Battle won on education, but fight continues to save Imperial War Museum library, says Prospect union

Battle won on education, but fight continues to save Imperial War Museum library, says Prospect union

Prospect today (Thursday) welcomed a partial victory in its campaign to prevent the closure of vital services at the Imperial War Museum to plug a £4m annual deficit following cuts in government funding.

South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley yesterday announced via Twitter that Chancellor George Osborne had pledged an additional £8m to support educational services provided by the museum, including those in his constituency at IWM’s Duxford branch.

Prospect negotiator Andy Bye said: “While we welcome the reprieve for some of the museum’s education services, the battle is not won until its world-class library and Explore History facility in London are saved. Our members, and indeed the public, will accept nothing less.

“If dispersed now, this is not a resource, in terms of either books or knowledgeable librarians, which could ever be easily reassembled again.

“Museum staff have been heartened by the public outcry in response to our campaign. The government is clearly having second thoughts over funding cuts which represent such a grave threat to the library and its pivotal role in war remembrance. We urge supporters to keep up the pressure until the library’s future is guaranteed.”

Andrew Lansley, the Conservative former minister had previously described Duxford as the “largest primary school in the country” and hailed the “fantastic knowledge” people came away with. As a consequence he said he would approach the Chancellor with a request for an endowment drawn from bank fines.

A petition launched by Prospect in November to save all threatened services at the IWM has so far collected more than 13,000 signatures, along with hundreds of comments from across the globe.

Most question the wisdom of dismantling the library’s unique collection of books and ephemera, which are used by a broad range of people – from members of the public investigating family genealogy to museum staff researching exhibitions.

High-profile supporters include Alan Borg, former IWM director general, writer Michael Rosen, royal biographers Sarah Bradford and Robert Lacey and Lord Asa Briggs, historian and Bletchley Park alumnus.