That may sound like bad news, but what this really means, it turns out, (after a public outcry was made by many, including Hollywood figures with some clout, such as Clint Eastwood, who used the library to research the material so skillfully woven into Flags of Our Fathers), they will be donating the entire, invaluable contents to a publicly accessed facility such as the Margaret Herrick Library at AMPAS, USC or UCLA.
Comments from sources reluctant to identify themselves such as the following seems to have gotten the Fox company's attention:
"I cannot tell you how serious this is to the below-the-line people and creatives around town...There used to be wondrous film reference libraries at each studio. A designer could walk in, ask about damask curtains and get reams of data. Now there is none. I implore you to take up this matter."
After this brouhaha, Fox issued another statement:
"Contrary to implications, we are passionate about film history and about our fox history in particular. That's why we maintain one of the best and most costly photo archive departments in the business and keep comprehensive prop, art and film item archives from our films. It's why we organized the benefit for the motion picture home a couple years ago with Swann curating even our old contracts. That, however, is not what the research library is. Rather, it contains a number of general reference, broad interest books and periodicals, like a public library. That collection will be donated to a proper, curated library at a university or a guild, etc., where the public will have even greater access than they do now. The material will be taken care of in a first-class manner. As to the nostalgia that people feel for the days when studios were in many such non-movie specific businesses, we share it, too, and wish the world were still that way, but it's a muddling of points to lump this change into laments about lost film history, as it's not what it is."
So, maybe it isn't so valuable after all?
Some find it curious that Fox issued this news during this week of July, which is traditionally one of the biggest vacation weeks for all businesses and individuals. I'm hoping that this means that the irreplaceable core of their library collection will be maintained, somewhere, somehow, despite the fact that it may not be profitable in the short run. I know that all ephemera can't and won't be saved due to flaws in human nature and practicality, as well as lack of dough to catalog and maintain materials, but it seems that we've lost enough of our history already, at least to me. I hope it ain't so.
Warners, btw, took this opportunity to mention that "the Warner Bros Research Library is alive and well and open". Management there feels that the corporation behind their facility understands how precious it may be.
You can read the chain of events and somewhat contradictory statements from the seemingly strapped world of Fox here.