Inner and Middle Temple Libraries to merge?

There are many uses for Facebook and it was through Facebook that I discovered the proposal of the Treasurers of Inner Temple and Middle Temple to merge the two Inn libraries. I have not been able to read any details – for no details of this proposal are, as yet, public.  Nor have I, at this stage, contacted the Treasurers to ask for  detail.  It may be, in any event, that the proposals are not at a stage yet for more public debate by outsiders.

Update 11.00: The reference on Facebook has now been deleted

The plan as revealed on the Middle Temple Facebook page is to merge the two collections, with a suggestion mooted of housing them in Middle Temple library and to use the library space at Inner Temple for advocacy and other training purposes.

Both the Middle Temple and Inner Temple libraries house important collections and archives and, I understand, that to squash these important collections into one building will be extremely difficult if the integrity of the collections is to be maintained and serviced properly.  It is also likely that merger will result in redundancies and the inevitable  loss of valuable expertise and knowledge from the dedicated librarians of both Inns.

I spoke to a few senior members of the Bar  and the reaction was not favourable.  It was pointed out to me that Chambers are feeling the pinch and are cutting back on their own library provision and the Inn libraries are, accordingly, an even more important resource than perhaps they were.  There was concern that a reduction in staff and possible cutbacks in resource, already suffering due to budget cuts in the present climate, would impact on the efficient and effective running of the Bar and the daily work of members of the Bar who need to have access to first class resources if they are to maintain high standards.

This is not just an issue about collegiate feel – it is about the provision of resources to the Bar as a whole and the reputation of each member within the profession reliant on a world class law library resource.  I am confident that the proposal will not be supported by the staff of either Inn library.

So – without further ado, given that the cat appears now to be out of the red bag – I would be interested in hearing from barristers, students, solicitors and academics on their views of this proposal. If there are sufficient views expressed in the comments section, perhaps these could be passed on to the Treasurers of both Inns for their consideration?

I will also do some more research and take opinion from my sources and revert.

Over to you.

14 thoughts on “Inner and Middle Temple Libraries to merge?

  1. It’s about the collections, yes, and it’s about study space, too: moving everything to Middle would mean more competition for books and spaces.

    I agree the Inn libraries are important: I rely on Gray’s Inn library for an awful lot of the research I do for my blog, for my teaching and for consultancy, and no doubt others rely on Inner in the same way. In reality, they’re the one real service the Inns provide.

  2. Carl – Thanks for your comment. Even in a digital age the paper collections and more particularly the specialist advice of librarians (I would have thought) is rather important. Also – you make a good point about space and the only practical service (apart from a degree of social and professional collegiality, one assumes) that the Inns provide these days.

  3. The points regarding the fact that the library is one of the few resources that the Inn provides is an excellent one, as is the point about providing a quiet place for study. Having removed all common rooms, there really is no where for members to go to work in a quiet environment. The libraries can also serve as meeting places, which is a neglected aspect.

    Merging the two just won’t work: the collections are too big, and there simply isn’t the space to house everything, and still provide an excellent service.

    It’s also upsetting that neither Inn has consulted members, or posted a coherent statement regarding their intentions.

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  5. rumour from middle is that library staff are about as keen on it as you suggest. there was talk of a petition – ironically, pushed by a member of another inn (but good for them). god only knows where i will study after college and before (inshallah) pupillage.

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