Kensal Rise Library sale branded 'scandalous' by campaigners

Protesters outside Kensal Rise library in 2011
Image caption Campaigners fought a high-profile but unsuccessful attempt to keep Kensal Rise library open

It would be "scandalous" if an Oxford college went ahead with the sale of a London library, protesters have said.

Kensal Rise Library was closed by Brent Council in the spring with ownership reverting by law to All Souls College.

A spokesman for the college said it was in talks with a property developer to continue library services and had offered grants and deals over rent.

Margaret Bailey, of Save Kensal Rise Library, said: "It's within their power as a charity to gift it to us."

She added: "This is a windfall for the college, as they're making a million quid out of our library.

"They were getting nothing from that building for over 100 years and now the college and the developer both stand to make a lot of money over the interests and wellbeing of this community.

"If it closes it would be awful for this community and it would be scandalous."

Celebrity support

The campaigners, who have raised more than £80,000 in their bid to keep the library open, have organised a protest outside the Oxford college on Saturday.

Image caption All Souls College donated the land in Brent for the library in 1900

Kensal Rise Library, in north-west London, was opened by American author Mark Twain in 1900 on land donated by All Souls College.

It shut along with five other libraries run by Brent Council, which first announced the closure plans in April 2011, as the authority aimed to achieve £104m in savings.

The protest against the closures was supported by author Philip Pullman, playwright Alan Bennett, singer Nick Cave and bands Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Goldfrapp.

But campaigners lost a series of court battles against the plans, with the High Court rejecting their claims the council's decision to close the libraries was "flawed and unlawful", the Court of Appeal upholding that ruling and the Supreme Court refusing the right for a further appeal.

'Practical solution'

A college spokesman said it had no part in Kensal Rise library's closure and regretted the decision.

It has offered the library a £25,000 grant, rent in full for the first five years of operations, and rent subsidies for an additional 15 years, "so long as library services continue in the buildings".

The spokesman added: "The college is therefore working towards a positive and practical solution which will enable library services to be provided again on a sustainable basis to the residents."

But Ms Bailey said space set aside for the library was insufficient.

She added: "There's no room for computers, study space, or for community activity and fundraising.

"The library is the centre of this community, there's not many other facilities around here.

"The protest will give them an idea of how much the library means to us."

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