CILIP protests against IWM library 'closure'

CILIP protests against IWM library 'closure'

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has written an open letter to the Imperial War Museum, expressing concern over the threat to its unique library.

It was revealed last month that the museum was consulting on a restructure, and staff have claimed the restructure could see the library in its London museum closed and up to 80 people lose their jobs. The Museum has said it will make an announcement on what is involved in the restructure in January.

The letter, signed by chair of the CILIP board Martyn Wade and the 2015 president Jan Parry, says that the IWM library "plays a pivotal role in furthering our understanding of modern war and conflict."

It states: "It is important that the IWM library provides access to these resources in order to understand the impact that war has on ordinary lives. We strongly believe that skilled, knowledgeable and professional library staff are fundamental to successfully managing, developing and providing access to these important resources."

The museum's budget is changing as a result of changes to its funding. It is looking to reduce its net expenditure by £4m a year. The letter, addressed to Imperial War Museum director-general Diane Lees, also copies in culture secretary Sajid Javid, libraries minister Ed Vaizey and Chancellor George Osborne.

More than 13,000 people have signed a petition, set up by the Prospect union, calling for cuts to the museum's funding to be reversed and its library kept open.

Signatories include former director-general of the museum Alan Borg, who told the Financial Times he was "horrified" at the thought of closure, and said: "The potential is to degrade the service the museum offers to the public. It’s one of the things that I and my successor were particularly proud of."

Historians and biographers including Sarah Bradford, Robert Lace and Lord Asa Briggs have also signed the petition.

The library has been acquiring materials since 1917, and has built a unique collection of military documents, which are used for study and research internationally.

In summer this year, Imperial War Museum London reopened after a £40m refurbishment, with a new First World War Gallery.