Controversial Guildhall Library plans put on hold

Controversial Guildhall Library plans put on hold

Plans to move Guildhall Library's vast collections to the London Metropolitan Archive as part of a consolidation of services have been put on hold pending a consultation and more detailed plans.

The library, founded in 1425, has a huge collection of 200,000 books dating from the 15th to the 21st centuries and attracts hundreds of users.

Since 2018, the facility has been under the direction of the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) in Clerkenwell. The City of London Corporation, which runs it, said there had been a “growing convergence” between the two services.

However, while the LMA site has a purpose-built archive and library study areas, the Guildhall Library has largely been left unchanged since the 1970s, lacking investment and external grants.

Under plans by the City of London Corporation, the two services would be brought together with Guildhall's key collections being transferred to the LMA site from April 2021 pending a longer-term consolidation plan. In the meantime, the Clerkenwell building would be the primary base for staff.

At the corporation’s culture, heritage and libraries committee on 21st September, however, a decision on the plans was postponed after members raised concerns about access, the closure of the library reading room and the lack of detail in the plans and declined to approve them. The committee said it had also received complaints from members of the public both directly and via social media.

A spokesman for the corporation said: “Members decided that they did not wish to agree the proposals at this time in their current form but were supportive of officers continuing to look at the option and asked them to consult widely and work up more detailed plans to be brought back to committee at a future date.”