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Friends of

Highgate Library

MARCH 2010

Fabian Watkinson, Acting Chairman, writes:
The reorganisation of Camden's libraries is taking longer than originally thought. This has only prolonged the uncertainty for members of staff, many of whom have been put in the unhappy position of having to compete for the same job with their colleagues. Katharine Chasey, our current library manager, will be taking early retirement at the end of March. We have all enjoyed working with her and wish her well for the future. She will be much missed.

There now isn't enough money to rearrange the library counter or to smarten the interior as planned, but there will be a reordering of the books with new signs. Some good news is that Camden has now appointed architects to supervise the reinstatement of the terracotta urns on the parapet and the wrought-iron lampholders which used to flank the entrance steps, so this will now definitely happen, but probably not immediately. Our thanks go to Cllr Adrian Oliver for his work in continuing to push this through.

The AGM on 25 March is a time for everyone to think seriously about joining tile committee and helping the Friends with their work. The cuts in government spending which are looming on the horizon will make all public services very vulnerable, so the work of the Friends to preserve and improve the quality of our library will be even more important than ever.

December 10 2009 . Ann Wroe Writing Obituaries

A friend indeed. This was Ann's third visit. Ann has many years experience as a journalist on the Economist. She has written several biographies including her highly -acclaimed volume on Shelley. Now, Obituaries Editor of The Economist, she has recently co-authored The Economist Book of Obituaries.

It was fascinating to hear how this job is done. The magazine has no prepared obits There is considerable free rein in the difficult choice of subjects (not only the great and good) and a ration of only one each week. Timing is important for a weekly magazine. The question on waking each morning "Who has died?" How long is there for the research? There's an art in writing well to deadline and space, doing justice to the individual but also enlivening it with quirky details. Some of us were lucky to buy one of the few copies there. A book of obituaries may not sound a bundle of fun but this often is - and a happy, valuable reminder of interesting people in the times which we have lived through but may have half- forgotten.

February 4 2010. Heart on the Left
The Children's Library was the unlikely venue when, led by Sasha Mitchell, respectable local residents sang ribald songs. We were celebrating the life and work of her father, Adrian Mitchell, the poet, novelist and playwright who died recently. He was a renowned, outspoken and fearless committed anti-war campaigner.

Celia, Adrian's wife and actress, included part of his essay 'Imagination' in her readings and insights. Jane Shallice recalled Adrian's commitment to anti-bullying and Sasha read his powerful poem about playground fears. We had a masterly performance from Roger Lloyd Pack ( great fun on Shakespeare), actress Diana Quick and Jehane Markham who as a young girl knew Adrian, and was encouraged by him in writing her own poetry. Actor/director, Richard Williams recalled, amusingly, how he worked with Adrian at the Liverpool Everyman in 1973. Actor, Sylvester McCoy, sang and played the spoons with vigour.

Singer Matthew Prendergast joined Sasha in the final rumbustious song and we all joined in. Adrian's words rang loud and clear with his politically-charged humour, empathy for the weak and condemnation of the failings of the powerful.

What a great man. How generous of all these talented people who knew and loved Adrian to remind us, so brilliantly, of his work.

Caitlin Davies Thursday, 20 May 7.30 pm.

Local author Caitlin Davies will be discussing the writing life: from historical 'who dunnits' to memoir writing, from safari sagas to the cult of celebrity. She will also be talking about her latest novel, a fictional account of two infamous Edwardian baby farmers.

Annual General Meeting Thursday March 25th
Our AGM speaker will be Dan Carrier, a journalist on our local paper, the Camden New Journal, who will talk about local issues and the importance of having a local press. This will be preceded by a short business meeting with brief reports on the year's work. This meeting includes elections to the Committee. Current officers and committee are listed overleaf. Nominations to the Committee are welcome. You can do this beforehand by sending a nomination to the secretary of FOHL c/o Highgate Library or in person at the AGM.

Membership renewal
Membership renewals are due in March. Current subscription is £5 (concessions are £1). You can pay by cash or cheque, please make it payable to Friends of Highgate Library. Donations are always welcome and many of you choose to add something at this time. Thank you for your continuing support.

Our main expenditure is on our activities: the newsletters, hiring the library for events and giving prizes at Brookfield school for the children who have made most progress in reading in the previous year.

You can bring your subscription to the AGM on March 25th, OR you can leave it at the library in a sealed envelope for Linda Lefevre, Hon. Treasurer FOHL, OR you can deliver it to her at 35 Dartmouth Park Road NWS 1SU.

Why not tell your friends and neighbours about FOHL and encourage them to join? Our library is a unique public space with a proud history of providing a local public service for the whole community. As well as using the library, joining FOHL is another way of supporting it. Members receive a quarterly newsletter with news about the library and advance notice of our meetings and other events.

Membership forms are in the library entrance area on the FOHL notice board.

Margot Kafno reports*

We hold our reading groups every four or five weeks in the library on Friday afternoons where we read and discuss a wide range of books. Last month we looked at a lovely book by Ruth Waterman called 'When Swan Lake comes to Sarajevo1 and our next one is 'The Outcast1 by Sadie Jones. Our meetings are relaxed and the atmosphere friendly - even when there is a difference of opinion! We end the session with tea and biscuits while we discuss what we plan to tackle next. Although we have enough members at present, we keep a waiting list so do contact us if you are interested in joining.
Margot Kafno 7267 5565 Ann Lewis 72721722

Highgate Library Opening Hours
The library is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10-7pm
Saturday 10-5pm
You can renew your books at any Camden library, by telephone (Highgate 020 7974 5752) or online.


c/o Highgate Library, Chester Road, N19 SDH
President Roger Lloyd Pack Vice-President Bert Humberstone
Acting Chairman: Fabian Watkinson
Hon. Secretary: Margot Kafno
Hon. Treasurer: Linda Lefevre
Committee: Sarah Carrier, Natalie Doyle, Andy Edwards,
Enid Evans, Alice Gutkind, CUr. Adrian Oliver,
Sally Thompson
Patrons: Hunter Davies and June Rose