Cash for answers

September 2, 2005

For researchers in the arts and humanities, libraries are an important "non-laboratory estates resource" ("Ill-prepared institutions may miss out on cash", August 26). When the libraries are of national importance and funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, preparation for full economic costing ought surely to include ensuring that the projected costings for new library buildings are completed, that the alternative options are considered and that the viability of the plans assessed before a huge sum of money is spent.

I, like many others, am worried that Oxford seems to be rushing into the building of a Millennium Dome in Osney Mead, into which it proposes to move a high proportion of its books. I sought this summer to use the Freedom of Information Act to find out whether the sums had been done. The figures are not forthcoming. The university refuses to answer any more FoI requests. An irrevocable decision to go ahead by approving the allocation of the site for the depository is timetabled for October 18. I hope Hefce is reading this.

G. R. Evans
Cambridge University

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