Monday, 5 December 2011

A wonderful Gala Evening was held on Saturday 27th November. Historian and Biographer Helen Rappaport gave a fascinating overview of her new book 'Magnificent Obsession'. Drawing on unseen letters and diaries, she revealed the extent of Queen Victoria's obsessive love for her husband, even beyond his death. Artist, Weimen produced some excellent sketches, capturing the atmosphere of the evening:

The whole evening was made possible by the generous donations of food, gifts and time from Kennington's library supporters.  In particular we thank all those that gave up their time to organise and serve at the event, pictured here. Special thanks go to Dominique and Sylvia - without whom the event wouldn't have happened.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Join Kennington's Victorian Gala Evening

Saturday 26th November, 7.30pm
Historian and Biographer Helen Rappaport will be introducing her new book 'Magnificent Obsession' at Kennington's Gala Evening. Drawing on unseen letters and diaries, she reveals how Queen Victoria's obsessive love for her dead husband nearly destroyed the Monarchy.
Tickets are £12.50 including a 2 course meal (BYO bottle) available from Friend’s of Kennington Library 07809 054969, Mostly Books Abingdon or Kennington Library 01865 730763.
All proceeds raised by the event will support the future of Kennington Library. Therefore donations are much appreciated. Raffle prizes (Victorian Christmas themed if possible) or food for the Gala Supper will help raise money for the library. Please record your donations for the Gala dinner with the library staff or with The Friends of Kennington Library -

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Festival Success

Thanks to everyone that helped to organise, came to speak at and generously supported this year's fantastic literary festival!! It was a resounding success and wonderful demonstration of the local talent we are lucky enough to have in Kennington and Oxford. More details about the day will be posted in due course.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Please support Kennington Library by booking a seat at the Literary Festival

There are only a few days left to book your seats for this year's literary festival on 14th and 15th October.  We would really appreciate you booking in advance, but you can also book a seat on the door. 

The Festival begins with a film showing on Friday 14th October of the film The Ultimate Survivor, about the history behind the Ultimate Picture Palace cinema on Cowley Road.  
On Saturday 15th October, we have a full programme of activities including Kate Clanchy (Oxford's new city poet), Korky Paul (illustrator of Winnie the Witch) and Brian Aldiss (Science Fiction writer).

Click here to view the full programme. 
The Oxford Times have recently published a piece about the Festival. 
All proceeds raised by the festival will go towards supporting the future of Kennington's library.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Libraries Consultation - Please complete by 30th September 2011

The Friends of Kennington Library have submitted letters to the Library Consultation, arguing that whilst the councils revised proposal retained the library premises and book stock,  it still did not adequately support the services of Kennington library or of any of the other libraries in the lower groups where staff costs are proposed to be cut by 2/3. See this page for further details.

We have now been informed by the Library Consultation that it may be advantageous for residents of Kennington to fill in the Consultation form because the numbers of responses might be crucial in their assessment of the issues. Please look at this page for further details on how to go about completing the consultation.

Kennington Literary Festival 2011 - Programme now available

We have some wonderful local guest speakers lined up, as well as stands and activities for all ages, for this year's literary festival to be held on 14th and 15th October. Click here to view the full programme. 
Spaces will be limited so it is worth booking your seat. All proceeds raised by the festival will go towards supporting the future of Kennington's library.

Monday, 6 June 2011

The New Consultation is Here


The new consultation for the libraries was released at midday on 27th May and runs until 30th September.

The Campaign to Save Kennington Library and the Campaign to Save Oxfordshire Libraries have succeeded in saving Kennington Library, and indeed all Oxfordshire libraries, from closure, partly thanks to extra money that the government has provided.

But this would not have happened without the support of all of you in the village. Thank you and congratulations!

Contrary to the promises that the new consultation will consider all options and will consult with all affected parties, it lays down the decisions and conclusions of how the libraries will be run.

Levels of professional staffing will depend on the section to which a library is assigned. Core libraries will retain all funding; Community Plus libraries will lose a third of staff to be replaced by volunteers; the remainder will replace two-thirds of staff to be replaced by volunteers.

Kennington Library has been placed in the last group based on the radius of ½ mile; in other words, the library will need to replace two-thirds of the current staffing by volunteers.

Campaign Focus

We believe that Kennington Library has been unfairly banded, because of the shape of our village. The village is long and thin, sandwiched between the Thames and Bagley Wood, and so a ½ mile radius excludes a significant portion of the village. Kennington stretches from its northernmost point at Iffley Lock to its southernmost point at Sandford Lane. Stretching all libraries’ circles to a length of 1 mile raises Kennington 14 places in the library rankings.

This means that the focus of the Campaign to Save Kennington Library has changed. We no longer need to save the library itself; but we do need to save the services it currently provides.

If Kennington is placed in the Community Plus band, The Friends of Kennington Library feel confident that with additional annual fund-raising at our Literary Festival and some volunteering, we can continue to provide the full set of services and opening hours.


We are inviting our MP, Nicola Blackwood (who has already expressed an interest in speaking to us), and our councillor, Arash Fatemian, to meet with us to discuss the issue.

We may need your support in lobbying our elected representatives to support our case.

Please keep an eye on this blog or ask at your library for updates.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Working Party for Kennington Literary Festival

The Kennington Literary Festival raises money that helps to keep the library functioning.

Those of us on the working party of 2010 are meeting on Tuesday 10th May at 11 a.m. at Sylvia's place to kick-start the organisation.

It would be great to have a larger team but I know day-time meetings are not good for everyone. Our second meeting will be in June.

Would you be willing to join the working party? If so, please let Sylvia know convenient times.

Telephone Sylvia on 07809 054969 or 01865 739071.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

New threat to the Library

A new threat to the library has come about. The Village Centre might have a noise abatement order served on it. This would mean no amplified systems, from music to microphones. According to Paul Burton, this would mean many activities, including our numerous charitable events, leaving the Centre. The resulting price hikes on the few remaining activities would mean many of them leave, too...

Then the Village Centre would have insufficient funds and would have to close.

Please visit the Save Kennington Village Centre blog to find out more.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Keith Mitchell Scraps Plans for Closure

Good news, Keith Mitchell, Leader of the Oxford County Council has decided to scrap his initial plans to close libraries and instead is looking for new ideas to spread the cuts across all the libraries in Oxfordshire — see coverage in Oxford Times.

However, as the Summertown Library campaign blog states, the County Council is still not ruling out:
  1. Contracting out the library to a for-profit business. This has proved unpopular with many users in the USA and has limited experience in the UK. We are investigating this option.
  2. Implementing the impracticable concept of Community Libraries staffed by volunteers (a plan which most of our members believe will not work).
  3. Closing some libraries and curtailing library services.
  4. Introducing self-service schemes without librarians.
  5. Transferring libraries from existing buildings — some of which we suspect they plan to sell.
It is great news that all the campaign work has meant the Council is now rethinking its plans. Nevertheless we still await the consultation documents in order to see the tone of the discussion and new suggestions. These documents are planned to appear in May.

As the cliché goes, we have won the battle but not the war. We shouldn't allow this minor victory to distract us from our commitment to stop the closure of libraries in Oxfordshire.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

'Save Oxfordshire Libraries'

The 20 threatened libraries have together created a new group, with the unofficial title, Save Oxfordshire Libraries. Although we have been communicating for some time, this new group brings together the 20 existing library campaigns, in order to build a shared approach and jointly discuss decisions. We would like to involve all 43 libraries throughout Oxfordshire, as cuts affect everyone, but this is still early days.
In addition, we have had other organisations asking for co-operation, including Voices for the Library:
If you would like to give your occasional support, particularly in terms of time and expertise please do get in touch. The Save Oxfordshire Libraries group is currently looking for occasional volunteers for specific tasks. There will be no obligation or heavy commitment, so please do get in touch if you would like to offer your time:

The Campaign Continues

Although everything seems to have gone quiet, things are still happening behind the scenes.
We have been busy helping to establish a new group that brings together all the libraries in Oxfordshire currently threatened with closure called ‘Save Oxfordshire Libraries'.
We have also been researching alternative plans, such as the Council’s idea to allow an American company, Library Systems & Services (LSSI), to run the libraries as a for-profit organisation. We are still trying to find out whether LSSI is fully aware of what the libraries (especially the rural ones) do, and whether our services would continue in their current form. LSSI is not the only company looking at the libraries.
Another important point is that the government may be considering removing or changing the law that requires it to provide library services to the public. This is all very uncertain at this stage, so we cannot comment yet.
The Council has promised a (real) consultation starting in April, and has assured us that all options will be considered. This is an improvement—thank you again, Kennington Residents, as this would not have happened without your support—so we should be able to enter into meaningful dialogue with all parties concerned very soon. We will be in touch as soon as we have more news.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Photos from the Pied Piper Procession

We have some fantastic photos available from the Pied Piper Procession held in Kennington  visit this page for a selection of images.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Pied Piper Procession Success!

Thank you to everyone that showed their support for Kennington's library on Monday.

We had a great turnout and a noisy, colourful procession from St Swithun's School to the Village Centre. The line of people stretched practically half the distance that was walked.

On arrival the Village Centre was packed out with over 200 people, aged from two weeks to over 90 years. The children in particular were extremely passionate about supporting their library and should be praised for their behaviour on the day.

Short speeches were given by School Head, Mrs Evans and Rev'd Em Coley, about the importance of reading and community.

Over 600 letters and posters were presented to Keith Mitchell (leader of Oxfordshire County Council), who must have been impressed by the strength of feeling that the letter writing and event illustrated.

Korky Paul enthralled the children with a Winnie Witch story that involved lots of interaction. MG Harris gave a short but thrilling excerpt from the first Joshua Files book in the series. 

Keith Mitchell was given the floor to outline the background to the decision to make cuts and an update on the Council’s latest thinking. He explained that the cuts to the library budget are necessary and inevitable.  However, he does understand why there is such strong resistance to the closure of libraries and the County Council are currently in the process of considering alternative ways of cutting library budgets without closing them.

A packed hall witnessed Cllr Mitchell's promise that the consultation will be genuine and our suggestion of equal cuts will be considered. He also mentioned that they have been in talks with a US company who is proposing to take over the running of the libraries as they currently stand and this is being taken seriously.  So we have won our first victory-- the promise of a genuine consultation that takes alternative suggestions into consideration. Within this consultation we asked for the professional advice recommending the closure of these 20 libraries be scrutinised.

The event was covered on the BBC's 6 o'clock and 10 o'clock news on Monday. ITV sent a film crew and coverage is scheduled for the 12th Feb. The Oxford Mail have an article in today’s paper.

We thank all the people of Kennington for their extraordinary show of support. This shows that Kennington is a Village that stands together and, in the words of our Parish Council Chairman, Peter Biggs, "gets things done".

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Join the procession and get reading

Please do try to come along to the procession at 3.30pm on Monday whatever the weather!

We are pleased to say that we have reached our target of 500 letters for the handover - so thank you to everyone that contributed.

However, we really would like to prove how important the library is to our community by getting as many people to join the procession and read-in as possible.If you can bring a placard and a noisy instrument even better!

And don't forget to bring your library card and visit the library - we would like to have record numbers borrowing books on Monday.

Monday, 31 January 2011


Monday 7thFebruary at 3:30 pm, author M G Harris (The Joshua Files) and children’s illustrator Korky Paul (Winnie the Witch) will lead a Pied Piper procession from St Swithun’s School to the Village Centre. We are hoping it will be noisy so please bring instruments, drums, pipes and blowers for the procession. Then join us in the Village Centre for short readings and free tea & kids’ refreshments.

Even if you do not have a child at the school it would be great if you could still meet in the school grounds for the start of the procession around 3.20pm. We will need additional adult helpers and marshals because children are involved in the procession and they should all be accompanied by adults to make it safe otherwise it might not be able to go ahead. RSVP by email (letting us know how many adults and children can come).

We will have a handover of all the letters you have written to Keith Mitchell. Cllr Mitchell may not come, in which case we will do a symbolic handover to Korky and MG. We are still in the process of getting TV, radio and press to come. Bring your Library Card—you can borrow books from the Library while you are at the Village Centre!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

M G Harris helps out

As already mentioned, M G Harris is coming to help out the cause. MG has written a lovely entry on her blog. Do take the time to read it.

Be sure to join us after school at the Village Centre! (There will be free tea and kids' refreshments.)

The Philip Pullman Speech

On Thursday 20th January, Philip Pullman gave an outstanding and moving speech.

It's a long read, but well worth it.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Famous authors to come help!

Be at the Village Centre Monday 7th February at 4:00 pm!

Authors M G Harris (The Joshua Files) and Korky Paul (Winnie the Witch) are coming to help us with the handover and publicising of the letters to the council.

Bring your friends; bring your family; bring your children!

Be seen to support our Library, which the council has decided to close.

Be there to support our Village Centre, which may also close if the Library closes.

Remember that we still need more letters -- please print, address and sign a letter, then hand it in to the Friends table outside the Library. (If you have problems printing or downloading a letter, contact Paddy on 01865 429135 for help.)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Letter-writing to the Council

Many people have written letters to Keith Mitchell and handed them in to the library for us to deliver.

However, we do not yet have enough!

Please spread the word and encourage people to write letters. If you do not have time to write your own, just print the template of your choice, fill in your address and sign it, and hand it to our library (though a personally written letter would make a bigger impact).

Remember that if the Library closes, so too might the Village Hall -- maybe to be replaced with another large block of apartments!

The handover will take place Monday 7th February at 4:00 p.m. in the Village Hall (we invite you to come). But we need many more letters before that, if possible by Saturday 29th January (so we can prep the news media).

We have an exciting time planned for the handover; but more news on that closer to the date...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Does the Council want to divide and conquer?

At the Pullman meeting on Thursday 20th, Nick Squid warned against the council "playing one service against the other." Philip Pullman talked about a probable strategy of "divide and conquer."

The Kennington library campaign has suspected this for some time. Councillor Judith Heathcoat seemed to confirm this when one of our members attended the Berinsfield meeting recently. At the meeting, Cllr Heathcoat said that there was no secrecy about the figures (the costs of the libraries), and that if people emailed her or the future libraries address, the figures would be provided.

Our member pointed out that we had been asking for these figures for nearly a month and despite numerous emails and letters, she had given us precisely no information at all.

Cllr Heathcoat's reply was disappointing. Instead of promising to rectify the situation, she gave a short reply implying that our member had no right to be at the meeting, as Kennington had had its turn. Personally, I would have thought that the question would be highly appropriate for Berinsfield and indeed all other libraries.

That type of action appears (to me) to show that the Council is not interested in serving the people who elect and (through taxes) pay them, but rather to have their own agenda without a genuine consultation.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Letter to the Oxford Times

'Plain discrimination' Oxford Times, Thursday 20th January 2011
Sir – I was surprised to read Keith Mitchell’s letter (January 13) repeating what he wrote to you in December: “They must put themselves in the shoes of the decision makers and say where else that £2m can be saved, if not from library spending. Should it be from Fire and Rescue or children’s social care.” Save the Kennington Library Campaign responded to his earlier challenge and we were indeed sympathetic with the council’s situation. But as he obviously ignored our reply, I follow his example and repeat our main point. We are not suggesting that the library budget should not be cut. We are asking that the savings should be made in a different manner, in a fairer way.
He proposes increasing the budget of some hub libraries but closing 20 rural and suburban libraries. This is plainly discriminatory; rural dwellers pay their taxes in an equal manner; so the cuts should apply equally too.
We have responded to the encouragement of councillor Heathcoat to email future libraries with comments, questions and suggestions. I understand hundreds of people have taken up that offer, but those who have spoken to me have all received an automated response.
After the last cuts, Adderbury library formed a Friends Group to pay their librarian for the hours not funded by the council. Volunteers can help but a modern library service needs professional librarians I am sure Friends can rally in the hub libraries, too. There may be a better way of cutting the libraries budget than the one we suggest of cutting all 43 libraries by 20 per cent. Without the necessary data, any other suggestion on our part is just a guess. What we need is a genuine consultation.
Sylvia Vetta, On behalf of The Friends of Kennington Library

Successful public meeting in Kennington

An excellent campaign meeting was held on 14th January in Kennington Village Hall. Participants were given an update on the developments to the campaign so far and planned activities. We have made available the full minutes.

A key next stage in the campaign is to write as many letters as possible asking questions of Keith Mitchell that require a written response. You can download templates and further details. We ask that everyone adress and sign their letters, and return them to a box outside the library by 29th January. Please also ask any other people that you know in Kennington to do the same.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Unintended consequences

Here is another unintended consequence of closing the Library in Kennington. Rob Maggs, the Treasurer of the Kennington Village Hall, has sent us figures showing that fully 12.5% of the Village Hall's income comes from the Library.If the Library were to close, this would endanger the Village Hall, as it would be hard, if not impossible in these straitened times, to find the same regular and reliable source of income.

The Village Hall might have to close. Goodbye Tae Kwondo, Rosemary Connelly, Ballet Group, Junior Choir, Dancing Classes, local KADS shows, and so forth. Where would we hold our Parish Council meetings? Room for a Tesco in Kennington, anyone? (And what would be the knock-on effects of that? Goodbye local Post Office, perhaps?)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Savings, What Savings?

All proposed library closures are planned for cost cutting. One of our Friends has decided to make a simple calculation...

47% of Kennington Library's visitors are over 60. This means 5,824 visits to the library by the elderly each year. If these people do as Keith Mitchell insists and visit the Oxford Library instead, that comes to 5,824 bus trips that the Oxfordshire County Council pays for through concessionary fares. The cost to the Council is £2.40 for a round trip, making a grand total of just under £14,000 per annum.

Kennington Library costs £25,000 per annum to run, less income of £4,000, making a net cost of £21,000. Thus closing Kennington Library will save the Council a mere £7,000 per annum.

What other unintended consequences arise from closing the local libraries, I wonder?

Monday, 10 January 2011

Come to our Campaign Meeting this Friday

Please attend our Public Meeting on the campaign to stop the closure of Kennington Library. It will be held in Kennington's Village Hall this Friday (14th) at 7.30pm. The Friends of Kennington Library will give an update on the campaign so far and explain how you can get involved.

Join a Public Meeting against the library closures, with Philip Pullman

Oxford Anti-Cuts Alliance has called a public meeting with speakers including Philip Pullman about the proposed library closures in Oxfordshire on Thursday 20 January 2011, 7.30pm, Assembly Room, Oxford Town Hall. Further details can be found on the Oxford Save Our Services website.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

What can you do to help?

Email your views
If you wish to support Kennington Library, and indeed all 20 libraries, you may pass your comments directly to Cllr Heathcoat at, or to the official email address

Visit the library
As the closures depend partly on the number of people visiting the library, the best way you can show support is to visit the library during its opening hours (see the newsletter page 20) and either renew your membership if expired; or, if you took out either membership at a different library or before Kennington Library was computerised, change your membership to Kennington Library.

Become a Friend
You can support the Friends of Kennington Library directly by becoming a member. The Friends will be available during library hours from the 5th and at the meeting on the 14th to become a member or to renew your membership, which costs just £2 and pays the overheads for all the children and adult events for the year. (Alternatively, contact Sylvia on 01865 739071.) We thank the Parish Council and Village Hall Management Committee for their support and organising the meeting in December, with only a week to fill the hall.

Attend the campaign meeting on Friday 14th January
A campaign meeting will be held in the Village Hall on Friday 14th January at 7.30pm. The Friends of Kennington Library will give an update on the County Councils plans and our campaign. We will also explain how you can take part in the campaign.

The campaign to save Kennington library begins

The Council has proposed closing the 20 smaller libraries in the county including Kennington Library, and over 100 people attended the Parish Council Meeting in the Village Hall in December regarding this closure. Councillors Judith Heathcoat and John Jackson were present to explain that there would be a consultation, they had very few facts available yet, and the decision to close had already been proposed. The closures are scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. The Friends of Kennington Library have initiated a campaign to save Kennington Library and to work together with the other 19 libraries in an effort to save all of them. They will hold a public meeting in the Village Hall at 7:30 pm on Friday 14th January.