Saturday, February 03, 2007

It probably CAN happen here

From Galleycat:

Expect to Pay at the British Library

Thanks to the prospect of serious cuts - potentially up to 7 percent of its 100 million pound annual budget - the British Library is about to engage in some drastic measures. The Independent reports that in order to survive, the library proposes to slash opening hours by more than a third and to charge researchers for admission to the reading rooms for the first time. All public exhibitions would close, along with schools learning programs. The permanent collection, which includes a copy of every book published in the UK, would be permanently reduced by 15 per cent. And the national newspaper archive, used by 30,000 people a year, including many researching their family trees, would close.

The reaction has been swift and angry. Award-winning author Margaret Drabble, who is currently using the library for research, said: "It would be a very great mistake and tragic to make cuts. It is a great national institution and it is used by scholars from all over the world." Ex-Monty Python star Michael Palin, who is a patron of the library, said it was a "precious and thrilling resource" that needs to be looked after. Even the House of Lords is up in arms, but the Department for Culture says the expected cuts will mean that more savings need to be made. A spokesman said: "The cultural sector has had huge real-terms increases in funding since 1997. Clearly, this cannot go on indefinitely."

Ed here: This sounds like something Bush would come up with--and may yet to pay for his wars. You mean in the entire British budget there wasn't enough fat in some other less vital segment to spare the library? Given all the yahoos in our own congress (no, the world wasn't created 120 years ago!) expect this to come to a library near you very soon.

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