Community Fights Closure of Mark Twain’s Library
Kensal Rise Library, a public library in London, was founded by author Mark Twain in 1900. The library has served as a resource for nearby schools and the reading community, but the doors have been locked for more than a year due to budget cuts. When municipal workers arrived on Wednesday to clear the remaining books from the shelves, community members blocked the doors so that they would be unable to enter.
“This library could be lost to everyone and could be turned into flats or knocked down — we don’t know,” said Jodi Gramigni, who joined the protest in hopes of saving the library (USA Today).
Kensal Rise Library is one of six libraries closed because of the 50% budget cuts. Council members voted to close the libraries in order to divert remaining funds into a library in a civic center that receives more visitors. For now, volunteers have established “a small free-loan library outside to distribute books to the community” (MSNBC).
Local author Maggie Gee wrote an essay about Kensal Rise Library in support of keeping it open, which describes the benefits the library brings to the community and a history of how Mark Twain came to establish it. To those who want to preserve Mark Twain’s library, she says:
The Library was the culmination of a big attempt to improve a very poor area in the last decade of the century, as housing became denser… Kensal Rise Public Reading Rooms made newspapers, and later books, available for everyone to read.
Come along and enjoy the Library — it belongs to all of us. If you’re on Facebook, join our “Save Kensal Rise Library” Facebook group. Mark Twain said, “Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly so often.”
Photo credit: CCAC North Library