Lincoln begs for books

September 2, 2005

Books are so thin on the ground at Lincoln University's library that academics have been asked to donate material from their personal collections, writes Phil Baty.

In a letter to all staff last month, Brian Winston, Lincoln's pro vice-chancellor, made his appeal for books warning that the "relative thinness" of the collection at the university's newly refurbished library has become an "ever more vexed" issue.

Professor Winston wrote: "I am sure that, like me, you might be holding materials which still have useful life left in them."

He offers donors a "commemorative bookplate and plaque" to acknowledge contributions, and adds helpfully: "Materials can be brought either by hand to the library or, if the quantity is too great, we can arrange porterage.

"Of course, if you have the energy, the books can be delivered to the library -there is a delivery parking space at the rear."

In a frank interview with The Times Higher this week, Professor Winston said that the move was a sign of the harsh realities of modern higher education.

He said he could not describe "in a family newspaper" the true extent of his feelings about the limitations of state funding for higher education in an "age of fees and fundraising" and admitted: "We need all the help we can get."

He added: "I understand why people may find my letter astonishing. But this is the state of things to come and people must realise we are living in a changed universe."

Lincoln's library, based in the refurbished Great Central Warehouse building in the town's Brayford Wharf East student quadrant, holds 240,000 books and 1,000 periodicals.

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