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Camden Public Libraries Users Group was formed early on 1998 in response to the threats to Camden's library Service. Our aims are to reverse the long-term decline of the Borough's libraries and to help ensure the best possible library provision for the people of Camden


Branch Libraries
with Users/Friends Groups
Belsize Park
Chalk Farm
Kentish Town
St Pancras

West Hampstead

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Photograph from the book LIBRARY: THE DRAMA WITHIN
by Diane Asseo Griliches, Univ. of New Mexico Press 1996
With kind permission

© Clair Drew and CPLUG 2000
Last updated July 2001


As an umbrella organisation, representing individual user groups campaigning to fight library closures,CPLUG needed to raise its public profile. It also needed funds desperately.


In December 1998, only nine months after inauguration, CPLUG held a concert at St. Mark`s Church, Primrose Hill. Thanks to the musical connections, family and friends of Chair, Tom Selwyn (himself a Camden Choir singer), the church was packed. The choir was in fine voice. They were followed by the soloist Tamas Fejes playing Bach`s Violin Concerto in E major with the Spring Ensemble, consisting mainly of students from London music colleges. The climax of the concert was actor, Denis Quilley`s narration of Prokofiev`s Peter and the Wolf.

This successful event was an opportunity for a spirited call from Tom Selwyn to support CPLUG in its fight to halt the proposed library closures. The reponse not only gave CPLUG the funds to keep on campaignin g. It also resulted in grass roots and press publicity.


A year later, in December 1999, CPLUG held a benefit gig at the Jazz Cafe in Camden Town.This great venue was provided generously by the Jazz Cafe proprietor. Again, CPLUG members, contacts and friends set up the organisation. However, Simon Inglis, author,Chairman of Friends of West Hampstead library and drummer with Otis and The Elevators played a major role. He got the three bands -all volunteers- together. He secured Greater London radio broadcaster Robert Elms as host and produced very professional `jazzy` posters.

Quote from his press release 'Nu-Skin - one of London`s hottest new bands . . . . moody-magnifico country rockers, Aftershave . . . Otis and the Elevators - sounds from vaults of psychodelia and vinyl-dom'

The place was packed, mainly a young crowd but a fair sprinkling of pensioners . This was an unusually welcome sight. Profits from ticket sales (Ј6 or Ј8) and a raffle all went to CPLUG.

BOTH OF THESE EVENTS helped to put CPLUG in the black so that it could undertake its serious business. In particular, it had the funds to carry on its research, lobbying and helped finance the seminar DO PUBLIC LIBRARIES HAVE A FUTURE at the London School of Economics.

However, there were many other spin-offs from having major focussed events. In particular, it provided a big peg for local press publicity. It involved many volunteers all of whom, by word-of mouth were spreading the word. Both concerts were lucky in having many generous performers who, not only gave their time and skill, but helped to sell tickets to friends and relations. Individual library user groups in Camden also helped with publicity; there were notices all over Camden and, of course, in every library..

Probably a total of over 600 came to the concerts. They included the young, the old, musicians, students, library staff and councillors..They showed that concern about public libraries is not only for old fuddy-duddies - a common misconception. Widespread support is tremendous.


There have also been music initiatives by individual local user groups which are affiliated to CPLUG Belsize PLUG has been very active. The chairman writes:

Sunday 21st November 1999 saw the birth of an exciting venture thanks to the generosity of the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust. That afternoon the Emperor String Quartet (young professional players) gave a concert for children up to the age of eleven. The instruments were explained and children were able to try their hands on specially `designed-for-beginners`violins and cellos.Tickets cost Ј2 for an adult and Ј1 per child. That concert was so oversubscribed that a second `sitting` had to be arranged at 5pm.

In May 2 2000 Cavatina presented `New Noise` with hands on experience of percussion and oboe in a noisy hugely enjoyable session. The Cavatina Music Trust, in association with Wigmore Hall Education Department aims to attract young people to Chamber Music

Another music project in Belsize Library is at the advanced planning stage. Wigmore Hall`s new musical outreach programme `Chamber Tots in the Community` is linking up with a nearby nursery to introduce this even younger age group to the `thrill of live classical music`. Who knows, some budding conductors might emerge. Staff at the nursery will benefit from a close relationship with Wigmore Hall`s education officers. And, of course, these under-fives will spot many books in their own corner of Belsize Library after the music.

Chalk Farm Library PLUG regularly helps to organise carol singing by school children to old people each year.

The Friends of Highgate Library held a fun meeting with a barber shop quartet