British Museum library may have to close

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The Independent Online

A historic London library containing 50,000 books, including centuries-old tomes relating to the history of the British Museum, is facing closure.

The Paul Hamlyn public library at the British Museum, which contains thousands of books – along with a unique collection of museum guidebooks dating from 1762 – could close as the institution seeks to cut costs.

"It is with regret that the British Museum is having to consider the closure of the Paul Hamlyn Library," a spokeswoman said. The museum, which is attempting to accommodate a 15 per cent cut in government subsidy over the next four years, features in its library such rare titles as Formulare Anglicanum by Thomas Madox, Antiquities of Athens by James Stuart and the complete works of Niccolò Machiavelli. According to a report in this week's Museums Journal, the museum is consulting 11 staff over the future of its collection, as part of a 90-day internal consultation process.

Robert Dufton, director of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said: "We would be disappointed to see the closure of [the library]. We believe that it has an important part to play, alongside online resources, in enabling effective and deep learning and providing information about the collections at the museum."