The Imperial War Museum Library on National Libraries Day 2016

The Imperial War Museum was founded in March 1917 as a record of the toil and sacrifice of the ‘Great War’ while the conflict was still taking place. Printed material was central to the Imperial War Museum’s early collections – the Library acquired its first printed item in April 1917, a programme of the pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’, staged by the 85th Field Ambulance in Salonika. 99 years later the Library, its printed collections, and public access to these, remain at the Imperial War Museum – in no small part due to the efforts of campaigners and supporters who fought to save the Library in 2014-15.

Today the printed books collection at Imperial War Museum is a unique national reference library on twentieth and twenty-first century conflict, with access provided freely to all in the research room and ‘Explore History’ centre at the London site. The Library collections are used by a wide range of visitors, from historians, academics, authors and professional researchers to veterans, students, family historians and museum visitors with a casual interest.

On National Libraries Day we celebrate this unique Library and its diverse and valuable collections.

On a recent visit I was shown to a seat in the bright, modern surroundings of the new Research Room, with a wall of brightly coloured book spines to my left and a window overlooking the park on my right. In front of me a tantalising stack of books, boxes and paper files containing Library collections. I had pre-selected my items, each relating to an aspect of the Great War in 1916, from the somewhat brief catalogue records on the online catalogue and I was not sure what to expect. Had I selected what I needed, what would I find between the covers, and in these boxes and files…?

The first items were published in 1916 for the soldiers on the front, to fund raise and to raise morale. Contemporary publications with a patriotic message. From home a gift book to Tommy and Jack and all in the service of King and country on land and sea began with the promise that, “The free proceeds from the sale of this book will be devoted to sending copies to those at the Front and in the Navy”. Illustrations of home, Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch and Edinburgh Castle, also served to strength resolve – the Wallace Monument in Aberdeen is included with its inscription as the caption, “I tell you a truth, Liberty is the best of all things. My son, never live under any slavish bonds.” Doing their bit: war work at home is at pains to point out the support those at the Front have from those at home, hoping our troops “will learn from it how their comrades at home are doing “their bit”. So far so much evidence that more than ‘just’ fighting a war, publications in 1916 were carefully being used to ‘manage’ the conflict too.

And next another publication aiming to raise morale. I open an ordinary red box, to discover a beautiful volume bound in brown leather with an illustration embossed with gold – a path through trees (No-man’s-land?) and light shining from behind clouds (or could it be a shell exploding?) and the title, All’s well. It’s a small volume, pocket-sized. To fit the pocket of a soldier stationed at the front in the trenches perhaps. I gently remove it from the box. Its title page reveals a subtitle, “All’s well!” : some helpful verse for these dark days of war. John Oxenham dedicates the book to his son, who is fighting with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and explains that the title, adopted out of eighty-six alternatives, “is not to be taken as expressing my opinion that all is as it should be with us generally… One has to acknowledge with sorrow that things are not as they might and ought to be, and as, please God, they yet, in His good time, will be.” Added to the front of the volume, in a tiny neat handwritten scrawl, I find a verse from another Oxenham poem ‘A little te deum of the commonplace’ from Bees in Amber. Was this verse added in 1916? Or at Easter 1918? This date has been added, with initials, on the inside of the front cover. Was the small volume I hold in my hands read in the trenches? Did it ‘help’ its owner as Oxenham hoped?

Next first-hand accounts of the First World War, all published in 1916, from Somme battle stories with its chapter, ‘Describing indescribable’ to In the Ypres Salient the story of a fortnight’s Canadian fighting, June 2-16 1916.

describing

 

And on to ‘souvenir’ publications, a concept I find a little odd to understand amid the horror of the Great War (despite the fact that I may well have put away somewhere newspapers from the days following Princess Diana’s death and 9/11…) First The Bovril handy-book and diary of the War (I wondered if this was a publication that you would have saved up coupons or stamps from the purchase of Bovril to obtain, like cereal packets today?), with its cheerful cover, ensures no aspect will be forgotten with an almost day-by-day record of events.Bovril

While in The great air raids on England, September 3rd, 23rd and October 1st, 1916 souvenir photographs and official reports, poor quality black and white photos show the wrecked Zeppelin, including an image of “”Tommies” sorting out the wreckage.”

A gem for those researching military operations and who are interested in campaigns and orders of battle – out of a plain cream folder come handwritten notes, orders for the 13th Yorkshire Regiment, signed B. G. Baker, Lt. Colonel. A timetable of events, neatly written in blue ink on squared paper. Carefully laid plans and notes, “The enemy is known to reinforce along his front line from the country behind…” written one hundred years ago directing the movements of men half my age. Many of whom would never return home. I glanced up from the notes on the table and watched children playing in the park below the window.

A collection of seven rubbings of the names of those killed in 1916 – Commander Bley, Commander Mathy, Unknown German soldier – was exactly as described. An unassuming Silvine drawing books contains stark black rubbings of memorials to lives lost:

                 COMMANDER MATHY

                   KILLED ON SERVICE

                        OCTR 1st 1916

COMMANDER BLEY

KILLED ON SERVICE

SEPTR 24th 1916

                                                                                                    AN UNKNOWN

                                                                                                     GERMAN OFFICER

                                                                                                    KILLED

                                                                                                       WHILE COMMANDING

                                                                                                      ZEPPELIN L21

                                                                                                       3rd SEPT 1916

 

I sensed I had saved something special for my last item. Working backwards, this had in fact been the first item on my list, which was ordered by the Library’s unique classification scheme: 01/3(496.1).0-8

A brown box embossed with gold on the spine:

Gallipoli

Hare

Album of newscuttings

And what an album! Encased in velvet and stitched with patterned ribbon, I untied its elaborate bow.

bow

The first clipping was short,

“From the first captain to the last recruit the men who fought in Gallipoi did something worthy to make every one of us proud of being a man, let alone an Englishman; they set up a new outpost of man’s power in the universe, and they nearly defeated the inevitable. No evil song shall be sung of their swords.”

The album contains more than simple newscuttings, though there are plenty of these:

   “Disaster due to “wait and see.” Scathing report of the Dardanelles commission”;
   “All or none! The invidious Gallipoli Medal”;
   “Facts the Empire wants to know. Dardenelles “Who did that?” Questions.”

Glued or hand scored in alongside these cuttings are personal mementoes: a ticket to a Red Cross concert at Valetta, Malta is for the Manoel Theatre, Pit and stamped 26 October 1915; a kit bag label belonging to Lieut. Topham of the 2/10th Middlesex Regiment; photos carefully inserted and captioned, “My dugout, A beach West, Sept 1915” and “Bathing off Biyuk Kemikli” with an image showing four men sat, slightly awkwardly, in clear, shallow water; postcards; hand-painted watercolours. The album ends with a Roll of Honour, that of ‘Messrs Boulton Brothers and Company’.

With my 3 hour afternoon slot also coming to an end – and with the Research Room now closed on Fridays so no chance of my return the next morning- I leave with a greater understanding of the events and experiences of 1916, but  wishing I had more time, that I had explored further, learnt more; and knowing a repeat visit will be needed…

My short visit barely scratched the surface of the Library collections from 1916 alone. Just a handful of items from this incredible collection,  which records over one hundred years of war and includes insight into all aspects of conflict, from military to social, economic to technical, from fighting abroad to the home front, from biography to poetry, from scrap books to souvenirs. A unique insight into our history.

The Library collection at the Imperial War Museum belongs to the nation, and ‘Explore History’ and the Research Room enable access to these unique and valuable collections. On National Libraries Day the Imperial War Museum should be proud of its world class Library and research facilities.

The Library at the Imperial War Museum is open to all – search the Library collections online: www.iwm.org.uk/collections/books-publications and make an appointment to consult Library collections in the Research Room: www.iwm.org.uk/research/research-facilities.

IWM Explore History
IWM Explore History centre

Or you can visit Explore History to consult a limited range of items from the Library collections and to access digitised collections and resources –Explore History is open on a drop-in basis, Monday-Friday, 11.00am – 4.00 pm.

Finally, to view what others have found, discovered or learnt in the Imperial War Museum Library take a look at the #LoveIWMLibrary hashtag, and add your own photos!

Happy National Libraries Day 2016!

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The first Director-General of the Imperial War Museum loved libraries!

The first Director-General of the Imperial War Museum made clear the central role he believed that the Library and research collections should play in the new Museum.

Sir Martin Conway stated,

“You can make the Museum what you please. You can make it a mere storehouse of souvenirs and trophies and guns, but those are the matters of smallest importance in the Museum. It is in the records, the maps actually used by the Generals in the field, the enormous collection of photographs, all the air photographs that were taken, the record of all the work of women throughout the length and breadth of the country during the war in manufacture and substitution, the library, the map room—it is in all those smaller and less striking objects that the main value and importance of the Museum to the historian will consist. If it is to be a real place of research, a real place where the scientific history of the development of the marine engine during war-time, the development of aircraft, the development of the air engine, and all the rest of the scientific side of human activity during those five years of war, is to be recorded and illustrated, it may be necessary to have attached to it a staff of, say, half-a-dozen experts, who will not be cheap. On the other hand, if you like to make it nothing but a kind of rare show, a few police will be enough to keep it in order and look after the exhibits.”

HANSARD HL Deb 17 June 1920 vol 40 cc673-5

Sir Martin Conway understood that if the Museum was to have greater impact than merely being a tourist attraction or venue for a pleasant afternoon trip it must embed education,  learning and knowledge at its heart.

We hope that the current, and future, Director-General(s) ensure the Museum never becomes a “mere storehouse of souvenirs” and urge them to maintain and develop the Museum’s world class Library and research facilities.

IWM image

Supporters of Imperial War Museum Library, National Libraries Day 2016

Proposal to charge for Research Room access dropped

On Wednesday IWM announced that they no longer plan to charge for access to the Research Room. The press release can be viewed here: http://www.iwm.org.uk/sites/default/files/press-release/IWM_Research_Room.pdf

We are delighted that this aspect of our campaign has been successful and want to thank all supporters for their efforts in bringing about this U turn. The active campaigning of such a wide range of people has ensured that free access to our history at IWM has been retained. This has prevented a dangerous precedent of charging for access to information in national museums being set. We cannot thank our supporters enough for all their efforts!

Damaging changes and cuts at IWM Library are still going ahead and we will share any further information about this when we have it.

Imperial War Museum must not be crowned ‘Museum of the Year 2015’

Following the recent announcement that Imperial War Museum London (IWM) has been shortlisted for the Art Fund’s ‘Museum of the Year 2015’ we asked supporters of the Library and research services at IWM to share their views as to why the Museum should not win this prestigious prize. We are delighted that one supporter’s opinion was today published as a letter in a national newspaper.

Supporter's letter published in the Guardian 'Review'
Supporter’s letter published in the Guardian ‘Review’

The text is an abridged version of a fuller letter that will be sent to the Art Fund and the prize judges:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am shocked that The Art Fund have shortlisted the Imperial War Museum (IWM) for ‘Museum of the Year’

In the last 6 months it proposed disposing of its printed collections. These were core accessioned collections, collected over 90+ years since the establishment of the Museum in 1917. They were ‘deaccessioned’ en masse and earmarked for disposal.

Following a public outcry, and a petition signed by more than 20,000 individuals, the Museum has agreed to keep the printed collections, but these will no longer be developed or added to, and the staff responsible for them will be cut – so the future of the collection is not secure.

IWM have this year also reduced their research services – entirely removing its telephone enquiry service, which handled 22,000 calls a year, and reducing the opening times and staffing of the Research Room, where printed books, oral history recordings and original documents are consulted.

A single staff member is now responsible for ensuring the security and safe handling of all material in use at any one time. It is almost like the care of printed and original archive material is no longer something the Museum cares about.

Most shockingly IWM also propose to introduce a charge to access the Research Room from September 2015. This means that Museum visitors wishing to learn more and consult the printed, sound and document collections will have to pay. And the proposed sums are hardly ‘norminal’ – with charges of £9 minimum and £14 a day suggested.

Letters, diaries and personal papers were deposited at IWM and sound recordings created in the belief that these would be preserved and made available to future generations – and the IWM is now betraying this trust.

Far from ‘engaging, inspiring and extending public understanding’ IWM’s actions are limiting learning opportunities at the museum. IWM recently proposed cutting their education services – and these have only been saved by LIBOR fines.

Up until recently IWM have had professional knowledgeable staff that visitors could speak to directly in order to find out more information about the displays, collections and topics covered by the Museum – either at the Museum or remotely by telephone. Removing these staff and services is a backwards step for engagement.

IWM cannot be ‘Museum of the Year’. Yes it has spent £40 million creating impressive new First World War galleries; Yes it is popular with UK visitors and tourists from around the world; But Museum of the Year?! The purpose of a museum is surely more than a single gallery – it is to preserve and make available our history. This year IWM has shown it can no longer be trusted to do this.

That is why I urge the Art Fund NOT to crown Imperial War Museum London as ‘Museum of the Year 2015’.

Your sincerely,

Rosie Eddisford

Librarian, formerly IWM Access Team Librarian

We would encourage supporters to continue to highlight how inappropriate it would be for IWM London to be awarded this title, given its recent attitude to collection care, collections access, engagement and learning and the actions it has proposed and/or initiated from November 2014 to date. Please write to the Art Fund, the prize judges and local & national press and share your views via social media and online. 

Imperial War Museum London is NOT ‘Museum of the Year’

The Art Fund’s ‘Museum of the Year’ prize aims to “champion what museums do”. Well if ‘what museums do’  is to dispose of accessioned collections, restrict, reduce and charge for access to collections held on behalf of the nation, and make information only available to those who can visit London or are online, then Imperial War Museum London (IWM) is certainly this year’s Museum of the Year.

But if we judge IWM using the Museums Association’s definition, ‘Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society’ then it would be a disgrace if they were to win this prestigious prize.

In a series of blog posts we will outline some of the reasons why IWM is not ‘Museum of the Year’… We would welcome your comments too.

1. Dispose of accessioned collections

In November 2014 IWM proposed disposing of its entire printed collections. The printed collections – estimated to be in excess of 320,000 items – are core museum collections acquired over a period of almost 100 years. The first printed item, a programme of the pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’ staged by the 85th Field Ambulance in Salonika, was added to the Museum collection in April 1917, within weeks of the founding of the Museum. The Museum’s first annual report shows the Library acquired in excess of 7000 items in 1917 alone, of which 5000 were donations.

Printed collections at the Bishopsgate Institute
Printed collections at the Bishopsgate Institute

Today the library holds a comprehensive collection of printed material covering all aspects of British and Commonwealth involvement in conflict since 1914 which is publically accessible to everyone. In a statement to the Museums Association IWM attempted to justify this disposal with references to “accessioned collection items” and “(non-accessioned) books”, as well as to “a programme of digitisation”. But this statement is wholly misleading, as it implies the Museum’s printed books collection is ‘non-accessioned’.

The Library collection was in fact ‘de-accessioned’ in 2011. As we understand it, the IWM Trustees agreed to this change in order to simplify the process of reviewing the Library collection. As part of the Museum-wide Collections Review each accessioned item would need to be assessed individually to ascertain if it fitted with the collection policy and should be retained. Therefore a decision was taken to ‘de-accession’ the majority of the Library collection so that these would not need to be reviewed as part of this process. The decision to ‘de-accession’ printed collections was not done to facilitate disposal.

It is outrageous that a national museum would release such a misleading statement, trying to use the so-called ‘non-accessioned’ status of the printed collection to infer that it is not important, not part of the core collection, and therefore expendable.

IWM Explore History centre
IWM Explore History centre

IWM’s reference to a programme of digitisation of core collections appears to be another attempt to mislead the Museum Association, and the public. There is no indication that IWM planned to digitise these 320,000 printed items . In fact the majority of the Museum’s printed collection is, of course, covered by UK copyright legislation, so it cannot legally be digitised at this time.

Despite the printed collections being hugely important, valuable ‘core’ Museum collections, IWM hoped to cherry-pick the most significant items from the collection, and dispose of the rest. It planned to dispose of a collection that includes regimental and unit histories, technical manuals, newspapers, trench journals, regimental magazines, biographies, autobiographies, Army, Navy and Air Force lists, orders and regulations, souvenirs, propaganda leaflets, ephemera, pamphlets and publications on the military, economic, social and cultural aspects of war. It planned to dispose of items collected during the First World War, and during every major conflict in which Britain has been involved since. It planned to dispose of printed material donated in the belief that the Museum would be a safe place for these items to be preserved.

If museums should, “collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens”, then a museum which has attempted to quietly dispose of its core, accessioned collections should NOT be crowned Museum of the Year.

IMAGES: 1.‘Archive of journals in the Bishopsgate Institute’ taken by Tom Morris (Own work) downloaded from  Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D  2.‘IWM EXPLORE HISTORY CENTRE, MARCH 2015’ © 2015 PETER DOYLE.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Anzac Day 2015: IWM should encourage use of its collections

I am writing this on Anzac Day 2015. One hundred years on from the First World War there is huge interest in the campaigns that were fought and – most of all – in those who fought. In order to facilitate this interest it needs to be easy for those researching those who served and any other conflict related topic to access the books, the archives, the photographs, the oral histories, the film and the artwork that will provide the information they need and send them on a journey of discovery. How the war is remembered once the centenary is over is also an important issue.

Anzac Day, Rangiora, New Zealand
Anzac Day, Rangiora, New Zealand

These are two of many reasons why I am concerned to hear that the Research Room of the Imperial War Museum is reducing hours and has plans to charge those who wish to use it. I am also concerned that remote enquiries are being discouraged. Times are hard and difficult decisions need to be made but reducing access to the most accessible collections and the staff who look after them strikes me as short sighted. How many people who could have been interested just won’t bother? How many people will have to choose between paying for a research session and having something to eat in the café or buying something in the shop? How many people will be frustrated because they can’t pick up the phone and ask experienced staff a question? How much goodwill will be lost?

Surely, during these centenary years and the ones after – which could well play an important part in shaping how the First World War is remembered for decades to come – the Museum should be encouraging people to make the best use of its most revealing collections?

‘Imperial’ isn’t a terribly popular word these days but it does remind us that the Imperial War Museum has a wider remit that just the UK. It covers all the Commonwealth nations – and much more than that with extensive holdings, certainly in the Library, relating to Germany, America, France and many other countries. Restricting access to the collections is an international issue.

Kat Moody, Librarian

Image – ‘Anzac Day’ © 2015 Kat Moody. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

IWM must reconsider deeply disturbing proposals

Over the last several years, the committee of the Historic Libraries Forum has been active in a number of campaigns to defend services in historic libraries, and to keep historic library collections together and accessible to the public. As such, recent events at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) fall into a pattern that is familiar to us; but they are nonetheless deeply disturbing.

It is good that the earlier fears, reported late last year, about outright closure of the IWM Library seem to be allayed. But the mooted changes—such as reduced opening hours, charges for access, and fewer staff—are a terrible blow to the library service and contrary to the Museum’s previously stated vision “to be recognised as the world’s leading authority on conflict and its impact”. Indeed, the apparent de-prioritization of the library and printed collections at the IWM does not bode well for an organization that claims to be the custodian for the collective memory of conflict and war.

Changes to library opening hours—with a reduction to opening four days a week, plus an hour’s closure for lunch—seem entirely out of keeping with the size and scale of the IWM’s collections and remit. Further, the adoption of such restricted opening at a major national public institution sets a worrying precedent for organizations of all sizes, potentially emboldening administrators elsewhere to cut opening hours while pointing at the IWM’s example. Although restricted opening hours are understandable at small organizations with relatively few staff and resources, this is hardly the case at the IWM.

The IWM is a major national public institution
IWM: a major national public institution

Most concerning of all are the suggestions that the Museum will introduce charges for access to the collections. The principle of free access to public collections is a cornerstone of democracy and inclusiveness; the symbolism of effectively putting the printed record of popular participation in war behind a paywall should give anyone pause for thought. Everyone, regardless of private wealth, should be able to access the public collections at the IWM. We have heard of charges up to £14 per person per day being discussed, which seem dreadfully high considering the budgetary restraints that affect most people in this country. On top of the reduction in opening hours, such a charge if implemented would have dreadful consequences for access, for research and potentially or wider social debate about conflict and war.

We hope that those responsible reconsider their proposals and move instead to supporting their professional staff to deliver the kind of library service that is in keeping with the history and mission of the Imperial War Museum.

The Committee of the Historic Libraries Forum

http://www.historiclibrariesforum.org.uk

Available… but at a price

As a regular patron of London’s libraries, museums and galleries the idea of charging for access to any special collections, let alone material as internationally important as that held by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) Library, is very upsetting.

But when I view it from the perspective of my day job, as a professional archivist, the issue becomes even more important. In fact, it becomes one of professional ethics.

In the Code of Ethics produced by the International Council on Archives, the role of the archivist in protecting material and making it accessible is clear to see:

     “Archivists should promote the widest possible access to archival material and provide an impartial service to all users.”

That’s the WIDEST possible access for ALL users.

But why did the ICA take such an open access view? Archives and special collections are just interesting for historians aren’t they? They don’t mean much to the rest of us, do they? Again, the ICA have the perfect retort for those who hold that view. They powerfully write:

     “Archives are witnesses to the past. They provide evidence, explanation and justification both for past actions and current decisions. Archives enable society to undertake a wide range of roles that enable civilised communities to take root and flourish, from enabling education and research, providing entertainment and leisure, to protecting human rights and confirming identity”.

Wow. Every time I read that statement I feel hugely privileged to call myself an archivist. And it’s also the reason that the suggestion of charging for access to written collections really frustrates and saddens me.

Archives are history

Archives and special collections allow the collective process of writing, rewriting, and reimagining the past which is essential for a functioning, united, civilised society. The materials aren’t just great for history students, they ARE history; they are our evidence that something happened.

Putting collections behind a pay wall seems to me like the easiest way to claim the materials, and the library, aren’t of any interest to wider society. As a publicly funded institution IWM should be championing access to knowledge for everyone, not restricting it to those who can afford it.

This is why I’m against the idea of paying to access the archives and special collections of any public institution.

Nicky Hilton

Archivist, Bishopsgate Institute

IMAGE:  ARCHIVES © 2015 Nicky Hilton.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Cuts to research services at Imperial War Museum: update

Research services at Imperial War Museum (IWM) are being cut. The Museum’s ‘Research Facilities’ webpage has been updated to reflect the fact that the Research Room at IWM London will now be closed on Fridays and will close daily between 1 – 2pm.

The Research Room provides access to the Museum’s collections of original archive documents, sound archive oral history recordings, the Library’s published collections, digital resources and the War Artists Archive. This facility is open to all and attracts a wide range of researchers, from academics and historians to museum visitors and those with a casual interest.

The introduction of a two session day, with a morning session 10am – 1pm and an afternoon session  2 – 5pm, will be incredibly disruptive to visitors who will have their research interrupted, yet the closure hour will result in little monetary saving for IWM.

There has been no public consultation on any of these changes IWM are introducing and the views of Research Room visitors have not been sought.

Worryingly the introduction of a lunch time closure period suggests that IWM may be intending to reduce staffing in the Research Room entirely, since the sessions  10am – 1pm and 2 – 5pm could now be staffed by a single individual. This raises questions around whether the security and appropriate handling of such precious, often unique, material can be guaranteed if a single staff member is expected to supervise and assist all researchers while working alone in the Research Room.

The SaveIWMLibrary supporters would be particularly interested to hear views on this subject from individuals who have donated material to IWM.

We are also alarmed to note that from now on “Booking is not possible by telephone”, so only those with internet access and IT skills will be able to book an appointment to visit the Research Room and consult the Museum’s collections. Museums should be promoting inclusion, but providing a service online-only risks digitally excluding some individuals. While many older people will be able to book appointments online, this group are often those least able to use new technology. And those at risk of being excluded therefore includes individuals who experienced the Second World War, those who created the documents, those who donated collections and those who may benefit from accessing the Research Room.

The withdrawal of the telephone enquiry service for Research Room appointments may well also signal the end of the Museum’s popular telephone enquiry service. The telephone enquiry service, which handled 22,000 remote enquiries in 2013/14, assisted callers with historical enquiries, collections queries about items from across the Museum’s collecting departments, visitor information, family history advice and was often the first port of call for potential donors, in addition to booking research appointments. The service never provided in-depth research on behalf of enquirers, but was a useful information source.

At no point in this process of their ‘Change Programme’ have IWM been forthcoming regarding plans for the remote enquiry service. No clear proposals were presented to the Library staff’s union Prospect. Again the lack of transparency and publicly shared information from IWM is shocking. There was no reference to the enquiry service in the only public document IWM have released. However, it is now increasingly looking as if this service has been quietly despatched.

The enquiry service telephone number appears to have been removed from IWM’s website, with only the switchboard number remaining. Clicking on the ‘telephone number’ link on IWM’s ‘Contact Us’ webpage now takes you to this rather useless, and seemingly unfinished, webpage:  www.iwm.org.uk/global-tags/telephone-number where it states that, “If you have a query you might find our online resources helpful”.

Although the new opening hours are now live on IWM’s website, we believe these will actually be introduced on Monday 13th April. A charge for entry to the Research Room is due to be introduced in September 2015. IWM have as yet provided no information about the future of the remote enquiry service.

If you have concerns about these cuts, please Get involved with the campaign or Contact us if you wish to contribute to the blog.