Tuesday, 5 November 2013

An open letter to Councillor Simon Cook and Mayor George Ferguson from Bristol book publishers



Dear Councillor Cook and Mayor Ferguson,

In response to Latimer's suggestion that architect Charles Holden would be appalled at the thought of a primary school moving into his specifically designed book storage areas beneath Central Library (Post, October 8), we the undersigned would like to add our voices to the growing campaign to oppose the change of use.

Bristol Library service celebrates its 400th anniversary this year and during that time has amassed an important collection. The reference library is accessible to all the people of Bristol to benefit from that collection unlike the reference collections held within our universities.

It is our view that the entirely inappropriate change of use would make much of this collection inaccessible to the people of Bristol.

Former head librarian Anthony Beeson has previously pointed out in the Post that the basement houses the entire reference periodical collection with many thousands of often huge volumes and the majority of the art library reference collection, one of the largest such collections in Britain.

There is an entire room filled with valuable illustrated volumes, both private press and illustrated historic works. The same floor also has the local history library's illustrations collections and the entire lending library reserve of many thousands of volumes that are constantly drawn upon to supplement the open access stock.

In addition, of course, there are offices, meeting rooms and book-ordering and interlibrary loan departments on these floors and the library staff within them. 

At a time that Birmingham has invested £80 million in a new library and Liverpool has spent £55 million on revamping its Central Library, it is our view that the change of use would lead to a decline in services that could eventually lead to the closure and relocation of the Central Library. Surely it would be wiser to look at making Bristol’s own collection more accessible along the same lines as Birmingham and Liverpool, rather than lose Holden’s masterpiece to short-term opportunism.

We urge Post readers to lobby their councillors against the plan and to sign the online petition at http://epetitions.bristol.gov.uk/epetition_core/community/petition/2348

Libraries are places of the imagination. 

Yours,

Clive Burlton, Martin Powell, Joe Burt (Bristol Books CIC)

Editorial Collective (Bristol Radical History Group)

William Fairney (Diesel Publishing)

Roy Gallop (Fiducia Press)

Mike Manson (Past & Present Press)

Dru Marland (Gert Macky Books)

Mark Steeds (Long John Silver Trust/Black Spot Publications)

John Adler (Pomegranate Books)

John Sansom (Redcliffe Press Ltd)

Philip de Bary (Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books)

Alastair Sawday (Sawday’s)

Richard Jones (Tangent Books)

(this letter appeared in the Bristol Post, paper edition)