Interview with Director British Council, India
Q: Why did the British Council close the libraries in Thiruvananthapuram and Bhopal?
We are changing the nature of our work in India in order to address new demands and opportunities. We are developing large-scale projects, particularly in the areas of education and the English language. A secondary reason is that both premises would require a significant investment in order to bring them up to the standards required,and such investment would divert funds away from our new projects, in line with the British Council's global strategy.
Q: Did you expect such a reaction to this decision ?
We know that our libraries are much loved, so these decisions were not taken lightly. We fully understand that many people will be angry and disappointed.
Q: What understanding have you reached with the Kerala government?
We plan to donate the entire physical stock of the British Library as well as the library furniture to the government of Kerala. We will also provide some ongoing technical support in order to support the establishment of their own centre.
Q: BCL members in Thiruvananthapuram and Bhopal say you have disregarded them.
I understand why people feel this. I took the decision to close the library and then to inform host governments, library staff and library users and the media in that order. We are delighted that the government of Kerala has announced that they will be establishing a new library.
Q: Will the closure of the library affect the cause of literature and the relationship with the people?
Library closures don’t mean the end of our commitment to and relationship with people in both cities. We will continue our work in literature and our support to writing and writers across India.