The extraordinary newfound popularity of the British Library among undergraduates racing to finish their dissertations – or simply using the place as an upmarket pick-up joint – has supposedly made life difficult for other users. But there's a simple answer to the Reading Room's overcrowding crisis. The BL is open for just 58 hours a week. Indeed, only on Tuesdays does it stay open after 6. But I seem to recall that there are 168 hours in a week. Yes, I am making an outrageous suggestion – but I'm also serious. The BL should turn itself into a 24/7 operation.
Why not? The prospect of studying in total peace through the night would appeal to many scholars. Quite a few are night owls anyway. And the BL can hardly complain that it doesn't have the staff or money to stay open all hours. It employs more than 2,000 people. And it owes us. We taxpayers forked out £500 million to build it, and now pay well over £100 million a year to keep it going.
If my local Tesco can manage to stay open all night without a penny of subsidy, the BL should be offering at least as good a service to the long-suffering public.
Makes sense to me.