Magazine article American Libraries

Budget Cuts Threaten British Library Services

Magazine article American Libraries

Budget Cuts Threaten British Library Services

Article excerpt

Facing a potential 7% cut in their [pounds sterling]100-million annual budget, British Library officials said in late January they could be forced to charge fees to use the reading rooms for the first time in the library's history. In a briefing paper to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, the administration is also proposing to slash opening hours by as much as a third, halt all public exhibitions and educational programs, reduce spending on all books and journals, and impose limits on its national newspaper collection.

British Library Chief Executive Lynne Brindley posted a statement on the library's website that says the library would make its best case for current funding levels, but "all commentators agree that the current economic climate dictates that this will be a tight settlement."

Lord Avebury, the Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords who forwarded the briefing paper to the Treasury, said in the January 29 Guardian that serious cuts would be "cultural vandalism," adding, "It is difficult to fathom the mind of a government that sets out to wreck a world-class public institution. …

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