Crystal clear on library value

June 25, 2009

The consultation that is now demanded over the future of the University of London's institute libraries (Letters, 4 and 18 June) has already been done, in Sir Ivor Crewe's 2008 Review of Hefce Funding for Research Libraries.

Crewe concluded that the institutes form "a critical part of the nationwide research facilitation and promotion of the humanities and social sciences undertaken by the School of Advanced Studies, incur special costs and merit special funding".

There is little sign of this in the University of London's recently announced Option 1 rescue plan for its library network, with its ominous talk of "integration", "convergence" and "de-duplication, deselection and removal to store" of printed materials.

Crewe's central recommendation could not have been clearer: "Hefce should provide the school, including its libraries, with a stable long-term funding environment by means of special funding, which should be ... awarded explicitly for the purposes of national research promotion and facilitation in the humanities and social sciences, these purposes to be defined by Hefce in agreement with (it)."

Robert Poole, University of Cumbria.

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