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Use of the Fellows' Room from July 2016

You may be aware of considerable discussion within the Society on options to allow temporary use of the Fellows’ Room in Burlington House by the Royal Academy or, more generally, other third parties. This is an initiative to increase revenue earned from the building in order to offset increased lease rental costs and decreased income.
The down turn in the resource and hydrocarbon sector will decrease income considerably this year and it is necessary for Council to take steps to manage the budget and to meet its obligations as charity trustees to ensure best use is made of the Society’s resources.

It is also linked to changing behaviour patterns of many Fellows in the Society, where on-line access is increasing and use of the Library and the Fellows' Room is changing. Use of the Fellows' Room is currently very low on average. It was felt that with the existing facilities of the Lower Library, the Upper Library and the Lyell Room, there is good accommodation for Fellows to both conduct Library research and use as a temporary work space when in London.

Following input from Fellows and further legal review, Council have approved a short-term hire of the room that can be renewed at the Society’s option and which will be kept under review by Council throughout its duration. This is similar to the basis on which room-hire has already been undertaken for many years at Burlington House. Access to the Library storage in the room will be available at all times by staff and the RA staff will have internet access via the existing GSL Wi-Fi.

More comfortable chairs have been moved to the Lyell Room to provide similar facilities to before and it will still be possible to obtain tea and coffee. The power supplies in the Upper Library will be upgraded to allow more computer power there.  The Wi-Fi is also being upgraded throughout the building.  For information, another Courtyard Society is also providing temporary space on a similar basis to assist our neighbours during a critical phase of their building works.

I recognise that this will not be popular with all Fellows, but Council’s view was that this was in the best interests of the Society and is the best way to protect the Library. I would like to express my thanks to the Fellows who provided input on this issue, which was very helpful.  I also recognise that we have not communicated well on this to Fellows or staff and apologise for this.
Use of this space by the Royal Academy will commence on the 18th July. I believe short term initiatives such as this are required to ensure that we can remain at Burlington House and maintain our high quality Library for years to come.  I look forward to your support in making this work.

Malcolm Brown
President, Geological Society