their battle to the High Court which ruled in favour of the council.

In the letter written by MTHM, which was also sent to the borough’s councillors, it states: “One of the assets of any city, any culture or any society great is its repository of knowledge. Mark Twain, the man we honour here at his home in Hartford, Connecticut, USA, knew this when he said: ‘A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.”

“The one thing Twain might not have anticipated a library having to survive is our current economy. Another of his wonderful quotes: ‘The lack of money is the root of all evil.’

“I understand, due to tight budget constraints, you have had to close or are considering closure of several libraries in Brent. This may seem necessary to bring shortfalls in budget in line. Being an American, I may not know the difference between a chip and a crisp or a loo and a lift, but I do know that closing a library is an Olympian decision where everyone loses.

“We all know that libraries are important, vital and essential to the livelihood of a community, especially a financially challenged one.

“If the community is anxious to have a reading-room it would put its hand in its pocket and bring out the penny tax. I think it a proof of the healthy, moral, financial, and mental condition of the community if it taxes itself for its mental food.

“I would heartily encourage you in your decision-making roles to reconsider the closure of libraries and find the means to reopen ones like Kensal Rise that may have already found themselves on the chopping block.

“What you are losing in a library cannot be replaced in a community. You are leaving a legacy, much as Twain left a legacy of five books when he helped dedicate Kensal Rise’s library.

“I pledge, on behalf of The Mark Twain House and Museum, to personally come over to Kensal Rise with another five books to donate at the rededication of this irreplaceable institution.”

For more information about the Mark twain House and Museum visit www.marktwainhouse.org.


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