This letter appeared in the Times Higher Education on Friday 27 January 2011:
27 January 2011
The British Film Institute plans to remove its collection from an accessible site in central London to its archive store in Berkhamsted – with no public transport running between the archive and the nearest railway station (“Fears of the cutting room floor: BFI plans alarm sector”, 20 January).
A few selected items may be retained at the BFI’s site on the South Bank; for the rest we are offered “digitised delivery”. But what can this mean when thousands of books in the collection do not exist in digitised form, nor is the BFI likely to ensure that they do?
The best way of serving the public is not to cut off the root that has fostered and sustained the UK’s lively moving image culture. We are not aware of any consultation with library users, still less with donors to the collection.
A merger with the British Library seems to be the most promising solution. The BFI must talk to users who are directly affected by this disastrous decision and who, like us, can see the long-term damage it will cause.
Tim Bergfelder, University of Southampton, Charlotte Brunsdon, University of Warwick, Robert Burgoyne, University of St Andrews, Edward Buscombe, former head of BFI Publishing, John Caughie, University of Glasgow, Richard Collins, The Open University, Pam Cook, University of Southampton, Elizabeth Cowie, University of Kent, John Ellis, Royal Holloway, University of London, Christine Geraghty, Glasgow, Christine Gledhill, University of Sunderland, Mark Jancovich, University of East Anglia, Dina Jordanova, St Andrews, Annette Kuhn, Queen Mary, University of London, Barry Langford, Royal Holloway, Laura Mulvey, Birkbeck, University of London, Steven Neale, University of Exeter, Murray Smith, Kent, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Queen Mary, Peter Stanfield, Kent, Sarah Street, University of Bristol, Yvonne Tasker, UEA, Terry Threadgold, pro vice-chancellor, Cardiff University, Ginette Vincendeau, King’s College London, Linda Ruth Williams, Southampton.