Word from this morning’s Telegraph, that the British Library may be starting to charge scholars to use its reading room (yes the haunt of Marx and Dickens)
With a threat of cuts of up to seven per cent to its £100 million budget, money-saving measures are being lined up at the library, which has a collection of 150 million items. Opening hours would be cut by more than a third under the proposals. In a further symbolic blow, a reduction of 15 per cent would be made to the library’s permanent collection, which includes a copy of every book published in Britain.
The cuts would threaten spending on research journals and books, undermining 250 years of collecting and damaging Britain’s position in the world research rankings.
Making its case to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which will distribute the Treasury’s arts allocation later this year, the institution describes itself as the world’s greatest research library with a collection unrivalled in depth and breadth. It warns that a savings programmes could lead to the loss of the library’s world-class ranking, with consequential damage to the Britain’s research infrastructure.
The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Avebury said in a letter to Gordon Brown that funding cuts would be “a gross act of cultural vandalism”. “It is difficult to fathom the mind of a government that sets out to wreck a world class public institution — as you would do if the BL is forced to make these cuts.