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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Palin’

Exhibiting the John Murray Archive

The Scotsman reports on the John Murray Archive exhibition at the National Library of Scotland, which is doing everything in its power to bring alive the 150,000 documents and papers in the archive for which it paid £31 million 18 months ago. Original letters from Charles Darwin, David Livingstone, Lord Byron, and others are on show with sophisticated touch screens, interactive sound effects, and false windows made from flat-screen televisions. Martyn Wade, the library’s chief executive, said: “This is to encourage people who would not normally go into the reading room, people that wonder what the archive’s about. It’s important that they can actually look at the originals.”

The exhibition was opened yesterday by writer, broadcaster and former Python Michael Palin. “For a traveller and a writer like myself the John Murray archive is a mouth-watering prospect,” he said.

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Expect to Pay at the British Library

Thanks to the prospect of serious cuts – potentially up to 7 percent of its 100 million pound annual budget – the British Library is about to engage in some drastic measures. The Independent reports that in order to survive, the library proposes to slash opening hours by more than a third and to charge researchers for admission to the reading rooms for the first time. All public exhibitions would close, along with schools learning programs. The permanent collection, which includes a copy of every book published in the UK, would be permanently reduced by 15 per cent. And the national newspaper archive, used by 30,000 people a year, including many researching their family trees, would close.

The reaction has been swift and angry. Award-winning author Margaret Drabble, who is currently using the library for research, said: “It would be a very great mistake and tragic to make cuts. It is a great national institution and it is used by scholars from all over the world.” Ex-Monty Python star Michael Palin, who is a patron of the library, said it was a “precious and thrilling resource” that needs to be looked after. Even the House of Lords is up in arms, but the Department for Culture says the expected cuts will mean that more savings need to be made. A spokesman said: “The cultural sector has had huge real-terms increases in funding since 1997. Clearly, this cannot go on indefinitely.”