Sale of Bancroft deeply misguided and makes no sense

PUBLISHED: 16:09 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 05 October 2010

Dear Editor, THE proposed sale of the Bancroft Archives and studies centre is deeply misguided. It rightly belongs to all East Enders. Splitting up the archive and the library even for a supposedly temporary period makes no sense

Dear Editor,

THE proposed sale of the Bancroft Archives and local studies centre is deeply misguided.

The archive and its associated library is a historical treasure which rightly belongs to all East Enders.

Splitting up the archive and the library, even for a supposedly temporary period, makes no sense.

Moving an archive is always a highly risky process. Moving it temporarily will involve potential loss of documents, reeking havoc with catalogues and search materials.

It will inevitably make the archives difficult to use. Researchers will find themselves unable to refer to the library when using the archives.

The time, patience and expertise built up by the archivists over many years will be lost.

For the sake of what? While the Wiener Library is of international importance, it is only indirectly relevant to the East End.

It is a specialist research library which could, in theory, be located anywhere in central London.

Access to the Wiener will most likely be limited to professional researchers rather than the general public.

The building, a historical public building, will, be owned and run in effect by a private educational institution.

No doubt Queen Mary College will look after the building. This is not the point.

This is yet another example of Tower Hamlets council selling off the borough's historic fabric in pursuit of short term financial gain.

The closure of the Whitechapel Library, the historic 'university of the ghetto' where generations of immigrants' children, Jewish and Bangladeshi, got their first steps on the road to intellectual growth, was bad enough.

This is an act of cultural vandalism of the highest order.

Dr Michael Berlin

Faculty of History

Birkbeck College, University of London

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