Books which ran out of shelf-life;Letter

13th August 1999 at 01:00
BOOK reservation charges in public libraries may not seem a burning issue but, with the restrictions on book buying biting ever deeper, the cost of borrowing a "non-stock" item has risen alarmingly. A few years ago Leeds libraries charged 30p per book, now the charge is 80p plus pound;2 if the book isn't in stock, bringing the real reservation fee to almost pound;3 per item.

So much for the "free libraries" of Andrew Carnegie. While Glenda Jackson MP is busy charging to the defence of her Hampstead branch, the barbarians are already within the gates, selling off "items surplus to stock". In Leeds this included the only complete run of Peace News in the UK, the excuse being that I was "the only person who consulted it in the previous year".

The decision was not made by library staff, who shared my horror at the loss of irreplaceable archive material, but by a new tier of "higher management economists". The concerns of disgruntled borrowers and dedicated librarians seem equally "surplus to requirements".

Barry Tebb 27 Sefton Terrace Leeds

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