Library letdown

July 18, 2003

The British Library's destruction of some of its collections isn't the only activity at Euston Road worthy of comment. ("Pulped books spark fury", THES, June ). The library was built to provide a place where scholars might, free of charge, examine books provided gratis under the Copyright Act or by donation, or else been purchased out of public funds.

But if one requests certain books, one is told they have been loaned out, for a fee, to other institutions and, when returned, will probably be loaned out again because fee-payers have priority. The BL seems to be at the heart of the inter-library loan scheme in sending books to other libraries but has long since given up obtaining books from other libraries for the people who use its reading rooms.

A. D. Harvey
London N16

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