ABOUT THE FRIENDS
West Hampstead Library is a wonderful community resource, funded by Camden Council and operated by a dedicated staff of librarians and assistants. West Hampstead would be much the poorer without them.
But we all need friends, especially when times are tough, and in common with so many public amenities in the borough, the library has been subject to repeated threats over the past two decades – cuts to staffing levels, cuts to the book stock, cuts to services and, not least, the very real threat of permanent closure.
It was in response to one of the most serious threats that in 1998 Councillor Flick Rea organised a public meeting, at which the Friends of West Hampstead Library (FoWHL) was formed with the backing of over 400 library users and local residents. After a concerted campaign, and with the support of all local councillors in the area – but at the time, not the local MP – the library was saved from closure.
Since then there have been a number of success stories. The library has been refurbished twice – both the interior and exterior – as reported in our history section, and with the help of FoWHL it has taken on a much more central role in local life, especially as a forum for cultural events. Among FoWHL's contributions have been the following:
• we sponsored a weekly Story Time session in the Children's Library
• we donated a new library clock to celebrate our 20th anniversary
• we donated a PA system for community use in the library
• we donated a set of folding chairs for use during events
• we contributed towards the renovation of the exterior noticeboards
• we contributed towards the smartening up of the planter boxes outside the library
• we have organised and assisted dozen of events at the library featuring an array of authors, actors, journalists and musicians.
However we can never rest easy. Since 1998 there have been two further attempts to downgrade services at the library. The most recent of these emerged in July 2015, when Camden announced that as a result of the Government reducing its grants to local authorities, the Council would need to slash £800,000 from its annual library budget. Following a public consultation and a heated meeting of users at the library in September 2015 – reported here – Camden councillors agreed a package of measures, all of which will undoubtedly affect West Hampstead over the period 2016-18.
While these measures do not (to date) include the closure of the library, FoWHL remains concerned that this seemingly continuous process of downgrading will result in a much reduced service.
AIMS OF FOWHL
The Friends of West Hampstead Library has three main aims:
• to promote West Hampstead Library as an essential part of the local community
we do this by organising events and raising awareness of the library's assets
• to support all efforts to provide a comprehensive library service
we do this by keeping an eye on all developments concerning the library, by supporting campaigns to defend library services, and by liaising with other library user groups in the borough
• to foster good relations between the library, its staff and all users
we do this by regular liaison with the staff and by representing the views of library users
FoWHL is run by a committee which meets every few
months. Its officers are elected annually at an AGM, and are currently:
Chair: David Stevenson
Treasurer/Secretary: Christine Marchant
Minutes Secretary: applications sought
Other members of the committee are:
We are also hugely grateful for the efforts of our regular helpers: Simon Inglis, Jody Graham, Janet Peddar and Jackie Spreckley and to our esteemed patron, Jim Carter
To contact the FoWHL Committee click here
FoWHL members gather in March 2011 for yet another battle to stave off cuts to the library service. The group has been grateful over the years for all the support it has received from a number of quarters, not least local councillors and the many wonderful authors, actors and performers who live locally. Several local businesses have also been great supporters, especially West End Lane Books. Such is the strength of feeling for our beloved library.
LOVING THE LIBRARY
'West Hampstead library is a fantastic resource for business people like myself, with free wifi and competitively priced printing – it's brilliant for when you need to concentrate on a complex tender or document review and don’t wish to be disturbed!'
Mike Hagar local resident / businessman