Kerala government to take over British Library books


Thiruvananthapuram : The Kerala government Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the British Council of India to take over all the books of the British Library that closed here in February.

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The MoU was signed in the presence of Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Rod Pryde, the council’s minister for cultural affairs.

The decision to close down the library came as a shock to many. Following demands from several quarters, the state government held talks with the council to take over the books.

“We are happy to hand over the books to the government and we will be there to provide technical support, if needed, for the running of the library,” said Pryde.

The library, started here in 1964, has a collection of about 27,000 books. The British Council management decided to close it down in December 2007 as part of its policy to reduce its physical presence in the country.

Achuthanandan said that litigation is currently on between the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) here and the state government over the building where the library was housed.

“We expect that once the case is over, we will commence work to see that the library is opened,” he said.

The British Council is a non-departmental public body of the British government specialising in educational and development opportunities.

In India, the British Council libraries at Thiruvananthapuram and Bhopal have been closed down earlier this year as part of the Council’s policy to reduce its physical presence in the country and to divert funds to mega-projects in the fields of culture, education, science and research.