Keele asked to pay back books grant

January 15, 1999

Keele University has been forced to hand back a British Library grant for binding rare mathematics books whose sale has angered academics.

The library recalled the Pounds 10,000 grant after Christmas when it heard that Keele had sold a collection donated by the late civil servant, Charles Turner.

It said Keele had breached the conditions of the 1988 grant from the Wolfson fund for cataloguing and preservation. A spokesman said: "The conditions of the grant were that if the books were sold we had the right to reclaim the money. Keele agreed to give back the money immediately."

Academics are campaigning to stop international book dealer Simon Finch from taking the collection abroad. A petition raised by David Singmaster, retired professor of mathematics at South Bank University, has gone to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Signatories include academics and librarians from the Wellcome Institute, the London Library, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Science Museum, and Cambridge University.

The Museums and Galleries Commission may recommend the department delay an export licence to see if money can be raised for the collection in Britain.

Keele academics have also complained that they were not told about the sale of 200 other books with the collection. The June minutes of the university council said Pounds 1 million was offered for the collection and that Pounds 70,000 would be spent on the library.

Letters, page 15

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