Sunday, 28 May 2017

My initial observations and concerns re proposals to collocate Highgate Library and Jacksons Lane arts centre.





Highgate Library in Shepherds Hill, Haringey, is 110 years old and is housed in a lovely purpose built 'mock tudor' Edwardian building.

A few weeks ago an article appeared in The Stage announcing proposals to "merge" the library with the local Jacksons Lane arts centre.

On the 17/5/17 the 'Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG)' along with local councillors and architect Katy Marks hosted a "a round-table discussion", they then held their AGM on 24/5/17, among those who attended (invited to?) the AGM where the Leader of Haringey Council, Claire Kober, the Cabinet Member for Finance & Health, Jason Arthur and architect Katy Marks, so a pretty strong (heavy?) pro-merger presence.
The AGM from what I've been told was a lively affair with some on HLAG, including the Chair, seemingly keen on the proposals and others, including a HLAG committee member and a regular library user not so keen. In fact a vigorous opposition has emerged with a petition, twitter account (@HighgateStays) and FB page being set up. There have also been several articles in the local press.

I'm hoping to attend one of the consultation events taking place on 22/6/17 in order to hear more about the plans and to voice my concerns which at the moment are;

How far gone are the proposals? It seems that a lot of time and effort has been spent on this even before the so-called 'consultation' process has started with an Arts Council funding application submitted and an architect working on a feasibility study.

Is this just another Muswell Hill Library scenario with the council looking to sell off a valuable building?

Is this just another case of a 'third-sector' organisation, Jacksons Lane, muscling in on the cuts ravaged public sector in order to empire build?

What will the library service look like after the 'merger/collocation'? Will the arts centre be the dominant force and will the library end up as a provision and not a fully comprehensive service (a few shelves of books and some PCs with hub/arts staff rather than dedicated library staff)?

I also have serious concerns about the public perception of a library housed in an arts centre, this partly stems from the fact that most library services are linked with leisure/arts/culture rather than education/learning/information and are therefor easier to cut/privatise/undermine.

Anyway I'll try and attend the 'consultation event' on 22/6/17 and then hopefully have a better view of things after that?

For press coverage and further information see:

Fears grow in Highgate over 110-year-old library’s future home

http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/heritage/fears-grow-in-highgate-over-110-year-old-library-s-future-home-1-5032766

Highgate Library ‘being sacrificed’ in possible move to Jacksons Lane

http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/heritage/highgate-library-being-sacrificed-in-possible-move-to-jacksons-lane-1-5036626

Architectural Feasibility Study
https://www.jacksonslane.org.uk/blog/architectural-feasibility-study




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