Letter: Library sales not fuelled by greed

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The Independent Online
Sir: I can assure your correspondent that he is worrying unduly about our libraries, and that his remarks (Letters, 12 May) are completely untrue.

The botany collection is not 'celebrated'. It was bought by the council over a period of time as part of the arrangements whereby a small number of libraries in the south-east of England held material on specific specialist subjects, and which was then made available to others on request.

The council's responsibility for botany publications ceased in 1976, and is now handled by Enfield and Havering. These publications can, of course, be supplied to Kensington and Chelsea if required. There are, sadly, no valuable prints or 'amazing' first editions.

When it was decided to dispose of the collection it was initially offered to the Chelsea Physic Garden, but as much of it is outdated, only a few items, which were subsequently supplied to them, were of interest.

The collection is now being assessed for either sale or disposal. Initially, the council has been advised (not by Sotheby's as mentioned) that 80 per cent (some of which is damaged) is useful for little more than 'shelf-fillers'.

The saleable remainder may be worth a few thousand pounds.

Also, there are no 'great' works, as suggested, being disposed of from our libraries.

Yours faithfully,


Chairman, Libraries and Arts Committee

Town Hall


London, W8

14 May