Responding to scholars’ criticism of its recent decision to move the European Reading Room and turn its current location into an exhibition space, the Library of Congress posted a statement on its Web site today that reiterates its commitment to “enhancing scholarship and research” at the institution.
“Over the past 20 years,” the statement says, “we have greatly enhanced our services to the scholarly community” — creating, for instance, “the first-ever set of separate reading rooms for every major continent of the world.”
Despite financial woes, the statement continues, “we have extended and sustained the range and depth of our foreign-area collections.” And it notes that the institution’s World Digital Library has made “hitherto inaccessible foreign materials more widely available than ever before.”
The statement emphasizes that “there will be no loss or interruption of service” when the European Reading Room is moved to new quarters, beginning this summer. “Researchers will be as close to the same resource materials and specialists as they were formerly,” the statement says.
No word yet on whether scholars will find that promise reassuring.
The statement also points to several future projects, including a possible Center for Digital Scholarship and an automated call-slip system that would allow researchers to request materials ahead of a visit to the Library. —Jennifer Howard