More about BFI library proposals

bfiwatch understands that the crucial question of how much space is available at the BFI Southbank premises to house the Stephen Street library study resources is not yet resolved.

Extracts from the BFI 2011-15 Proposals for Consultation:

3.2 BFI National Library The Library collections are core to the development, care and interpretation of the national collection, and essential to the curatorial R&D and creation of knowledge that inform development of our cultural programme. Developing access to collections continues to be a key goal. However, as a cultural organisation with limited public funding we can no longer afford the depth of information we provide at the moment by phone and email, and we need to balance the levels of service provided to the HE sector against increased services to the public. We believe that there is a market for a free library service, oriented towards the public and tied to audience development alongside a modernised service for researchers and students.

We propose therefore making our library offer part of our public offer, working with our education team to increase schools and young persons’ usage of the Library. We aim to continue serving higher education users in the reading room but will augment this through increased digital delivery and research access at the Conservation Centre. The subscription information service will be closed.

3.3 New facility in a new home Subject to an affordable capital investment plan — currently in development — the reading room will be located at BFI Southbank, using the former Gallery and its back offices and potentially incorporating the Mediatheque space. Initial thinking is that the new library will be open 50 hours per week (Tuesday – Saturday 11:00-20:00; Sunday 12:00-17:00; Monday closed).

Access in the reading room will be layered, with a free public access area; free but controlled-entry area and a research area (which may be charged). A proportion of library stock will be rotated both to meet the needs of specific user groups and to make accessible materials in association with the cultural programme. School group visits and events will be extended and promoted.

Options for creating a library stack at BFI Southbank are being explored to ensure we keep as much as possible of the current book and periodical collection intact when the Library relocates. Heavily used stock will be moved into the reading room to increase browsing access. Lightly-used stock will be transferred to storage at the Conservation Centre, alongside the Special Collections and (mainly pre-1940) library material which is already housed there.

The book and journal catalogues will be integrated with other collections databases and made publicly accessible online, so that materials may be selected and booked for viewing, wherever they are housed. Investment will be made in digitising some key collections to free staff from having to help users with antiquated systems. Digital-on-demand and materials which need to be brought in may be charged. Facilities at the Conservation Centre at Berkhamsted will be developed to offer additional research access to — for example — un-catalogued material, stills and posters, especially as part of partnered research projects with our curators.

[ … ] All library staff will be multi-skilled to run the reading room and deal with enquiries, but six designated individuals will take responsibility for professional library functions: acquisitions, journals, cataloguing, enquiries, reading room and research services (all posts proposed as full time). A further four full time equivalent posts will be generic librarian/library assistant roles to be deployed flexibly in accordance with workload and projects such as cataloguing and digitisation. Staff will be required to work as required in the reading room, library office, the stack or on the collections at Berkhamsted. We will use 2011/12 to plan and prepare for relocation of the reading room to BFI Southbank. The proposal is for the new staff structure to be in place from 1 April 2011 but opening hours will remain as now while we are at Stephen Street; a plan for transition to the new charging regime is being prepared, which will include obtaining agreements on new working patterns.

Research viewings—the proposal is to move towards digital delivery, with as much material as possible booked directly by users searching in the CID database. The requested material will be digitised on demand by the Film Acquisitions & Access team (see below) and streamed or downloaded to an appropriate viewing station in the library / mediatheque. Complex research viewing requests requiring desktop research to identify appropriate materials will be handled by the Collections Gateway team (see below). Current viewing facilities for analogue materials will be retained at Stephen Street whilst the digital delivery service is developed. [ … ]


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