Friday, 16 January 2015

Mill Hill Library and me

Mill Hill Library has been threatened with closure or cuts by Barnet Council, along with Burnt Oak, East Finchley, Childs Hill, Osidge and South Friern. On Wednesday evening I went to a packed and lively meeting to discuss this threat:  Save Mill Hill Library

The first books I can remember borrowing from Mill Hill Library were the coloured Fairy Tale books by Andrew Lang when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Then when I was at Hornsey College of Art, it was fine art books that I borrowed. After I graduated and became an author/illustrator I searched Mill Hill's shelves every week for folk tales, myths, legends and picture references. I also gave talks to the children in the Junior Library Club about my artwork and books.

THE LITTLE MOHEE was my first published picture book. In Mill Hill Library I researched American folk songs for the text. Then I needed pictorial reference for the illustrations:  Native Americans, 18th century costume, English wood cuts,  canoes and sailing ships.

Libraries are the centre of any community, open to young and old, rich and poor. I could not have become an author or illustrator without Mill Hill Library. What will become of Mill Hill without its library? Not a place I would want to live in. Libraries have proved a soft option for cuts. There is no government political will to save them, so councillors feel they can do as they please. Libraries should have an increase in their budget not a decrease. They are an important part of the education system in Britain, not a means for shaving a few pence off the council tax. Here is a link to a petition to save Barnet libraries: Save Barnet Libraries