I wrote to IWM setting out concerns about the closure of the IWM Library to which they responded. However, as the letter was marked ‘Personal’ they are not happy for me to include it on the GWAA site. Instead they have directed me to share the following letter which explains what their forthcoming plans are.
If you are concerned about the changes, there are a number of petitions circulating as you may already be aware as well as an open letter which I have copied below for anyone who wishes to use it.
Following your article, ‘Imperial War Museum will charge for services’ (24 February 2015), which revealed the museum plans to introduce a fee of up to £14 a day, for use of its research room, and reduce its opening hours, we would like to express our deep concern for these measures.
The printed material, unpublished documents and oral histories, available for consultation in the research room, is a world-class collection. It covers every level of wartime experience, from letters scribbled by a private in the trenches of the First World War through to regimental histories of the armed forces.
This collection has been the bedrock of thousands of history books on twentieth-century warfare. These proposals will deter many researchers and serve only to impair our understanding of modern warfare.
The timing of this is particularly unfortunate. We are a hundred years on from the First World War and seventy years on from the end of the Second World War. More and more of those who lived through the Second World War are disappearing from our world. This is the time when the Imperial War Museum should be doing everything to ensure their voices continue to be heard.
The changes are expected to come into play in April. Bookings for the reading room are being done as staff become aware of what is happening so best to email your request. The Reading Room will only be open 4 days a week but which days is still not clear.
Photocopies etc are taking a long while to get done – from my recent visit, there is at least a 10 week wait.