The future of St Bride Library

Over the last few days speculation about the future of the much-loved St Bride Library in London has intensified. Last night, St Bride CEO Glyn Farrow addressed some of the concerns on the Foundation’s website. While he stated that both the library and workshop are set to close for the time being, the valuable collections will be ‘moth-balled’ until the institution’s financial situation improves

Type blocks, St Bride workshop

Over the last few days speculation about the future of the much-loved St Bride Library in London has intensified. Last night, St Bride CEO Glyn Farrow addressed some of the concerns on the Foundation’s website. While he stated that both the library and workshop are set to close for the time being, the valuable collections will be ‘moth-balled’ until the institution’s financial situation improves…

Stressing that the St Bride Foundation will continue with its “charitable aims and objective into the future”, Farrow says that there are no plans to sell or give away the valuable contents of the Library. Opened in 1895, the Library contains over 80,000 books and artefacts relating to printing, typography and graphic design – its current exhibition, St Bride Unveiled, showcases a range of highlights from the Foundation’s collection.

Of particular interest to fans of the Library – and of printing and typographic history in general – is Farrow’s assertion that the archives will not be sold or given away, “other than material already identified as being outside the scope of the charity’s activity or being surplus to requirements”, he says.

“For many years, St Bride Foundation has provided a library service which has been a unique beacon in the world of typography, printing history, journalism etc,” Farrow writes in the statement. “In more recent years we have been lucky enough to be able welcome people into the Printing Workshop where they can learn some of the techniques which feature so prominently in the library.

“It will come as no shock to anyone that any form of trading in recent years has not been easy and the Foundation has suffered as much as anyone else. We have not been able to generate the revenue we would have wished and therefore to continue to provide the, albeit restricted, service on offer in the library and workshop would have been foolhardy.

“It was with a genuine sense of sadness and regret that the Foundation decided that it had to make two very well respected, trusted and key employees redundant and to cease the facilities in the library and workshop until such time as finances permit us to resume our activities. We are engaged in a constant search for funds from individuals, corporations and grant-giving trusts as is every other small charity in the country.”

Farrow also states that “the library, the archive and all the other wonderful items we look after are safe. We always have, and always will, take great care to protect, care for and conserve our collections and there will be no deviation from this policy.”

According to the CEO, the Foundation plans to re-open the collections and courses once its finances improve. To this end it is, he says, looking towards adopting a new business model. “Decisions like this are hard to take,” Farrow concludes. “They are equally hard to implement but not to have done so would have rendered the whole charity vulnerable which is something the Board and I have always and will always take every step to avoid.”

Farrow’s full statement can be read here.

Further statements on the future of the St Bride Library and Workshops will appear on sbf.org.uk. In the meantime, Farrow is welcoming questions and can be contacted on glyn@sbf.org.uk.

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