Doth protest too much

February 4, 2010

Much as one regrets Lancaster University's loss ("Researchers fear that early end to collection loan will hit REF standing", 28 January), Robert Appelbaum is too pessimistic when he suggests that students in northern universities won't have ready access to "a Shakespeare folio" in the future.

First Folios are still held in the permanent collections of three university libraries between Birmingham and the Scottish border. I can't speak for the universities of Durham or Manchester, but the First Folio is the hardest-working single book in Leeds University Library's Special Collections, where it is shown to a constant stream of visitors and university members of all kinds.

Anyone who has seen a student's awe in the presence of this uniquely inspirational book will understand Lancaster's disappointment, but the extraordinary - and secure - resources of major libraries in other northern universities must not be underestimated.

Chris Sheppard, Head of special collections, Leeds University Library.

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