A group of squatters have entered and re-opened a library in North London. Entering through an open window at the Friern Barnet library, the squatters have set up a manual book loaning system and, contrary to expectations, the local council has actually engaged in dialogue to see how the library can remain open in its new, squatter-run incarnation.
UK law regarding squatters’ rights changed signficantly on September 1st, basically making squatting of residential properties illegal. Many squatters have therefore started seeking out non-residential sites, and this seems to have partly motivated the decision to take over the Friern Barnet library. The local council had apparently been looking to find a way to re-open the library via volunteer organisers; now it seems that squatters have taken matters into their own hands.
Residents of the local area have been campaigning for some time to get the library re-opened, and many have now welcome the squatters’ move. With public funds being increasingly withdrawn from library projects, communities are having to face a stark choice: either accept a vastly down-graded service, or find novel ways to get things up and running again. In the case of Friern Barnet, they seem to have chosen the latter course of action.