Reel access

February 3, 2011

There are misconceptions about the British Film Institute's proposals for the relocation of its library from central London to its building on the South Bank. Namely, that this will result in restricted access to the collection, that the BFI is splitting its collections and that researchers will be forced to visit the BFI National Archive's Conservation Centre at Berkhamsted to carry out their work ("Fears of the cutting room floor: BFI plans alarm sector", 20 January). This is absolutely not the case.

The collections are already split. In Berkhamsted, we care for all of the film and TV material, all of the "special" collections and 20 per cent of the collection of books and other publications. The remainder of the material is kept in the BFI library in London. Under the proposal, we are looking to move the library to BFI South Bank and our intention is to move with it as much as possible of the existing collection to keep the library intact.

Some of the library materials are rarely used and could be held off site with little impact. Any material at Berkhamsted can be ordered and sent to London, generally with a 24-hour turnaround.

The intention is to improve access to the collections, not diminish it.

Heather Stewart, Cultural programme director (UK-wide), British Film Institute

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