Brought to book

December 24, 1999

One result of increasing penury in our crumbling public library system has been unrestricted rises in charges for book reservations. Once pegged at the cost of a second-class stamp they now vary hugely - depending on the whim of the local authority and on the book's availability - from less than Pounds 1 to more than Pounds 5 (Library Association figures).

This is hardly in keeping with Andrew Carnegie's notion of "free libraries", and it is a matter on which culture secretary Chris Smith could and should act.

The huge resources of university libraries remain jealously guarded from the public - except in Sheffield, where the lucky locals enjoy almost total access.

Why doesn't the culture secretary force the two systems to amalgamate?

If local authorities and universities insist on behaving as businesses rather than institutions, then they should not balk at customers demanding a more effective service.

Barry Tebb


You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns