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Tension over RIBA library is healthy

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Good to see the future of the RIBA library in public debate (AJ 5.3.98).

However, I don't think I proposed that it be 'systematically quarried and sold off ' as suggested by Margaret Richardson of Sir John Soane's Museum!

As to the Heritage Lottery Fund, we will be most grateful for any assistance towards future purchases and rehousing, but the HLF case officer has warned us that 'it is important that expectations are not raised unrealistically at this critical stage'.

Further, we have always been aware that the HLF would make little or no contribution to the £2 million plus a year it might take to run a reconstituted world-class library, and our current problem is that potential benefactors will not make gifts to a library that is incapable of looking after them properly.

It is neither unexpected nor unhealthy that there should be constructive tension between those with an essentially curatorial interest and those who have to take bold steps at a difficult time. Ultimately however, our objectives should coincide.

That is why we have a steering group chaired by the president, and a robust management structure to deal with the project, and are currently taking advice from professional fundraising consultants. We may need to take unconventional action to ensure the survival and development of this priceless asset into the twenty-first century.

COLIN JAMES RIBA honorary treasurer

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