London: The Guardian Online, January 7th 2011.
"Brent is one of hundreds of councils planning to close public libraries in an attempt to meet huge cuts imposed by central government. Nearly 400 are threatened with closure, and with half of councils yet to announce their plans, the final number could be as many as 800 – a fifth of all libraries. One of those earmarked is Kensal Rise library. Housed in a comfortingly solid Victorian building, near a primary school on a quiet residential street, it was opened in 1900 by Mark Twain.
Caroline Bottomley, 49, has been going there for 12 years. "I walk down the road on my way home from the tube, and when I see those brass chandeliers twinkling in the windows, it feels like a homecoming," she said. "It's not just a library, it's such a big symbol of the community."
It is homely, with dark wood parquet floors, old-fashioned bookshelves, hushed voices. Students ploughing through their books, an older woman slowly turning pages of the Daily Mail.
Sara Levy, 39, sat with three-year-old Ella, colouring in Spot the Dog on a computer screen, with three-week-old Ava asleep on her chest. "It's the only local place you can come without spending money," she said. "It's local and friendly. And it's classless."