UCL News


An open letter to Ken Livingston, Mayor of London

8 September 2005

From an open letter to Ken Livingstone.

Published in the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals 'Update' journal, September 2005. Liz Chapman (UCL Library Services) draws attention to the Mayor's apparent lack of awareness of the diversity of London's academic libraries and offers to help revise his 'Study London' brochure that encourages international students to come to London.

Dear Ken,

International students
I know that you, like me, want to encourage students from other countries to come to London. You tell them in your Study London brochure what they will find here and mention an eclectic mix of libraries: the Wellcome, The Science Museum … the London Library …and the British Library ... Finally I am pleased to see you mention a library in a University - the Women's Library at London Metropolitan University, but unfortunately you forget to mention that it is a University Library. So how about a word or two on the libraries in further and higher education in London which students can use?

Student life in London
… We support student courses and underpin the work needed for teaching and research. ... UCL has amongst its 15 sites across London joint libraries for example at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital … and Great Ormond Street ... We have librarians who directly support doctors and doctors in training and show them how to use the many electronic information services they need to know about in their work. Other librarians work on website advice on specialist medical charities that patients can contact. …

Working together
… in London the pace has been set for the rest of the country by the M25 Consortium. 50 Institutions, with 150 libraries between them, make their joint 25 million volumes available to each other's members. …Of the 1 million people who use our consortium libraries each year, more than a fifth of them are from outside Higher Education. Our members while being mostly from universities include the V&A Library, the Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Imperial War Museum.

Only a short while ago in early May, speaking about the British Library's £1m grant from your London Development Agency, given for development of business information services, you once again described London as the knowledge capital of the world. We agree - but think you should know more of its richness and diversity.

… We would certainly welcome a visit from you and indeed offer our services to help write the next version of your Study London brochure. In Libraries we do much to support Widening Participation work, another of your declared interests, and at UCL we are also raising funds for a new building to open up our museums and library special collections to the public. We also welcome London citizens during the 'Open House' days each autumn.

Do let us know when you need more information. We shall be happy to provide it. I know that my colleagues in Public Libraries in London would be equally happy to help.

Yours sincerely,

Ms EA Chapman (Deputy Director of UCL Library Services)