But see May 2014 http://www.ivorcatt.co.uk/x43g.pdf
The barrier to advance is applied by (1) the learned journal referee system and (2) the publisher of the "text book". In the case of Inglis, we see a bureaucrat confronted by a new information technology (the www) and searching around for a way to apply censorship. As he told me, he has decided to ride on the back of the two previously mentioned censoring systems.
There are two reasons for censoring; (1) not swamping the reader with drivel, and (2) the cost of publishing too much. In the case of Inglis and www, he specifically repudiated the publication of heresy even if it was self-financing, or even brought profit to British Library. Thus, his loyalty to the censors took precedence over his loyalty to his alleged role as an information flow and record expeditor. It also took precedence over his interest in the financial viability of the British Library.
I approached the British Library (BL) and also the Copyright Library with a proposal, Permaweb, [permanently endowed text on a website controlled by BL] which allegedly would bring riches to the British Library, which, because of its greater guarantee of permanence as an institution, was in an ideal position to exploit Permaweb. For two years, all sectors of these two institutions insisted on not admitting that I had approached them. I put this onto my website. After a delay of two years, David Inglis, Director of the BL Digital Library Programme, (firstname.lastname@example.org) proposed that we meet. I then outlined Permaweb to him by email, and suggested that, having the information, perhaps a meeting was unnecessary. (I believe the idea is easy to understand.) He replied that we should still meet. David came out of the Publishing industry four years before. When considering BL's approach to the burgeoning Electronic Information (as compared with traditional book information), Inglis trawled for a method for censoring, or limiting, BL's commitment. I proposed that Permaweb would be financed by the suppliers of the electronic information. He rejected self-financed and self-endowed (permanently financed) information, saying he would in preference rely on existing censoring (refereeing) procedures which applied to previous information banks. I had told Inglis that, presented with the problem of censorship twenty years ago, I had become a publisher, in order to, at a cost, place a copy of each of my blocks of information (turned into a book for the purpose) into the British Library. This had been expensive. With Permaweb, I would merely need to endow BL's Permaweb with a few kilobytes of electronic storage. Inglis refused, saying this was outside the remit of BL. I said that since Thatcher, government institutions were supposed to exploit relevant activities which would raise funds, reducing their drain on the taxpayer. Still, Inglis refused, saying that Permaweb was a matter for private, not government, exploitation. I said that that was a dead option, because not permanent, which permanence was the objective of Permaweb. Inglis also ruled out a private (profit making) venture in a joint venture with BL. I maintained that the imprimatur of BL was needed to ensure permanence. This, Inglis refused, regardless of the profitability of the venture for BL. He said it did not come within BL's remit. Thus, he would not deliver BL's permanence, even if it meant profit for BL. There we ended.
I believe that this exercise proved, yet again, that institutions are not financially motivated. The fear of being associated with heresy very much overrules any financial imperative. (Inglis, having associsated himself with heresy, would become unemployable.)
The same culture which supports Inglis's position also supports a totally contradictory position, through its educational institutions, which is exemplified by Popper ("Conjectures and Refutations", progress by means of destruction [of the journal referee's career] ), Kuhn and Polanyi. That is, the idea that an advance will not be comprehended by a referee (the censor chosen by Inglis) is now taught throughout the land, and thoughout the world. M. Polanyi, "Personal Knowledge", RKP 1958/73, p151, makes this position clear. T S Kuhn "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", pub. University of Chicago Press 1962/70, pp109, 132, 148, repeatedly makes the same point; (p132) "Nevertheless, the two men necessarily talked through each other, and their debate was entirely inconclusive. Kuhn and Polanyi assert that, in incomprehension, each side imputes incompetence to the other. Polanyi p151; "Such comprehensive rejection cannot fail to discredit the opponent. He will be made to appear thoroughly deluded, which in the heat of the battle will easily come to imply that he was a a fool, a crank or a fraud." (Also see p147.)
The Inglis decision establishes that, whatever new information storage or transmission capabilities may arise, the existing censorship procedures will be transferred to them, regardless of financial considerations. Thus, loyalty to an entrenched rump will be maintained, and progress blocked. The financial argument is bogus, and we are left with tribal loyalty, or rather, fear of the unknown. The Enlightenment is over, and we live in a medaeval society.
(See the three articles entitled "The Conquest of ...." and also "The Diagonal", also my lecture "The Politics of Knowledge", on my website www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/ )
Ivor Catt 16feb01
----- Original Message -----
From: Ivor Catt <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2001 9:51 PM
> I proposed "Permaweb" to BL frequently over a period of two years. See
> I am told that you will archive websites which you select for their
> historical and cultural significance for a trial perior of six months.
> I established over a period of two years culminating with an interview with
> your colleague Inglis, that British Library would resist any financial
> advantage in order to remain a partisan supporter of every entrenched,
> censoring Establishment.
> Now that you are in a position to take a fresh look at the matter, choice of
> website for archiving by you will be based on either
> a) your judgement as to which websites are or will be "of historical and
> cultural significance", i.e. will support the policy of the ruling elite and
> the image they wish to preserve for posterity, or
> b) your judgement as to which websites will financially advantage British
> Library rather than disadvantage it, or
> c) both
> It is an important message for BL to convey to the hordes of suppressed
> groups throughout Britain and throughout the world that the British Library
> will not censor those with informational material if it could profit
> financially by cooperating with them. Under the new technologies, censored
> individuals and groups can easily afford to endow permanent www locations
> under the aegis of BL. Potentially, BL could not only become self-financing,
> but it could also bring major further income to the Exchequer, running to
> billions of pounds per year. This is a fringe benefit to BL on account of
> its reputation as the institution most likely to survive for some centuries
> into the future, so that it will capture the massive world market for
> Permweb - permanently endowed www information.
> Inglis showed that he had personally fully recovered from the Thatcher era,
> of public/private partnership, and of trying to minimise government
> spending. He was absolutely convinced that any financial input from a
> dissident website shut out by his chosen reviewing process - publishing
> house or learned body - was not a proper source for improving the finances
> of the British Library and of the government. Thus, Inglis saw the role of
> the British Library as primarily one of
> (a) censorship rather than of
> (b) communication coupled with maintaining BL's economic viability.
> Inglis was perfectly happy for me to continue using an older technology; to
> assemble suppressed material into my self-published books, published by my
> own private "poublishing house", to be compulsorily accepted into BL with
> resulting archiving cost to BL, but would not countenance the new, much
> simpler and more profitable (for BL) process of accepting electronic
> information along with a cheque from me.
> Your decision in this matter will be part of a historic process which will
> be studied a hundred years from now, and can already be studied on my
> website at http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/12126.htm
> Ivor Catt 121 Westfields, St. Albans AL3 4JR tel 01727 864257
The British Library Newsletter No. 5 Winter 1992, p1 "The Future of the British Library", by Dr. Brian Lang, who took over as Chief Executive of the British Library …. On 1july91 ….
[p2] "…. The Library cannot expect all support to come from the Government and we shall continue to pursue joint ventures with the private sector to improve our resources. …."
Early this year, in our one hour meeting, David Inglis specifically ruled out the possibility of a potentially very lucrative "…. joint venture(s) with the private sector to improve our resources …." if the private sector was represented by a Permaweb company set up by Ivor Catt and Gerry Wolff <firstname.lastname@example.org> of Bangor University. The reason is that Inglis believed that the British Library's loyalty to censoring Establishments was more important than the economic viability of the British Library. (This was not the option preferred by Ivor Catt, but he was willing to pursue it if Inglis, pp the British Library, refused to contemplate the possibility of the British Library going it alone.)
Ivor Catt 31may01
Dear Ivor Catt
Sorry; I wasn't certain that you required a response to your previous email.
The websites project I am involved with at the moment is a 6-months pilot
dependent on the voluntary agreement of the approached publishers and we are
not permitted to give access to the public at this stage to any of the
whacked files, and we are not 'hosting' them in any sense of the word. The
model we are investigating is the PANDORA project in Australia.
We are experimenting with only 100 sites, some selected for historical or
cultural significance - from most political parties during the election to
reclaimthestreets, but others from suggestions eg. anti-bullying. The main
part of the project is to develop selection criteria but we are also
interested in the technicalities - the effectiveness of automatic whacking,
site size and changes, plugins, links etc.
Stephen Bury 1june01
To Miss Millikan, Secretary to Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive, British Library.
Following our telephone conversation today 18june01 (your no. 020 7412 7264), you confirmed that in response to an email from me (this is it) I would get a definitive response from Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive, British Library, that the proposals for "Permaweb" had been fully rejected by the British Library.
A sufficient amount of material on Permaweb, including specification and emails to and from BL officials, can be found on my website at
where this email will be added.
[9july01 letter from Crump to Catt at bottom of this email. Analysis also at bottom of this email.]
……4th copy. Fourth copy sent to Fiona, 27july01
……3rd copy. Third copy sent to Fiona, cc Crump, 14july01
----- Original Message -----
From: Ivor Catt <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2001 8:43 PM
Subject: Fw: permaweb
> Second copy sent 5july01. cc Mike Crump. BL.
> Ivor Catt.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Ivor Catt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: <email@example.com>
…… 1st copy > Sent: Monday, June 18, 2001 4:17 PM
> Subject: permaweb
> > To Miss Millikan, Secretary to Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive, British
> > Library.> > Following our telephone conversation today 18june01 (your no. 020 7412
> > 7264), you confirmed that in response to an email from me (this is it) I
> > would get a definitive response from Lynne rindley, Chief Executive, British
> > Library, that the proposals for "Permaweb" had been fully rejected by the
> > British Library.
> > A sufficient amount of material on Permaweb, including specification and
> > emails to and from BL officials, can be found on my website at
> > http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/12125.htm
> > where this email will be added.
> > http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/permaw.htm
> > http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/05076.htm
[14july01. On 16july01 Mike Crump of BL will make a presentation to readers at 14.30 in the BL Auditorium to "discuss future collection policies". - I Catt]
[9july01 letter from Mike Crump to I Catt;
Dear Mr Catt, Thank you for the material that you sent me on 6th July. I note that you await a response on Permaweb from the Chief Executive, Lynne Brindley. It would be inappropriate for me to pre-empt that decision. Yours sincerely, M J Crump, Director, Reader Services & Collection Development.]
My book "Computer Worship", pub. Pitman 1973, p48, bears on the problem faced by functionaries in BL, particularly the most senior. Also of course my (later published) lecture "Management Against Innovation" for the Butler-Cox Foundation, in around 1970. I have researched and published on this problem for a third of a century. For instance, "The Fettered Giant", The Spectator, 2mar74, p275.
First I should add an epigram which has probably been published by me occasionally, but may not have been. It derives from my study of hi-tec companies, but it would be even more appropriate for a low-tec institution like BL.
"Any attempt to influence a management decision on the basis of technological considerations is a political move against the established management structure of the Company." I have recited this epigram for decades.
Discussing the bolshie reaction to the Permaweb proposal by BL functionaries - for two years every official insisted on not admitting that I had approached him - and now Chief Executive Lynne Bradley is doing the same, (cf 18june01, 5july01, 14july01,) - with a colleague, he told me that the profession of Librarianship would not map onto the exploitation of hi-tec opportunities. (He also cited their suicide rate, for some reason.)
I myself had not linked the behaviour of BL with my research into hi-tec companies, because I assumed that in the case of such a massive opportunity as Permaweb seemed to offer, the usual "sociology of industry" limitations and barriers (which caused Britain to get out of hi-tec, because those barriers are somewhat higher in the UK than elsewhere,) would not apply. However, I was obviously wrong.
We now have to discuss what would happen to BL Chief Executive Lynne Bradley as an individual if BL played footsie with Permaweb. Her future would be very uncertain, whether Permaweb proved successful or a failure. Galbraith said "Power is where the most complex decision making is." Perhaps a "Glass ceiling" totem, she would already be having trouble coping with the complexities of her role. The concatenation of further hi-tec dimensions would sink her as an individual, even if Permaweb brought in an income of billions. (However, it should be said that at a time when women did not exist in hi-tec management, already technology-free male managers were threatened by hi-tec opportunities. "Computer Worship" did not consider the (then non-existent) gender factor, which exacerbates an already chronic problem). (Actually, Permaweb is not hi-tec, but it would be hi-tec enough to overwhelm the senior functionaries in BL who had reached their position for capabilities quite different from mastery of www ramifications.) The problem is that, successful or not, she would find herself in meetings where she could not grasp the issues, and could not contribute to the necessary decision making. Thus, Permaweb is the Cuckoo's Egg. Once it got into BL, even as a small feasibility study, it would threaten to take over the management. This is because it carries a two-pronged threat; (1), the details are difficult, because foreign, for a librarian expert, and (2) Permaweb threatens massive profit, and so, using the Galbraith epigram, threatens to usurp power and control.
[Mike Crump is the clever one. His 9 july01 letter (above) should ensure his survival, whatever happens to Permaweb. Bureaucrats who want to survive can learn from him.]
Ivor Catt 14july01
16june01 2.30pm. The date of a meeting in the BL Auditorium.
Help shape our future: The British Library's Strategy Consultation
I have a brochure covering this meeting.
THE BRITISH LIBRARY
Help shape our future
The British Library is responding to the changing needs of our present and future users. The electronic world willenable more people toi make better use of our services, and we want your comments on our strategic ideas.
If you use the Library, or think you might want to do so in future, please visit our website at www.bl.uk from 4 June for:
Visit the website now, fill in the survey and encourage others to send in their responses. The bigger the response the clearer the message!
Visit www.bl.uk from 4 June to 3 August to tell us what you think. Etc.
etc. [Quote from there; "Making best use of our resources We
will: Generate new revenue opportunities as we focus on emerging user needs,
develop the British Library brand, licence digital content, and exploit other
opportunities presented by the (www)…..] [Another quote; "The Web
Migrate our traditional service offerings to the Web wherever appropriate, in accordance with users’ requirements Provide new services which we could not offer without the Web Increase our user base via the Web "]
As part of that consultation, Mike Crump with Geoff Smith held a meeting in the Auditorium. Mike said that he had sent out 23,000 notifications. This resulted in a room containing nine people.
Crump emphasised the problem of cost. BL budget did not increase although the volume of material generated did.
Of three items he flagged up, the second, "help address pressures upon acquisitions budgets" was, he said, the most important, plus "take account of electronic material (but printed material volume had not reduced).
Inability to cope with the material that they would like to meant that greater cooperation with other libraries was essential, and that BL should ask govt to forward some of the BL budget to those other libraries if they were helping BL by their cooperation. Crump particularly cited Wellcome, 300 yards away, for taking over BL's commitment to archive "history of medicine". Crump said Wellcome were doing a lot better than BL.
Crump mentioned that due to Foot and Mouth, campaigning during the recent
General Election had been largely by the www. He raised the question as to whether such www material had been captured, as it surely needed to be.
Crump said that the govt's and BL's view was that their primary mission was to support research activities. He saw BL as primarily needing to link strongly with research institutions and their libraries.
I said that Crump would allow Wellcome to control (rewrite) the history of medicine if Wellcome put in a million pounds, that Wellcome would rewrite the history of AZT. However, BL would not allow small dissident groups, for instance the dissident Foot and Mouth website, to buy its way into the BL archives. He said he had referred to Foot and Mouth from the point of view of its affecting electioneering. I said that, however, he had mentioned Foot and Mouth, and that the main source of information was from a dissident website. Did BL think it had no role to play in preserving such dissident websites. I said that when someone created information, they wanted to communicate and to record, and that that cost them money. I was sure that they would deliver a little further money to BL to ensure the saving of that information. With electronic information, that could be done cheaply. Crump made play with the distinction between archiving and saving. He also said he suspected that in the end, it would prove to be more costly to archive electronic information than paper information. I said I needed that in writing. He said it was only his opinion. I asked if I could get the full BL opinion, because it had never occurred to me that digital information was expensive compared with paper. I then said that my co-author Malcolm Davidson has designed and built Sony's digital archive, and then proceeded to build an identical one in Europe. What would be the procedure for me to arrange a conversation between Malcolm Davidson and BL?
Crump said there was new management, and that if I approached him in November, he would so advise me, also as to whether BL thought the recording of digital info. was more expensive than recording paper.
Of the nine people present in the room two were the speakers, and others were the speaker's' friends, librarians at LSE. I believe that apart from me, there was either one BL user, or none. Thus, at a meeting intended for users, it was difficult for Crump to tell me not to hog too much time. The meeting ended up more or less totally for me, since I have a library card, and use the library.
Afterwards, chatting to a library user at the cycle sheds, he said that he didn't go to such consultations, since they turned out to be BL telling users what they would get.
Crump, Geoff Smith, and, I suspect, the whole of BL had no idea of the breaches of principle that BL would make if they farmed out some of their responsibility to Wellcome. They obviously thought that a big institution (Glaxo-Wellcome) with a big library was kosher, and would act in the public interest. My website calls Wellcome "dealers in death", over their assault on HIV positives with their lethal AZT, which is now, at last, discredited even in PC articles. Crump does not know that Wellcome suppressed Duesberg's complaint that AZT was a killer for more than a decade, and so killed many more people. Crump does not know that the very idea of Wellcome having any control of the history of medicine is ludicrous. The general impression of Crump and Smith was that they were holed up in libraries, and had no idea of the real world outside. However, another possibility is that they were savvy enough to know that BL should nestle up to the big players with big money; that any touching base with dissidents would lead to BL getting a smaller payoff from antisocial big businesses like Wellcome. (One thinks with horror of whether Crump would think that Philip Morris had a better archive on the history of tobacco than BL, and so would receive some of BL's funding in return for covering for BL's desire to be more comprehensive in this field. Not knowing about the scurrilous behaviour of Wellcome, he may have stepped outside of his library long enough to notice that the tobacco industry is under a cloud, and not to be trusted when it comes to what is fact and what is propaganda.
I now think that Permaweb is a non-starter for two reasons. Firstly, no librarian has the intellectual capacity to grasp it. Secondly, should he have, he would realise that Permaweb is the cuckoo's egg, and if it made any inroad into BL, even in a feasibility study, the entrenched, technology-free librarians would lose control to the technocrats.
I was told that the BL Chief Executive for many years was a non-librarian man. He went and at the start of this year was replaced by a librarian woman. She then cleaned out the four people beneath her. Thus, the idea of doing anything with technology is particularly threatening at this time.
Ivor Catt 16june01
Secretary to British Library Chief Executive
To Fiona; Please send a copy to Mike Crump of BL. Thank you. Ivor Catt
Dear Peter Duesberg,
In pursuing "Permaweb" with the British Library (BL), I came upon some
extraordinary information at their lecture two days ago, which will interest
you greatly. The upshot is that BL boast that they may hand over control of
the "History of Medicine" section of British Library to Wellcome 300 yards
away, and further, they are of a mind to forward some of their government
archiving funds to Wellcome to help them to do it. Their argument is that BL
cannot afford to cover its broad objective as a library of record, so they
plan to offload portions of their responsibility to specialist institutions
who are more expert, and are already doing it better.
This means that Wellcome would control the selection, archiving, referencing
of the history of AZT (which earns them one billion dollars per year, and is
now accepted even by the PC lobby to be lethal, after suppressing you for
trying to point this out and thereby killing many thousands more people in
the decade when they suppressed you). Further, presumably BL would fund NIH
to select, archive and reference BL's historical record of your role in the
history of medicine.
I think Crump and the rest of BL are criminally naive. However, there is a
more sinister interpretation, which is that BL (and employees' salaries)
will be the better if they toady up to the richest institutions in each
field. In the same meeting, two days ago, BL again said they would refuse
comment on "Permaweb", which would enable dissident groups to pay BL a small
amount of money to file a small amount of dissident information permanently.
Note that in taking this stance, they are turning away income, which I
believe could be massive. At the same time, they argue that financial
limitations cause them to toady up to the big, murderous, censoring shysters
like Wellcome. (As to Permaweb, Mike Crump of BL evades involvement by
saying that I am awaiting a decision by the Chief Executive of BL. The fact
is, she remains incommunicado, as the websites below will show you.)
BL's ignorance of Wellcome's track record will make them unable to
understand the point I am making. So for their benefit, I suggest that by
the same logic they will fund American Tobacco or Philip Morris to take over
the selection and preservation of the history of tobacco. Incarcerated in
their dusty library, they may however have heard that in the world outside
there is a contretemps between the US govt and the tobacco industry. Thus,
BL would take the side of the tobacco industry against their main funders,
the UK govt (and use govt money to fund the govt's opponents), who with the
US govt are opposed to tobacco. I find it incredible that the library
community, at its summit, which is BL, has no contact with these ideas.
However, having listened to them and interrogated them for more than an hour
two days ago, I tend to think they are just highly salaried babes in the
wood. I strongly recommend, through a copy of this email to the secretary to
their Chief Executive, that the Chief Executive send at least one member of
her staff to the conference on censorship which I am chairing at Friends
House, next door to Wellcome and 300 yards from BL, on 15sep01, see
ignorance is so serious that we would welcome one representative to our
conference as my guest, although it would be very cheap (20 pounds each) for
further staff from BL.
It beggars belief. Ivor Catt 18july01
Details on Permaweb and BL's response;
I should have mentioned that attempts to distinguish between
Glaxo-Wellcome and Wellcome Foundation won't wash. I was present when
Wellcome Foundation held a seminar to mislead teachers over AIDS and AZT,
chaired by Margaret Jay in Wellcome HQ on Euston Rd. The scandal had just
broken in the Sunday Times, so Margaret Jay called the Sunday Times "The
tabloid press", and all information on what The Sunday Times (= Neville
Hodgkinson) had written was withheld. Your views were totally suppressed -
and this was in Wellcome Foundation, not Wellcome (later to become
Jay is married to "a leading AIDS researcher". Either the Anderson of Oxford
scandal or the other Oxford Anderson spoke at her seminar. At the seminar
chaired by Jay, Anderson the epidemiologist who spoke at length wilfully
misled the audience about the spread of AIDS. (I repeat, this was a Wellcome
Foundation seminar.) At the interval, I asked him to say when he continued
his speech more clearly whether the countries where he had shown, on the map
displayed, certain HIV percentages, had established these using an HIV test.
He undertook to do so, but then he did not. He was playing the classic scare
card of massive AIDS in obscure countries, which the WHO always plays to
fend off a new scandal about WHO corruption.
In any case, Wellcome was only used as a (very unfortunate) illustration of
policy by Mike Crump of BL.
Ivor Catt 18july01
From Theocharis, 27july01
Thanks for the extraordinary and important information regarding the "hand over [of] control of the "History of Medicine" section of British Library (BL) to Wellcome 300 yards away, and further, [that] they (BL) are of a mind to forward some of their government archiving funds to Wellcome to help them to do it".
Here is some more relevant extraordinary information regarding the already accomplished hand-over of control by the UK government (arguably the most dishonest in the history of the world, and certainly the most reactionary since the 1930s) of vital public services to (the as you indicate possibly mass-murderous) Wellcome.
The visitor to the web-site http://www.psci-com.org.uk/ is greeted as follows:
<<Welcome to psci-com.
psci-com - A gateway to public understanding of science and science communication information on the Internet.
psci-com, Public COMmunication of SCIence is a searchable catalogue of internet resources, that have been selected and catalogued by Information Officers at the Wellcome Trust for the benefit of the UK public understanding of science community.>>
The Science Museum is the UK national museum of science, technology, medicine, and industry. From its web-site http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/wellcome-wing/splash_ie.html:
<<The Wellcome Wing is now open to the public.
The Science Museum's spectacular new Wellcome Wing is devoted entirely to contemporary science and technology.>>
<<The Wellcome Trust, the world's largest medical research charity, has reportedly earmarked £300 million (US$420 million) for a bid to convert the riverside site (Millennium Dome) into laboratories and an exhibition space featuring the trust's work.>> PETER ALDHOUS, "Millennium Dome sees signs of a Wellcome break", Nature 412, 258 (2001) 19 July 2001
I telephoned the secretary to the Chief Executive. She said she had seen copies of material on my case. I told her that I needed a definitive rejection of the Permaweb proposals. Would an email from me to her making that request secure the rejection from the BL Chief Executive? She said yes, so on 18june01 I sent her such an email, also including it at the end of 12125 on my website. [28aug01. Still no comprehensive rejection of Permaweb from the BL Chief Executive.] [28aug01. See "British Library in Peril", below.]
Electromagnetic Theory. The Catt Anomaly.
My Dublin friend got me to promise to leave Huxley for a year, to give him time to take action over the Catt Anomaly. He has taken no action, and the year has run out.
I went to the Royal Society HQ to look at their Rules of Conduct for members, and for the President, which is what Huxley was. The Rules seemed to have nothing that could put pressure on an RS President or ex-President to do something about a problem like The Catt Anomaly. Next time, I shall ask to see their 300 year old Royal Charter, to see if it requires them to do something.
British Library in Peril.
---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Dr M. Hannoosh" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001 16:41:51 +0100 (BST)
Dear Dr Theocharis,
Thank you for your message about my letter to The Independent. I
am happy to forward it to Ivor Catt as you request. I am very concerned
about this issue and if you know others who are as well, I have no
objection to your sending it to them. The electronic version is slightly
longer than the one which was printed, for the editors cut that one (hence
a nonsensical double verb in one place!).
14 August 2001
Editor, Times Literary Supplement
1 Canada Square
The reader survey currently under way by the British Library should alarm
anyone concerned for the quality and extent of its collections, and its
future in general. The document makes clear the BLÕs proposed ŌstrategyÕ
of moving away from collecting and preserving materials, to emphasizing
ŌaccessÕ, through both the web and public relations. The bullet-point
insert (ŌHelp Save our FutureÕ, p. 16) unwittingly exposes the flaws of
the strategy with depressing clarity:
ŌIn support of our Access and Collections strategies, we will
· From collecting, preserving and recording publications
To working in partnership to ensure the collecting, preserving and
recording of publications.
· From broad collecting of foreign language material
To more focused collecting
· From concentrating upon the collections
To realising the value of the collections through improvements to
· From providing limited access to the resources of other institutions
To providing extended access
· From focusing upon library and information staff who frequently act as
To focusing upon the researcher/information seeker who is
increasingly able to obtain direct access through the Web
· From offering limited services to the general public
To promoting wider enjoyment of the LibraryÕs collectionsÕ
The proposals show either a breathtaking ignorance of the function of
libraries or an equally breathtaking arrogance about the needs of users.
The BL is a great world, not just national, library: its sole equal is the
U.S. Library of Congress, and unlike the LC, it has a superb collection of
pre-1900 foreign books. The proposal dramatically to reduce collecting in
this area is wholly misguided, for gaps incurred now cannot be filled
later. The Biblioth¸que Nationale de France recently acknowledged
publicly its error in letting its foreign collections lapse and, while
unable to remedy the loss, committed itself to changing the policy
The survey claims that the strategy is based on usersÕ needs, since an
analysis of current use revealed Ōthat materials falling within the
national published archive (items acquired by legal deposit) and modern
English language materials are most frequently usedÕ (p. 4). How
surprising! The BL is not just a large local library, collecting what is
most often requested: it is the one library which should collect what is
not available elsewhere, what is not requested often. Legal deposit
should allow it to collect non U.K. books, unlike other libraries which do
not hold the privilege. Moreover the survey states that the BL will
reflect Ōfuture users needÕ (sic), Ōcollecting material likely to be most
used now or in the futureÕ (pp.1 & 2). One wonders how the BL knows what
will be Ōmost used in futureÕ: attempts to predict future trends in
thought have proved laughable from the beginning of history.
And why this obsession with access? The BL is one of the most accessible
libraries in existence. It is free and can be used by anyone; its new
building has modern conveniences for wheelchair access and the like; it
has long opening hours and no annual closure; its entire catalogue is
available on the web, unlike most of the institutions with which it wants
to establish ŌpartnershipsÕ.
Not least troubling in the survey is the fact that the questions are
formulated as if to confirm a strategy which has already been decided:
ŌHow important is it (on a scale of 1-5) that...Õ begins each one, so
that, however low it is ranked, the BLÕs chosen strategy is always of
Ōsome importanceÕ. A more robust and honest ŌShould the BL...Õ would have
given readers more opportunity to answer as they really think.
This move must be stopped. It will be criminal if those charged with the
care of one of the worldÕs greatest research institutions instigate its
decline, be it from incompetence, narrow focus or pseudo-reformist zeal.
I urge all concerned readers to express their views by writing in the
ŌcommentsÕ sections of the survey (www.bl.uk, or on paper at the library)
and copying them to the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell.
Reader in French
Literature and Art
University of Cambridge
On Thu, 16 Aug 2001, Theo Theocharis wrote:
> Dear Dr Hannoosh,
> Congratulations for your splendid Letter in today's Independent about the BL in peril! Please e-mail the text to:
> "Ivor Catt" <email@example.com>
> Ivor (a Trinity College alumnus) has already expressed similar sentiments.
> Theo theocharis