To casual passers-by, Kensal Rise Library in north-west London is just another red-brick, late-Victorian municipal building, noticeable only because it is slightly bigger and taller than the terraced houses of similar vintage surrounding it. If they paused to go inside, the brass plaque in the busy entrance hall announcing that it was opened in 1900 by the American author Mark Twain might just give this branch library a certain curiosity value.
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