Select Committee on Education and Skills Fifth Report


The Education and Skills Committee took evidence on Monday 29 April 2002 from Lord Eatwell, Chairman, and Mrs Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive, British Library, Sir Howard Newby, Chief Executive, Higher Education Funding Council for England, and Sir Brian Follett, Chairman of the Research Support Libraries Group, concerning library resources for higher education. Over half of all the British Library's activities are devoted to the support of higher education research.
The four UK higher education funding bodies, in collaboration with the British Library and the national libraries of Wales and Scotland, have established the Research Support Libraries Group [RSLG], chaired by Sir Brian Follett, which will report later this year.
The RSLG believes that UK should pursue the vision of a national electronic research library and wants to extend collaboration between research libraries.
We welcome the collaborative approach which the British Library and the funding councils have used in developing a national strategy to provide UK researchers from all disciplines access to world class information resources.
We recommend that the Department for Education and Skills should work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that research resources for higher education institutions are sufficiently funded.
We believe that digitisation of resources at the British Library is key to maintaining the Library's world class position and will help widen access to valuable resources. We recommend that this priority should be reflected in the allocation of funding following the 2002 spending review.
We suggest that the proposed British Library electronic research library would have sufficient status to offer a real alternative to scientists wishing to publish their research.
We are proud that the British Library is recognised as a world leader and we pay tribute to its work in providing research resources for higher education and for enterprise.
We look forward to the Report of the Research Support Libraries Group and we expect to see a positive response to its proposals from the Government, from the funding councils and from the British Library itself.

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Prepared 9 July 2002