Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The results are in

You may remember that back in March I set loose on the world a knitting pattern, designed by my own fair hand, for library-inspired fingerless gloves.  This was an entry in the LIS New Professionals Network library advocacy competition, but it was also a good excuse for me to devote some time to knitting. 

The results of the competition have now been announced, and I'm really chuffed to receive an honourable mention from the judging panel: it's seems unfair to be commended for something I had such fun doing!  The winning entries thoroughly deserve their success.  First place has been awarded to Jacqueline Barlow's That's Not Online project, and second place to Annie Johnson's Putting the Pieces Together advocacy-through-jigsaws scheme.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Threat of library closure at the British Museum

Oh dear. Very worrying news has trickled out from the British Museum. It seems that the Museum is considering closing its Paul Hamlyn Library.
Photograph of the British Museum Great Court, 'Shadow and Light' by scott1723 on Flickr
British Museum Great Court

This library is open to the public, to all visitors to the Museum.  It brings together resources relating to all of the cultures present in the Museum, to support both visitors' and curators' understanding of Museum artefacts.  The Library has a significant outreach role: it provides a children's library, school sessions, and lends out resource packs for families.  It also houses unique special collections and archival material: Museum guidebooks dating back to 1762, copies of Museum publications and exhibition ephemera, and a poster archive.

The Paul Hamlyn library moved into the famous round Reading Room in the centre of the Museum's main court after the British Library opened in the 1990s.  For the last few years it's been moved elsewhere as the Reading Room has been turned over to blockbuster exhibitions. New exhibition space is due to open fairly soon, and it had been planned for the Paul Hamlyn Library to move back in when the exhibitions moved out. With no Library to live in it, one worries about what might happen to the Reading Room in the long term.

There is little concrete information available about this threat.  There has been no public statement from the Museum, despite the apparent existence of a 90-day consultation period.  Everything I know about this I've heard from the Historic Libraries Forum (who are a great organisation, by the way, and you can be a member for free!).  Worryingly, it seems as though the Museum is trying to slip through this closure without many people noticing.  No-one seems to know, for example, when the 90-day consultation period actually started!

The HLF is trying to raise awareness of this threat as widely as posisble, and is asking you to write to the Director and Deputy Director of the Museum to express your concern about the loss of the library.  Closing the Paul Hamlyn Library would mean: the loss of services to the public, families and schools; the possible break up of a unique collection relating to the Museum and the collection it holds (including unique material), the loss of staff expertise; and an uncertain future for the iconic British Museum Reading Room.

Neil MacGregor, OM, FSA
Director of the British Museum
Great Russell Street
Dr Andrew Burnett
Deputy Director of the British Museum
Great Russell Street