Library rejects charges

September 25, 1998

The British Library has decided access to its reading rooms will remain free for the foreseeable future after a consultation exercise with users.

Brian Lang, chief executive, said most of the more than 15,000 responses to the consultation were "very firmly" against charging as a way of contributing towards the shortfall in the library's funding.

The funding shortfall is Pounds 8 million a year, with a projected deficit in five years of Pounds 25 million a year.

Charging had been one of several options for raising revenue but it was one the board had always been reluctant to bring in.

Dr Lang said: "Obviously we cannot rule charging out for ever but it is not something we would choose to introduce."

Much will now depend on talks with the government. Library officials are scheduled to meet culture secretary Chris Smith in October to discuss ways of dealing with the funding shortage.

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