Barham Community Library opened after the public library, which had served the local community since 1952, closed in 2011. We spoke to Paul Lorber who was instrumental in the campaign to try and save the library and then to open an alternative community library service about the wonderful Barham Library.
Can you tell us how Barham Library was established?
A number of local residents had campaigned to keep the library open and formed the Friends of Barham Library so that we could establish an alternative community library service. Initially we only operated on a Saturday for 2 hours from a disused nursery building at Barham Primary School. When that was demolished, we moved into long standing empty premises in Wembley High Road and eventually successfully bid for our current premises, a 200-year-old building in Barham Park, at 660 Harrow Road where we moved in October 2016. Our library building is now used 7 days per week and I’m very proud of our Library, it is a ‘labour of love’.
What is Barham Library’s role in the community?
All of us who run Barham Library are volunteers and we provide a wide range of services and activities. We run a normal book lending service but also related activities such as a book club, English conversation classes, art club, local history club, storytelling and rhyme sessions for under-fives, a homework club, a chess club and much more.
We also make our premises available to other groups at affordable rates including a Muslim prayer group, a Tamil School, Lego club, a ‘Memory Lounge’ for people with dementia and their carers, a Nepalese ex Gurkha Group hold English classes, a knitting social group, we have 5 yoga sessions per week and numerous social events. We have also hosted theatre performances, history talks and local celebrations.
Who uses the library?
With the library opening its doors for use across the community, it is safe to say it is utilised by people of all ages and backgrounds. We have an open-door policy and welcome everyone from our diverse local community.
How can others help support what you do or get involved with the library?
We pay rent to Brent Council and need to meet the cost of service charges, utilities and running costs. Everything we do is done by volunteers and we raise money from various sources. We welcome new volunteers and constantly build partnerships with local groups and organisations. New volunteers to help run the library and our activities are always welcome. If you are interested in volunteering or helping in some way, just pop in and talk to us. We’d be delighted.
What do you like most about living/working in Wembley? Any favourite places or recommendations?
I love the diversity and Barham Park is a very beautiful place, although in need of some TLC, it has great potential. We helped raise money for improvements to the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Courtyard and the historic pond. I hope more will be done to attract more people to the Park and in turn to our Library, both favourite places for me.
If Wembley sounds like an area you would like to start your next chapter then the Wembley Parade development provides a selection of one, two- and three-bedroom homes. Call today on: 020 3308 9814 to find out more and to register your interest.