Monday, 30 March 2009

The Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society under threat.

A long rant.
Yes, after 216 years the largest independant Library outside London and one of the most beautiful places in Newcastle is fighting for its continued esistance.
How? Why?
Well, for 5 years we've worked with the next door North East Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineering. We had a Joint Development Committee which looked after things common to both Societies.
Suddenly that Committee decided it would be better if we were amalgamated/re-united/merged (the word cahnges) under one new Company whilst retaining our individual Society names. The over-company would be the Northern Society for Arts and Sciences.
In theory this all sounds fine BUT....
The new company would have 5 Board members from the Lit and Phil (membership 1700 and odd), 5 from the Mining Inst (membership 500 and odd) and 5 co-opted members. each society would have an Advisory Committee which would supply the Board Members - but the Board could refuse to accept any nominee from these advisory committees. Thus the Board would be able to be self continuing without any real input from members. Any criticisms from members to the Board could be completely ignored, decisions by Extraordinary General Meetings expressing a lack of confidence in the Board could be totally ignored. Democracy would be dead and the Independence of the Lit & Phil would go. We would be at the mercy of public funding and a lot of wishy washy-speak for undefined and buzz-word filled plans.
A minority of the Board voted (6 to 4) against this and are fighting to save the Society.
Yes we are in desperate need of funds but selling our souls to coporate external funding is not the way to do it.
The NEIMME only own a small a part of the Hogwarts-like building next door. The Northumberland Masonic whatever owns the rest and they have looked into selling their bit before now.
This is even more worrying as there is a nasty property firm nearby who would love it. They have kicked the Robert Stephenson Trust out of their building so are not people we want as neighbours.
A joint Board could even sell the Lit&Phil's building to them and rent it back from these nasty people. And the Members could do nothing to stop them.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Hazel, somebody seems to have been whispering things into your ear and you have believed them. Just because there may be the tiniest possibility that what you describe could happen that does not mean that it will happen. The L&P will emphatically not lose its identity and the voting set up is being revised. You seem to think that evil influences could take over but how could this be if they are chosen by elected members of both societies with the specific remit of preserving their ethos? The L&P has been "at the mercy of public funding" as you put it for many years now. Without more of it the L&P will be insolvent in 2 or 3 years. Is that what you want? Obviously not. You seem to think we can afford to be choosy about our neighbours---we can't. We can only be thankful that we have a famous library next door to us with an amazing collection of books and periodicals which is willing to share its remarkable premises and its expertise with us and shares all our beliefs about the value of what we do. Now we want to make this arrangement official. Why is this so awful?