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Wyre Forest authors fear for library's archive
‘Valuable’ facility: Archive users, from left, Melvyn Thompson, Don Gilbert, Nigel Knowles, Betty Park and Nigel Gilbert. Picture: MIRIAM BALFRY. 011309M.
A GROUP of 30 Wyre Forest authors and researchers have teamed up to sign a letter outlining concerns about the future of Kidderminster Library’s “invaluable” archive collection.
Worcestershire County Council announced a review of the material will begin this month as part of controversial plans to relocate the building’s top-floor gallery to the first floor where the collections are housed.
But this has sparked fears that much of Kidderminster’s past could remain “undiscovered” and in an open letter to the county council, users say they are worried that more than a century’s worth of work could be “thrown away”.
A council spokesman said the review – which could see material moved to the Hive at Worcester – would be based on demand data and members of Wyre Forest’s history community would be consulted, although the letter says that has not yet happened.
“The expectation is that all Wyre Forest-related material, including the photographic collection, will be retained in [Kidderminster] library,” added the spokesman.
Kidderminster author Nigel Gilbert, who has had six books published, said: “There is a real threat to the material and a lot of people are worried.
“The collection has been built up since the 19th century and we want to make people aware of its value.
“A lot of books have been written about Kidderminster in recent years as a result of people using the material.”
The archive contains a number of books, photographs and microfilm, which include back copies of The Shuttle and microfilmreading machines.
“If the collection goes to The Hive we will vote with our feet,” added Mr Gilbert.
“A lot of work will just not get done and a lot of things will remain undiscovered.”
He added: “If anything, more space is required. Those of us who use it regularly know it has been run down for a long time – the space is very small and it’s getting noisier and noisier.”
The proposals are part of the libraries and learning service’s requirements to save £1.8 million from its budget over three years.
READ A COPY OF THE LETTER HERE