For the last year or so, the British Library has, in my view, been very crowded. Queues at the cloakroom, the information and the check-in/out desk are rather long, and I often have difficulties finding an empty desk to work. Having spoken about to BL staff on the info desk a number of times, I was told that these problems are due to increasing numbers of business people and undergraduate students working in the library. The latter often simply use the quite BL space for revision. BL staff are not happy about the increasing user numbers either and encouraged me to write to “BL service improvement” to voice my concerns. I have done so; please see below.
If you should have similar concerns, please do not hesitate to write to:
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Dear Madam, dear Sir,
I am writing to you to voice my concerns about the working conditions in the British Library which, in my view, have been deteriorating for (at least) a couple of years.
In particular, I am worried about the lack of working space and long queues: Unless one manages to arrive in the morning, it can be quite difficult to even find a free desk. In fact, I have experienced days in the BL when no desk at all was available and I had to wait an hour or so until I and finally decided to leave. In addition, queues at the cloakroom and the service desks are rather long and complicate matters unduly.
The number of BL users seems to have increased significantly over the last couple of years which some people might find a good thing – especially those who believe that the number of ‘customers’ should determine BL’s funding. I disagree with this view as I believe that the BL should be a place for academic research, not for commercial, business-related research or undergraduate exam revision. While I admit that undergraduates might need more work space as their universities suffer from the currents cuts, I do not see why the BL as a research library should try to compensate the negative results of government policy. Research, obviously, suffers a lot too.
I would be grateful if steps could be taken to solve the problem of an overcrowded (and therefore often stressful and noisy) British Library, and to re-establish decent working conditions to conduct research there.
Dr Falco Pfalzgraf
School of Languages, Linguistics and Film
Queen Mary, University of London
Arts Building, Mile End Road
LONDON E1 4NS
Tel. (+44) 020 7882 8321
Fax. (+44) 020 8980 5400
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