Friern Barnet Library is expected to be handed over to a community group tomorrow after five months of occupation by squatters.

After weeks of negotiations, Barnet Council looks set to announce the Friern Barnet Library Community Group as the new landlords of the popular building.

Squatters currently occupying the Friern Barnet Road premises are preparing to “ceremonially” hand over the keys to the community group at midday.

Barnet Council has so far said its discussions with the nine members will be held in private but the group has publicly stated it expects a licence to be formally agreed tomorrow.

Squatters have occupied the empty building since September and have helped a number of community groups reopen the library with more than 8,000 donated books.

A possession order was granted to the council in December but the authority said it would be willing to discuss a community takeover before evicting any of the occupiers.

The Friern Barnet Community Library Group, made up of nine local residents, campaigners and retired librarians, was set up last month as a limited company to begin discussions with the council.

It is thought the authority has agreed a two-year licence with the group which, if correct, would mean the popular building is no longer put up for sale on the private market.