Imperial War Museum library threatened with closure

Imperial War Museum library threatened with closure

The Imperial War Museum (IWM) has confirmed it is consulting on restructuring its organisation, in changes which staff say could see its library close and up to 80 people lose their jobs.

Altogether, the institution, made up of several museums around the UK, is seeking to reduce annual expenditure by £4m to account for changes in funding, led by a cut in its grant in aid from the government. Ensuing changes could see IWM's unique library closed, alongside cuts to the museum's education programmes and job losses.

The proposed changes have prompted a petition from the Prospect union, which has already been signed by more than 1,500 people.

The petition reads: "Since it was founded in 1917 the IWM has been recognised internationally as a leading authority on conflict. Following a major refurbishment coinciding with the centenary of the start of the First World War, it now faces an annual deficit of £4m and the loss of up to 80 staff, its vital library and the function it carries out. I call on you to ensure that IWM is provided with adequate funds to maintain the services it provides to its visitors and to maintain its standing as an international centre for study, research and education."

The library made its first acquisition in 1917, a programme for a pantomime staged by 85th Ambulance in Salonika. It has a unique collection of documents related to military conflicts.

A spokesman for IWM told The Bookseller: "The change programme seeks to ensure IWM can continue to respond to challenges and opportunities, build on our successes to date, improve and update ways of working across the organisation and reduce IWM's net expenditure by £4million per annum to account for changes to funding and increases in pension contributions. IWM aims to achieve the expenditure change by reducing costs and increasing our income through further commercial activity."

They added: "The consultation period for the organisational restructuring element of IWM's change programme has now begun. We are working closely with those who may be affected by the change proposals and will continue to do so until the end of the year. Any announcements regarding changes at IWM will be made early next year (2015)."

The Imperial War Museum London was reopened in July this year after a £40m refurbishment, with a new First World War Gallery.