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14 November: Author Will Self to visit occupied Friern Barnet Library, near the setting of his latest novel, Umbrella


Will Self is to appear at recently liberated Friern Barnet Library at 7pm on Wednesday 14 November, to read from his most recent novel Umbrella, which has been short-listed for the 2012 Man Booker prize. Now run six days a week (11am to 7pm) by members of local community and supporters of the Occupy movement, following closure due to ‘cuts’ by Barnet Council in April as part of the campaign to force the Council to preserve the library service.

Born and raised in East Finchley, and is a prolific writer, media personality and respected thinker. At the Library, Self will read from Umbrella – his latest book described in the Observer as possibly his best work and “to use the literary critical term of art, kind of amazing”. He will also lead a question and answer session, and sign copies of his book, which will be available to buy on the evening thanks to the Big Green Bookshop. Umbrella has a special relevance to Friern Barnet as it is set in Friern mental hospital (now Princess Parkmanor apartments).

Well-loved and much-needed centre of local life, the occupied Friern Barnet Library has been  enthusiastically supported by the community, schools and various local groups with more than 8,000 books donated since reopening. The occupation of the library is a direct action that has highlighted the massive community support for Friern Barnet Library.

Local resident Emily Cope said: “The reopened library has totally invigorated the area, and we are all absolutely thrilled that Will Self has agreed to visit and support the library. It is a huge morale boost to the community, who have been fighting for so long to keep this building and the library here in Friern Barnet”.


Barnet Council has started legal proceedings to evict the groups and wishes to continue its plan to sell the building and surrounding land in the near future. Despite this legal challenge, the support is stronger than ever. Friern Barnet Library is not just a place to borrow books (we have over 8000 now!) but it is also a community space which offers free activities to all.





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