Fears grow in Highgate over 110-year-old library’s future home
PUBLISHED: 12:54 24 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:08 24 May 2017
Visitors to a library which could move from its Highgate home after 110 years have called for a rethink.
In April Haringey Council announced that Jacksons Lane Arts Centre had approached councillors and the Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG) proposing to house the Shepherd’s Hill service.
But an online petition raising concerns that the community’s purpose-built library could be lost forever has so far gathered 160 signatures, 40 short of its target.
Petition organiser Tamara Cincik – who visits the library every week with her 6-year-old son – said: “I adore it. It’s a local hub. The staff are fantastic and really engaged with the community.
“It is at the heart of social mobility. Once it’s gone you can’t get it back,” she added.
Wendy Brandmark – who offered to resign from her voluntary position at HLAG over the proposals – said noise, conflict of usage and lighting make the proposed site unsuitable for a library.
“We would lose autonomy and become vulnerable to what they are vulnerable to. We’re being forced into this,” she added.
In response, Jacksons Lane’s chief executive, James Tilston said: “Any relocation would only go ahead if both parties were confident that it was in their best interests.
Commenting on the idea the library could become financially vulnerable, a Jacksons Lane spokeswoman said the centre and library are funded from different sources.
She said the arts centre had not made a loss in the last seven years, saw 200,000 people visit in 2016 and received funding from a range of sources including 10 per cent from the Arts Council and 42pc earned income.
She admitted the centre – based in a former church – was dark, but commented that architects had been instructed to address this in plans to adapt the building.
“This is a fantastic opportunity if it’s feasible. It’s about saving a library service and making it fit for the 21st century,” she said.
A Haringey Council spokeswoman said: “We support the essential role that libraries play at the heart of our communities.
“The proposals are still in the early stages, but we’re clear that they will only go ahead if we’re confident they can deliver an improved library for residents.”
HLAG declined to comment during an ongoing consultation.