Notes from meeting re: future of BFI national library

Notes from meeting @ bfi Stephen Street 10 October 2011.

Present: Richard Paterson (Head of Research and Scholarship), Gabriele Popp (Head of Information), Emma Smart (Library Manager).

Ed Buscombe, Richard Collins (notes), Pam Cook.

Apologies: Annette Kuhn, Amanda Nevill, Heather Stewart.

Pam asked the bfi for an update – what had happened since our last meeting? How would the bfi undertake its consultation? What was planned for the South Bank and Berkhamsted?

The bfi said:

*       Consultation was about to begin and would be done using the bfi website during October with a processing of findings during November and publication of results late in 2011/early in 2012.

*       A focus group would take place on October 24th at 6.30pm. (GP clarification: A number of focus groups are being held throughout October, with a specific one for academics on October 24th.)

*       FAQs on the website would be updated and a newsletter issued to bfi members.

*       No further library staff reductions were envisaged.

*       Service had been maintained with the exception of the loss of one late evening closing.

*       The bfi acknowledged that accessioning and cataloguing may have fallen behind but it was committed to maintaining a comprehensive acquisition policy and the acquisition budget had not been cut.

Bfi plans are to:

*       Move the library to the South Bank by 2013. Establish some kind of segregated access – perhaps by membership, perhaps by user needs (eg a space for researchers separate from that for walk-in users) to be informed by consultation.

*       Accelerate digitisation of the printed collections.

*       Foster integrated access to the collections (including printed) on digital platforms.

*       Establish a study centre at Berkhamsted for “in depth” research.

*       Update equipment to access library holdings (eg microfiche readers, digital scanners).

*       Enable users to book materials online with a day after order delivery target.

*       Develop library staff’s digital skills including creation of an e-resources post. (GP clarification: we created a dedicated Serials & e-Resources Librarian post as part of the 2011-15 restructure which was filled with an existing library staff member. We continue to improve all library staff’s digital skills.)

The bfi wished to broaden the profile of library users but recognised that research was a key activity and that researchers were “core users” of the library.

Plans for layout and space utilisation in the South Bank library were not fixed and would be informed by the findings from the consultation.

Pam thanked the bfi, stated that the record of the meeting would be posted on the bfiwatch blog and agreed to send the draft note of meeting to Gabriele for comment prior to posting.

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Article about BFI library in ThreeD magazine

The MeCCSA newsletter ThreeD includes a feature about the BFI library in its April 2011 issue, which focuses on resistance to the cuts in Higher Education. To access a PDF of the article, click here:

BFI National Library: modernising or mothballing?

Library campaign letter to BFI governors

Today the following letter, together with individual copies of the campaign petition, was delivered by hand to each member of the BFI board of governors:

07 April 2011

Dear Governor,

We write to express our concern, a concern shared by many in the UK and international film and media community, about the BFI management’s proposals for the Institute’s incomparable library. We have hoped that the changes proposed would improve access to and care of the collection but they promise to do the reverse.

Our views are well represented in the documents which accompany this letter to you: notably, the letter to the Director, signed by us and more than twenty other professors, and the petition of more than 1,000 signatories (available at http://www.gopetition.com/petition/42006.html ). The concern, to which these documents testify, has been echoed in the press – eg in The Independent, Sight and Sound, The New Statesman and The Times Higher Education Supplement. Since writing to the Director we have met her and her colleagues and take some comfort in their assurances and the undertakings made by Heather Stewart, by e-mail and in her statement in Sight and Sound. These assurances include a commitment to the library being a top priority and head of the investment list, public consultation on proposals, maintaining the level of professional expertise and qualifications among library staff, not worsening access to the ITC collection and maintaining the library acquisition budget. Heather has also referred to the risk to collections of printed materials posed by basement storage and we share her concern on this matter – not least because a basement next to the river Thames is, obviously, a riskier location than one in Stephen Street.

However, the Director has referred to April 2012 as the target date for implementing the library’s move to the South Bank – this is now only a year away and if public consultation is to be meaningful and capable of influencing the Institute’s decisions we are convinced that clear and detailed proposals – perhaps with modelled options – need to be made public very soon. We write now therefore to bring to your attention the pervasiveness of a high level of public and user concern over the future of the BFI National Library and the need soon to bring forward clear and detailed proposals for its future so that public consultation can be meaningful. The BFI National Library is an incomparable resource – its integrity, comprehensiveness and accessibility must not be worsened.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Edward Buscombe

Professor Richard Collins

Professor Pam Cook

Professor Annette Kuhn

Notes from meeting with BFI management about library proposals

BFI management have asked that the notes of the meeting posted yesterday be taken  down until they have had a chance to amend them. We expect an agreed  version to be posted in the next couple of days.

Campaign petition now closed

The petition to keep the BFI Library together and accessible, which attracted 1143 signatures in one month, has now closed. The results, together with the comments, have been forwarded to BFI Director Amanda Nevill.

The campaign continues — watch this space for updates.

Letter about library proposals in THE

This letter appeared in the Times Higher Education on Friday 27 January 2011:

Rewrites required

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.

Times Higher Education – People news – Rewrites required