Letter: Moving the King's Library

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The Independent Online
Letter: Moving the King's Library

THOSE persons calling for the reversal of the move by the British Library to St Pancras of the books comprising the King's Library (report, 19 March) fail to take into account the well-being of this great collection.

The Smirke-designed rooms at the British Museum are very grand and beautiful, but they lack the proper environmental conditions without which the books they were designed to house would in time literally disintegrate.

Account also needs to be taken of the needs and working methods of those who use a modern research library. One of the many benefits of the new St Pancras building is that it unites historic collections, of which the King's Library is but one, in good environmental conditions, under one roof. Establishing the location of a book on a computerised catalogue is all very well, but a researcher's work would be considerably hampered by the need to trail back and forth across London between separate buildings housing the range of references being consulted.

The glass King's Library tower at St Pancras is a fitting home for the collection. It forms the heart of a building which is being acclaimed for its humanity, its sense of space, and the high quality of its construction. No doubt it will come to be as greatly loved as the Bloomsbury building is today. Your readers might bear in mind that Smirke's British Museum building was vilified when it was opened 167 years ago.

BRIAN LANG

Chief Executive, The British Library

London NW1

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