Imperial War Museum library closure petition launched

The Imperial War Museum of London has just received a new atrium as part of a remodeling program that was completed this year with the re-opening in July. A collection of 1300 artifacts has been put on exhibit for the centenary of the first world war, with tanks on display as well as letters, photographs and other memorabilia. Now due to a funding cut of £4m, The Prospect Union has announced plans for the elimination of 80 jobs and the closure of the IWM library. A spokesman for the IWM referred to the move as necessary for cost reduction.

Since 1917, the library has been collecting materials which also contribute to museum exhibitions for display. Public access to the library permits research to be freely conducted, and is a valuable resource for educational institutions as well.

Just on the heels of the 100th anniversary for the start of World War One, comes the decision now to close the library. A petition to oppose the closure has been circulated and signed by 1500 people who would like to see the library stay open. “Closing IWM’s library is not a fitting way to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War,” remarked Andy Bye as Prospect negotiator. “IWM aspires to be a highly respected authority on its subject matter, but this will be impossible without a library.”

The  petition requests current and future cuts for funding of the Imperial War Museum to be reversed without delay, and is addressed to the chancellor and culture secretary, the BBC News reports.

Another area of the IWM called Explore History received 55,000 visitors in 2013, and is also recommended for closure according to plans. This facility provides a way for the public to learn about other items not on display, held in the museum’s repositories.

The museum spokesman has said, “The change programme seeks to ensure IWM can continue to respond to challenges and opportunities, build on our successes to date, improve and update ways of working across the organisation.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE