Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hidden Gems Are Being Put at Risk; Leading Expert's Fears at Cultural Sell-Off

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hidden Gems Are Being Put at Risk; Leading Expert's Fears at Cultural Sell-Off

Article excerpt

Byline: Keiran Southern Reporter keiran.southern@trinitymirror.com @@KeiranSouthern

Paul Gailiunas and below, Angela Forster, service manager for community health, libraries and parks TREASURED cultural gems could be lost in a town hall sell off, an expert has warned.

Cash-strapped Newcastle City Council plans to clear out much of the fifth floor of the City Library, with a team of specialists drafted in to sift through the tonnes of material before deciding whether to keep it, sell it or simply get rid of it.

The collection contains rare manuscripts and books that have been amassed over nearly 150 years.

It includes items such as complete set of the works of Sigmund Freud, different editions of Shakespeare's works and long runs of important periodicals, such as the Times Literary Supplement.

Once it has been cleared, it is hoped the council will be able to rent out the space, generating up to PS110,000-a-year.

But an expert has warned no matter how stringent the checks are, there is a danger cultural treasures could be lost to the city.

Paul Gailiunas, chairman of the well-respected Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society, pointed to a similar space-making exercise at the historic society, where mathematics and science books bequeathed by William Armstrong - Lord Armstrong's father - were unwittingly sold.

He said: "The difficulty the council will have is that to sort through the collection often you will need extremely detailed, specialist knowledge that may have disappeared.

"I am sure - absolutely certain - there are hidden gems in there that will turn out to have huge significance, but it takes a lot of time and knowledge to know that. They could be lost."

Mr Gailiunas added: "And there is the danger the city could lose out. History shows that when public bodies sell off their resources they do not always get what they are worth. …

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