The NAL Reopens after 22 Months

January 27 2022

Image of The NAL Reopens after 22 Months

Picture: V&A

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London reopened yesterday after being shut since March 2020.

I've pulled out what I find to be the most important sections of the museum's blog about the reopening:

In 2021, as a result of the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the V&A underwent a major restructure, creating new curatorial departments and bringing the National Art Library and Archives together with the V&A’s Research Institute. Together with this move, we began a comprehensive review of the NAL and Archive services, led by two independent consultants, Dr Sarah Thomas and Anna Jobson. Sarah and Anna were tasked with examining how, in the extraordinary context of the pandemic, the library could – and should – move forward as a core part of the V&A’s mission, considering the place of the NAL within a national and international library landscape, how libraries have changed in response to the pandemic and wider trends in digital and technology and, in particular, how we might broaden access to the NAL and our archives.


To that end, we are embarking on a transformation programme to take the National Art Library into its next phase, with renewed commitment to make our collections and resources accessible to all. We’ll shortly be appointing a Chief Librarian to lead this process, and we will be working behind the scenes to make our digitised collections more discoverable, to make more of our unique and distinctive collections, and to improve remote access to our resources. While financial constraints mean that we’re not able to act immediately on all of Sarah and Anna’s recommendations, we are committed to renewing and reinforcing the NAL, making it more sustainable, connected and inclusive, serving more people nationally and internationally as a fundamental part of the V&A’s 21st-century mission.


We’re delighted to be able to welcome readers back to the National Art Library’s reading rooms from 26 January, with increased opening hours and capacity. We’ll be opening every Wednesday from 11am and 5pm, with a walk-in service: and we’ll be increasing our opening hours later in the spring.

...'accessible to all', but only if you're free on a Wednesday from 11am till 5pm. Let us hope this is swiftly extended, due to the demand of this most vital of art resource!

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