Chipping Barnet Library was closed today.
I almost walked into the doors, still hoping that they would sweep open but they do not move.
They remained stubbornly closed.
The librarians of Barnet are taking industrial action this week (on Monday at Mill Hill Library, on Tuesday at North Finchley and today at Chipping Barnet) against the proposed cuts to their service. This youtube they’ve made explains why.
I met Stephanie who thought the library was open today, at the entrance.
I asked her if she came to this library often.
“All the time. Avidly. Voraciously,” she replied. “I’m a great reader. I come here about two or three times a week.”
We sat together on the bench outside the entrance to ‘sun our brain cells,’ as Stephanie put it.
“This is a purpose-built building,” Stephanie told me. “There’s space for reading, computers …” She gestured to the space beyond the doors.
“I can’t understand why reading is seen as elitism these days. Surely it should be something we are encouraging everyone to do. Don’t they want to do that anymore?
And another thing, I like to read and enjoy a book but I don’t necessarily want to keep it forever. Even if I lived in Buckingham Palace, I wouldn’t have enough room for all the books that I have read. In a library, someone else can enjoy it too.”
“I’m very much in favour of this strike. I went on a strike a few years ago and we marched up Barnet Hill. That was how much we meant it,” Stephanie told me, with a smile.
While we sat there, a man came with a bagful of books to return and a boy, still in school uniform, tried the doors.
“I came to use the computers. I’m in Year 10 and I’m doing my mocks next week,” he told me.
He stopped for a moment after we spoke, unsure of which way to go, before he walked away.