"Dwarfed by a massive electric crucifix and surrounded by dusty portraits of saints, Zadie Smith sat on stage in the back room of a trendy, north London pub looking more like she had wandered into a secret revival meeting than become the figurehead of a campaign to save Kensal Rise library, her local. But when she began speaking it quickly became clear that her belief in community institutions, like that library, is stronger than any less earthly faith. "I can see that if you went to Eton or Harrow, like so many of the present government, it is hard to see how important it is to have a local library," she said, to very unlibrary-friendly cheers and whoops from the packed audience. "But then, it's always difficult to explain to people with money what it's like to have very little. "But the low motives [of the government] as it tries to worm out of its commitment ... is a policy so shameful that they will never live it down. "Perhaps this is why they are so cavalier with our heritage," she added. "The fewer places there are to find a history book these days, the better." Local libraries, said Smith, are "gateways to better, improved lives"