Campaigners hail 'u-turn' over Manchester Central Library

Campaigners hail 'u-turn' over Manchester Central Library

The Friends of Manchester Central Library are celebrating what they hail "a u-turn" by council officials, after the halting of the disposal of books from its reference collections.

Around 300,000 items from the non-fiction reference stock are being weeded out, with the council confirming they intend them "not to return" to the refurbished library when it reopens in 2014.

However the selected books will now be stored in a warehouse until decisions can be made about their future, rather than being disposed of.

The move to weed out the library stock has caused a wave of protest, with authors including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and writer Jeanette Winterson among those who have expressed deep concern.

A spokesperson for Manchester city council said that the process of reviewing the general reference collection at the Manchester Central Library was continuing but that "for the moment, we are keeping the books that have been withdrawn so that we can provide reassurance that we're carrying this out properly to certain key people who haven't had a chance to see the process yet."

However Vicky Rosin, the deputy chief executive of Manchester city council, said there had been "no u-turn" in the council's approach to editing the library's reference book stock, adding that there had been "scaremongering" on the issue.

Rosin also rebutted campaigners' claims that the reason the reference collection is being weeded is due to the lack of shelving for non-fiction reference books in the refurbished Central Library. She said this was a "myth" and that "there will be more shelving in Central Library when it reopens."

The Friends of Manchester Central Library said: "Whilst the Friends are delighted at this complete change of policy, concerns are already being expressed over the long-term future of the stored books. There is also the question of access for the public: as these volumes are not being catalogued, how will the public know what is in storage and what has already been disposed of? And when will the public be able to gain access to the stored books? The Friends still feel that the whole process has been woefully mismanaged and that many questions remain unanswered on the vital issues of transparency and accountability."