A. D. Harvey (Letters, THES, July 18) writes about an instance when a book was unavailable for consultation in the British Library's reading rooms at St Pancras because it was out on loan.
The library operates a single collection. Material can either be consulted in its reading rooms or made available on loan. Therefore a reader may find, on occasion, when requesting an item, that it is out on loan. All requests are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of whether a user is in a reading room or working remotely.
The British Library provides access to its collections for researchers in its reading rooms, used by more than 430,000 people each year.
We also fulfil our obligation to people across the UK, through our loans service, giving far more researchers access to our collection than if we were just to operate a reading-room service.
Director of operations and services
The British Library