The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 24, Number 5
Feb 2001


British Library Stops Weeding Newspapers—For Now

British Library Chief Executive Lynne Brindley has ordered a halt to the weeding of historic non-British newspapers from the library's collections. The Guardian newspaper reported November 24 that no more volumes would be discarded until a full review of the suitability of the microfilmed copies was completed.

"I wish to ensure that all options have been properly considered and that the safeguards are robust," Brindley said. "The long-term aim was to provide copies good enough to meet the demands of users well into the future."

The policy, begun by Brindley's predecessor Brian Lang, was disclosed in July (American Libraries, Sept. 2000, p. 33) when American author Nicholson Baker pointed out that the library had auctioned off or discarded some 60,000 volumes - nearly 10% of its hard-copy newspaper holdings at Colindale, north of London. The losses included unique print runs of U.S. newspapers from 1880 to 1950, German papers from the 1930s, and pre-Revolutionary Russian papers.

The library had begun weeding to reclaim valuable storage space, since the buildings are nearly at capacity and have room for only five or six years of new acquisitions. "We are likely to have to face making further difficult decisions again in the not too distant future," Brindley said.

(from American Libraries, Jan. 2001, p.35-36)

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