Letter: How to save the Reading Room

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The Independent Online
How to save the Reading Room

Sir: I was very sad to read ("The final chapter for library classic", 30 November) that Camden planning committee has given permission for the conversion of the British Museum Reading Room from its proper use into a computer cafe.

My respect and admiration for this great national institution go back 50 years to when I started work from school as a ticket issuer for the Reading Room, and where, as your correspondent recalls, I met my partner, Angus Wilson, who contributed so much to the work and life of visiting scholars from all over the world.

The Reading Room is indeed one of the wonders of the world: a superbly purpose-built room for study, as I can testify, having used it as a reader.

What should happen, and could happen if this Government had an ounce of respect for our heritage, is that the Reading Room should be dismantled and re-erected alongside the new British Library at St Pancras, where its rightful function could continue, and where the second largest dome in London could be seen: it is not seen now unless you climb to the roof of the Museum Tavern.

There is land available, unless the Government has sold it to the private sector - something it is compulsively impelled to do. The space left at the British Museum site would be invaluable to the departments remaining.

TONY GARRETT

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

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