The Bishop and Trustees of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster have recently and peremptorily announced the permanent closure of the Talbot Library in Preston, with effect from 31 December 2013 (although, because of the customary Christmas closure, the Library hâs doors shut for good on 13 December).
The decision has been taken without any external consultation and, so far as can be learned, without a proper option appraisal.
The Library was established by Bishop John Brewer and Canon Robbie Canavan in 1992 and has quickly grown to a collection of some 60,000 volumes of predominantly Roman Catholic and Irish interest. Outside of monastic foundations, it is one of the most important Catholic library collections in the country after Heythrop College Library, University of London, Ushaw College Library (now in the care of Durham University), and the Catholic National Library in Farnborough (whose own future has been on a knife-edge for several years).
A description of the content of the Talbot Library could formerly be found on its website, but the latter's homepage does not appear to be online at the time of writing. There is a more skeletal overview in the ABTAPL directory at: http://www.abtapl.org.uk/database/LibraryPage300.html
The Diocese of Lancaster attributes the closure of the Library to the imminent retirement of Deacon Michael Dolan, Librarian as relatively few users and increasing costs. Most of the books and periodicals will be dispersed, although a small archive centre containing records relating to the Diocese is to be created at an unspecified location. The fullest account of the closure of the Talbot Library, including adverse reactions (such as from prominent Catholic peer Lord Alton) is currently to be found on the Independent Catholic News website at: http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=23831
The Diocese's press release about the closure (dated 17 December, although the news broke on the Catholic Family History blog as early as 8 December) can be read at: http://www.lancasterdiocese.org.uk/Publisher/File.aspx?ID=125129
FFHS Archives Liaison Officer