Thursday, February 01, 2007

British Library under threat

In The Telegraph, Sam Leith states the case for the defence of the British Library.
Nobody who uses the British Library in St Pancras can have read this weekend's reports on the subject without horror.

Facing the prospect of a seven per cent cut in its £100 million annual budget, the library has announced (not without a certain amount of calculation) that it might have to start charging readers for entry, reduce its opening hours, and/or – most horrifying of all – cut its collection of books and manuscripts by 15 per cent.

The British Library is an absolute paradise on earth. It is warm, clean, comfortable, accommodating and quiet. Its on-site catering, like its wireless internet access, might be extortionately priced and only intermittently satisfactory. But what it is supposed to do, it does – and does so brilliantly it could make you weep.

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