Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Concern over Northamptonshire County Council's stewardship of the John Clare archive

There was a letter in the Guardian today from some of the literary great and good expressing concern at plans to downgrade Northampton's central library:
This library is home to many a unique resource pertaining to Northamptonshire history and culture, but we are specifically concerned about the John Clare collection – arguably the world’s greatest archive of the poet’s manuscripts, of his books, and of a wide collection of unique ephemera and publications by or about Clare. The collection is used by international scholars and artists of all kinds, and has been a hub and stimulus of activity in response to this increasingly significant poet for many decades. 
The collection at Northampton has always been maintained by expert, attentive, scholarly librarians, who do their level best with scant resources to make this publicly owned archive available to readers and researchers of all kinds. Our central concern here is that – given the size of the cuts planned, and the loss of staff and expertise delivered by all of the council’s options – there will be a permanently detrimental effect upon the care and curation of the Clare collection. 
John Clare's literary stock has been rising and rising for years. You can read all about him on the John Clare Society website.

All local authorities are facing enormous financial pressure, but it is notable that yesterday Sajid Javid announced an inquiry into the finances of the Conservative-run Northamptonshire County Council, which runs the library.

Meanwhile, a police investigation of a loan made by Northampton Borough Council (also run by the Tories) to the town's football club continues.

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