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Issue #1898      December 11, 2019

Restoration of Marx Memorial Library

A fundraising appeal to help renovate the Marx Memorial Library in London will be officially launched this week after the building sustained serious damage following a flood. The library’s collection of 60,000 books was put at risk on September 24 after heavy rainfall led to water gushing through the building.

Library staff and trustees will launch a “Lenin 150” fundraising campaign appeal on Friday, with the aim of raising US$65,000 by April 22, 2020, Vladimir Lenin’s 150th birthday.

The Marx Memorial Library and Workers’ School was founded in 1933 to advance education, knowledge, and learning in all aspects of Marxism, the history of socialism, and the working-class movement. It has been a key institution of the British labour movement since that time and houses a vast and unique collection of materials, including archives related to the Spanish Civil War.

In addition to being an institute for research, it regularly hosts online and on-site educational programs and exhibits.

The building itself, called Marx House, was built in 1738. It has been the home of a variety of institutions, including a radical press funded by socialist William Morris that published the newspaper, Justice. From 1902-03, Lenin worked in the building, publishing several issues of his newspaper, Iskra (The Spark), from there.

The fundraising event scheduled for December 6 will also pay tribute to the volunteers, the London Fire Brigade, and Islington Heritage staff who came to the library’s rescue after the flood.

Archivist and library manager Meirian Jump said: “In our time of need, Marx House was full of willing volunteers doing everything from mopping up to offering expert collection care advice. It was wonderful and overwhelming, but more than anything it demonstrated to us what this place – our history, our archives, and our education work – means to so many.

“But this is just the beginning. What happened on September 24 has highlighted the need for an urgent program of works to restore our historic building, protect our collections, and transform access to Marx House.”

Morning Star

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