Imperial War Museum Library at risk

i was greatly saddened to hear that the library at the Imperial War Museum is at risk of closure.  The closure would be a great loss.  A loss of jobs.  And a loss of a valuable and unique resource.  Some of you may have read my early posts about my visit to the archives at the IWM and my attempts to make a genuine Land Girl’s pullover from a vintage pattern.  I still have some patterns that I found in that archive that I need to make (including a cardigan dating from WWI – I had intended to get it done by November 11th but well, the best laid plans of mice and men etc.etc.)  Above all, for me, it is about the loss of stories.  The library and archives offer us the opportunity to connect with the past. And while it might seem from the outside that the collections are all about military history the archives contain all sorts of materials about people who had nothing whatsoever to do with the military but whose lives were, nevertheless, affected by war.  There are stories there – stories about children’s letters home, about people trying to make birthday cakes on rations, about people trying to make snazzy jumpers with as little yarn as possible.

And those stories will be lost too if the library closes.

Here’s the information from the press release.  If you want to help with the campaign to save the IWM library, please sign the petition below and spread the word.

4 November 2014

Imperial War Museum staff launch petition to save its library and services

The Imperial War Museum’s Prospect union branch today launched a petition calling on the government to reverse a £4m cut in annual funding, which has left it facing the closure of its unique library and the loss of 80 jobs, just months after the fanfare of IWM London’s reopening following a £40m refurbishment.

The move comes as the museum – the world’s leading authority on conflict – plays its part in marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

When Prime minister David Cameron reopened the museum in July 2014 he said “When I launched our plans for the First World War centenary, I said that the renovated Imperial War Museum would be the centrepiece of our commemorations. And what a fitting centrepiece this is – a national focal point in which we can all take great pride.

“You have created something fitting and lasting – something of which we can all be proud.”

Prospect negotiator Andy Bye said: “Closing IWM’s library is not a fitting way to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. IWM aspires to be a highly respected authority on its subject matter, but this will be impossible without a library.”

IWM London’s library acquired its first item in 1917 and has been a vital part of the museum ever since, playing a key role in helping staff do their jobs whether curating exhibitions or helping them to understand and identify artefacts. It also provides members of the public with access to research materials.

The closure has also been proposed of the ever-popular Explore History facility in London. Open seven days a week it allows the public to explore IWM’s collections and find out about objects and subjects not on display. It attracted 55,000 visitors last year.

School educational visits, led by museum and education professionals, to IWM branches at Duxford, HMS Belfast and the Churchill War Rooms are yet another service under threat.

The possibility of closures and cuts comes at a time when demand for all the museum’s services has never been higher: the IWM attracted 433,000 learners in 2013-14 and 256,000 children took part in its on and off-site educational programmes.

“Prospect fears this is only the start and that further damaging cuts are likely,” added Andy.

The petition is at: http://bit.ly/save_IWM

The prime minister’s speech is at www.gov.uk/government/speeches/reopening-of-the-imperial-war-museum-david-camerons-speech

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