The British Library – economics, academic, cultural impact on the British people Research Paper

Introduction

In 2011, the BL unveiled Vision 2020, which underlines its ambitious plans for the near future. Yet, these plans are in jeopardy because of a reduction in government funding for library services (Potts and Roper, 1995). While such reductions are in line with the government of the UK’s budget austerity, extending it to library services accrues detrimental effects not only to the British library but also to the economy.

The purpose of this paper is to emphasize the need to continue funding the BL so as to sustain its economic, educational as well as cultural impacts. The BL is one of the leading recipients of UK’s government funds, estimated at US $153 million (Stratton, 2009). An evaluation of its economic benefits reveals a favorable cost benefit ratio, which indicates attractive returns per pound invested (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004).

This is besides other non-economic benefits such as transfer of cultural artifacts from one generation to another, protection of Britain historical artifacts, support to other industries such as tourism as well as academic and scholarly benefits. Such benefits underlines the importance of expanding the services offered by the BL.

Reducing funding has inverse effects; not only will BL’s 350 years collection be underutilized but also jeopardized. Indeed, there are numerous benefits accrued from BL, but which are as a result of sustained funding. Thus, the call for reduced funding is ill advised and instead, efforts should be made not only to source for additional funds but also look for new investment opportunities.

The traditional approach to measuring BL’s economic benefits

The purpose of this section is to fully demonstrate the true economic value accrued to the UK economy by the BL. As such, it is important to take into consideration the methods through which it is possible to demonstrate this. The approach is in consideration of the fact that the BL holds a range of valuable resources.

Thus, the question is not whether the BL accrues any is economic benefits but to demonstrate its true economic value. In addition to this, an attempt will be made to demonstrate how much economic value the BL adds to the UK economy.

For a long period of time, measuring the true economic value of the BL involved identifying both its quantitative and qualitative inputs into the UK economy. This method primarily focuses on identifying the BL’s input and comparing such input to output. For instance, with reference to input, efforts are made to identify the number of new items added to the BL collection.

In 2003 alone, about 2.7 million items were added to the BL collection of resources (Howard, 2008). This is perceived to have had major economic effects as outlined here in. To begin with, increase in the number of items held by the BL meant added resources, which translates to additional income.

Moreover, extra materials means addition of information based resources, which adds value-based skills, which further enhances economic development (Brindley and Read, 2011). The level of new jobs generated by BL is also factored in, and is used to determine the level of economic input. For instance, in 2003, BL generated about 2300 new jobs (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004).

Reducing funding has inverse effects; not only will BL’s 350 years collection be underutilized but also jeopardized. Indeed, there are numerous benefits accrued from BL, but which are as a result of sustained funding. Thus, the call for reduced funding is ill advised and instead, efforts should be made not only to source for additional funds but also look for new investment opportunities.

The traditional approach to measuring BL’s economic benefits

The purpose of this section is to fully demonstrate the true economic value accrued to the UK economy by the BL. As such, it is important to take into consideration the methods through which it is possible to demonstrate this. The approach is in consideration of the fact that the BL holds a range of valuable resources.

Thus, the question is not whether the BL accrues any is economic benefits but to demonstrate its true economic value. In addition to this, an attempt will be made to demonstrate how much economic value the BL adds to the UK economy.

For a long period of time, measuring the true economic value of the BL involved identifying both its quantitative and qualitative inputs into the UK economy. This method primarily focuses on identifying the BL’s input and comparing such input to output. For instance, with reference to input, efforts are made to identify the number of new items added to the BL collection.

In 2003 alone, about 2.7 million items were added to the BL collection of resources (Howard, 2008). This is perceived to have had major economic effects as outlined here in. To begin with, increase in the number of items held by the BL meant added resources, which translates to additional income.

Moreover, extra materials means addition of information based resources, which adds value-based skills, which further enhances economic development (Brindley and Read, 2011). The level of new jobs generated by BL is also factored in, and is used to determine the level of economic input. For instance, in 2003, BL generated about 2300 new jobs (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004).

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This implies that the economic status of 2300 Britons was improved through gainful employment. Thus, the magnitude of the BL’s contribution towards growth of the UK economy is not in doubt since it helps to generate jobs as well as empower Britons with necessary skills for economic development.

The new approach to measuring BL’s economic benefits

While the BL accrues numerous economic benefits, it is impossible to demonstrate the true economic value meaningfully through the criteria outlined above. The number of jobs created as well as the increase in the number of items fails to accurately quantify BL’s economic value. The criteria mentioned above makes it cumbersome to articulate statistically the actual economic value since it just considers the input vs. output.

It therefore calls for a different method through which the BL’s true economic value is meaningfully demonstrated. Therefore, outlining a new method of measuring the BL’s true economic value seems relevant. But in determining the kind of approach that demonstrates the BL’s true economic value, it is also imperative to identify specifically what true economic value implies.

According to Throsby (2001) one of the most useful methods of determining economic value is by determining return on investment. Based on Throsby (2001) assertions, it is therefore imperative to demonstrate the actual returns for every sterling pound invested in the BL. As such, the BL commissioned a survey, conducted by leading consulting firms in the UK.

The core of the survey was to determine the monetary returns from the BL activities. After three months of detailed survey work, it was established that for every 1 sterling pound of public funding invested in the BL, the brutish exchequer accrued 4.4 sterling pounds. These returns are directly injected into the UK economy.

This implies that the cost benefit ratio equals to 1:4.4. As a result, if the UK government withdraws its annual funding, then the UK economy loses a significant amount of money (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004). To arrive at these results, the market surveyors used the Contingent Evaluation method.

This is an estimation method which involves the designing of a ‘hypothetical market’ within the survey where library users are required to estimate, in terms of monetary value, the BL’s economic value (Noonan, 2002; Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004). The findings from this hypothetical market are corresponded to value derived from established market benchmarks.

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The statistics quoted above are largely quantitative. While they reflect the true economic impacts of the BL to the British economy, they nevertheless fail to capture other elements of its economic value, since they fail to incorporate qualitative data.

At this juncture it would be imperative to indicate that while qualitative data is crucial in determining BL’s true economic value, 100 % accuracy is not guaranteed (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004).

This is due to the fact that qualitative data is basically implicit, and therefore quite impossible to quantify. Qualitative data is derived from case studies and is related to activities within which the BL engages in and which adds value to other sectors of the British economy.

As mentioned by Brindley and Read (2011), the BL is one of the biggest reservoirs of knowledge in the world. This underlines the BL’s importance to other related industries, especially those that rely heavily on research and development.

Case study surveys reveal that the BL provides services to 83 out of 100 research and development companies which have made research and development investment in the UK. About 45 % of research and development services are offered to Small and Medium Enterprises, most of which are located near the British Library facilities.

In developing new products and services, British SMEs heavily rely on the BL for support in research and development activities (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004). This indicates that the BL has a relationship with other industries.

The fact that much of the research and development services in the UK are provided by the BL portrays a mutual relationship between the BL and other industries. Yet, while the relationship is seemingly direct, the BL plays supportive role in generating economic activity.

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Therefore, the BL is considered to be among the leading institutions that offers support to other industries. It is also ranked among the ten best companies in the UK, based on value added to the economy (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004). Additionally, 40 % of the value added to the UK’s economy is attributed to services offered by the BL (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004).

The BL’s supportive role is largely facilitated by the Business and IP Centre, a business incubation lab within the BL, which offers R and D services to startup enterprises. Through the BL’s Business and IP Centre, startup enterprises are able to access thousands of materials on entrepreneurship and business startup. The Business and IP Centre also offers other services such as business conference and workshops.

SMEs are able to meet most of their startup needs at the BL’s Business and IP Centre. As such, through the Business and IP Centre, the BL helps SMEs to overcome startup challenges. This further implies that the Business and IP Centre has become a one stop shop for start up enterprises.

Since January 2011, the BL’s Business and IP Centre, in realization of the increasing power of social media, has embarked on a mission to sensitize startup enterprises, on how to enhance their online presence through social media.

The BL, through the Business and IP Centre teaches startup businesses how to enhance their online presence as well as increasing interaction with clients through the social media tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, UnLtdWorld, Smarta, podcasts, webcasts and wikis (Infield, 2011).

Such initiatives underscore the BL’s usefulness to business micro startups and that increased funding will enhance the BL’s ability to support other significant sectors of the economy.

Just as BL is of significance to other SMEs, its activities also affect other industries not necessarily related to it. For instance, BL plays a significant role towards the development of Britain’s domestic and foreign tourism (Wachowiak, 2006). The BL offers antique products most of which are located in popular galleries such as Sir John Ribault Gallery, which attracts both local and foreign visitors.

Additionally, the BL hosts local and international workshops, lectures and conferences. This is besides library services offered to local and foreign scholars. Such types of visitors add value to UK’s tourism industry as they drive up the demand for meals, accommodation and other related services.

It is therefore imperative to increase funding for BL so as to increase its capacity to serve a bigger user base. This translates to increased benefits to other industries such as tourism.

Knowledge and information are some of the most valuable resources, and therefore need to be protected. This is achieved through patents. Patenting however, goes beyond violation of user rights; it also enables intellectual property owners to add value to their products. According to Nicholas (2009), a new trend is emerging through which intellectual property owners use patents to add value to their products.

The BL holds more than 150 million items, and attracts millions of users every year (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004). In this case, patents protect the intellectual property rights and minimize abuse of library materials without jeopardizing accessibility. As such, the BL has developed a simple to use systems and services which enables it to organize the vast database as well as monitor users as they search through catalogued material.

This system allows for easy access of more than 50 million patented materials without violating user rights. But this seems to be an archaic approach to the use of patents, especially based on Nicholas’ (2009) assertions. In view of this, in Feb 2012, BL organized an event dubbed “Create, Innovate, Protect”, which aimed at sensitizing intellectual property owners on value addition through patents (Dulken, 2012).

As much as patents add value to products, there is also need to extend the economic benefits accrued from patents to property owners. In this regards, the BL is duly obliged to provide payments to holders of intellectual property rights.

Thus, the BL pays owners of intellectual property 10 % of revenues accrued from patented materials. This implies that the economic significance of the BL is spread not only to users but also to owners of property rights (British Library, n.d.).

The BL is a streamlined, autonomous and efficient institution. Through increased government funding, the BL has gradually become an effective institution in the management of information resources to the British people. The BL is one of the best managed databases in the world, a phenomenon that can be attributed to having the best data managers.

This makes its database not only easy to access but also to use, and is the reason why it attracts many users from across the nation. But there is also need to protect such databases from copyright infringement as well as loss of materials.

As such, BL combines the best copyright laws with an efficient database management system. This ensures multiple benefits for all. Even though the initiative is in its early stages, there is need to increase spending in this area so as to tap in the 4.4:1 cost benefit ratio.

BL’s educational and academic value

The BL holds more than 150 million materials, most of which are used as primary sources for academic research. British Library (n.d.) states that the BL holds materials from scholars, academics, scientists, experts and professionals from various fields.

This makes it one of the world’s richest collections of knowledge based resources. Additionally, the BL is not comparable to private libraries within and without the UK in terms of usability, efficiency and effectiveness. As a result of this, the BL’s directly affects academic activities within the UK.

Due to its richness in terms of academic materials, the BL has become very popular with users from different sectors of the academia, and who rely it as a source of primary and secondary academic materials. Other than the elementary, secondary school and college students who come to study at the BL, there are other users within academia whose varied needs are sufficiently met at the BL.

These include Masters and Doctoral students conducting academic research, and whose works are published in acclaimed academic and scholarly and trade journals. Acclaimed publishers, authors and professors use vast resources found within the BL to publish quality books. In addition to this, the BL offers technical support to users, which leads to high quality academic papers.

For many years, the BL has offered support to researchers developing original theories for testing within the UK. Findings from such kind of research are archived in theses, books, dissertations and research papers. Researchers using these materials also contribute to further development of such theories in that they merge various original concepts to develop new ones.

This implies that the BL enables the furtherance of ongoing research. It so happens that new concepts developed are contained in books and other forms of academic materials stored within the BL. This ensures that there is not only expert criticism of existing knowledge, which definitely leads to improvements, but also the sustenance of a vicious cycle of knowledge within the BL

It is imperative at this juncture to note that, most of the BL’s publications for educational purposes are subcategorized for different purposes. The BL offers support to scholars conducting scholarly research. Scholarly works are primarily conceived from an intellectual perspective, but can be used for academic purposes.

Academic publications, on the other hand, are designed to be used for academic purposes and are published in academic journals. Categorization of educational materials is in line with the BL’s efforts to enhance its educational benefits.

This is besides the general educational services such as organized lessons and educational tours for school children as well as tutorials and lectures for post secondary school students (The British Library Board, 2011). The assertions made herein indicate that, the BL requires continued support if these benefits are to be sustained.

However, it appears that the realization of these benefits is jeopardized by the downward adjustment of government funding. In 2011, the UK government funding to the BL was cut by 15 % (The British Library, 2011).

Such cuts, unfortunately, come at a time when the BL has unveiled the Vision 2020, which largely entails the expansion of the BL’s research and development services. Thus, such cuts are likely to cut back the BL’s educational and academic value now and in the near future.

With reference to the development of academic and educational needs, the BL’s potential is not limited to providing research work. For the last 40 years, the BL has dedicated a lot of its resources, especially finances, to research work aimed at developing information literacy (Markless and Streatfield, n.d.).

The need to conduct research on information literacy, popularly known as information skills, emanate from recommendations made in the ‘Report on Information Skills in the Secondary Curriculum’ which underlined the need to improve information skills among students in secondary and tertiary institutions of education.

In the report, it was noted that developing information skills improves student’s ability to interact with information. This is of crucial academic importance. But, from the late 1990’s, the BL has significantly reduced its involvement and funding of research in information literacy. The results have been felt across academia, with significant decline in information literacy skills amongst students (Markless and Streatfield, n.d.).

This has had negative academic impacts. Thus, while Markless and Streatfield’s (n.d.) work highlights the negative impacts already felt by reducing funding for BL related services, it is imperative to note that similar results are likely to be realized, if currently funding is adjusted downwards.

The BL holds more than 150 million materials which are primarily used for academic purposes. These materials have been used to advance knowledge to the British people.

While the development of informational skills is crucial towards the utilization of the BL as a valuable academic resource, reduction in financial support for the development of information skills has significantly affected academic standards. This is an indicator of how much important it is to continue and increase funding.

The BL’s Cultural impacts

From what has been demonstrated so far, questions can be raised as to whether the BL only accrues academic and economic benefits to the British people. The answer to these questions can be found within the BL’s vision statement, which asserts the BL’s commitment towards the provision of services that enrich the cultural lives of users (Brindley, 2011).

The BL has developed Vision 2020, which aims at making the BL to be the UK’s leading center for cultural studies. For a very long time, the BL has endeavored to incorporate materials on peoples’ cultural heritage (British Library, n.d.). But with the new 2020 vision, there is need to strategically position the BL as a leading center of cultural exchange.

It is imperative to note that the BL holds vast amounts of materials on the British heritage, which as of now stands underutilized. As such, the BL aims at reinvigorating cultural learning through immersive and interactive activities. But to do this, the BL requires additional funding from the government and other sources, such as donations from wells wishers, so as to rebuild and improve its infrastructure.

Such improvements include designing a new web portal as well as redesigning the current one to reflect its new thinking (Brindley, 2011). Therefore, going forward, the BL requires additional funding to meets its future aspirations, which are aimed at strategically positioning it as a one stop learning destination and for the purposes of enhancing cultural learning.

As stated by Andretta (2005), the BL holds a collection of cultural materials dating back more than 300 years, in form of writings, artifacts and personal reflections. These materials archives the British cultural past and are thus a rich collection of Britain’s heritage.

To sustain such a rich archive on the British heritage, the BL engages the British National Bibliography, an institution that traces publishing activity in the UK and Ireland. The British National Bibliography operates under the tutelage of the BL and is perceived to archive UK’s intellectual output; it contains records of all published works within the UK.

The British National Bibliography also contains records of publications missing from the BL archives and therefore supplements the BL’s initiatives. The efforts by the BL to collaborate with other institutions indicate healthy cross-institutional partnership with multiple benefits especially on culture (British Library, 2012).

The BL’s cultural benefits are not limited to those mentioned above, but also extend to increasing cross cultural awareness among the British people. As stated earlier, the BL attracts users from all spheres of life all of them intending to gain access, learn and compare knowledge from different cultural backgrounds (Pung, Clarke and Patten, 2004).

This implies that the BL is a cross cultural melting pot, where scholars, students and academics meet to study and exchange ideas. In addition, there are those users who prefer the BL for its vast collection of resources.

A publisher, author or scholar is likely to utilize the BL’s vast resources and publish a document comparing and contrasting varied cross national approaches on a particular issue. Such a publication is likely to gain a national appeal and foster, albeit indirectly, increased awareness of the international community among Britons. Such are among the numerous non-economic benefits which need to be sustained through continued funding.

Historical impacts

It would be a great disservice if benefits from a historical perspective are not offered within this paper. The BL’s long history of collecting materials can be traced to English Law of 1662, from which the legal despot requirement emanates.

The legal deposit requires authors to make available to the BL a copy of any publication made. Following the legal deposit requirement, the BL has overtime built rich archive of information (The British Library Board, 2011).

While the credibility of such materials cannot be questioned, the history of the legal deposits requirement has not been without challenges. In the 19th century, Sir Anthony Panizzi, the BL’s director, battled with renegade authors and publishers who had refused to oblige (Milne, 2007).

Nevertheless, many battles have been fought and numerous adjustments made to the original Legal Deposit requirement to the extent that the legal deposit currently covers non print materials (The British Library Board, 2011).

The resultant work of Sir Anthony Panizzi and others indicates progressive efforts to grow and expand the BL. The BL’s origin can be traced to Museum’s Department of Printed Books started in the early 1750s.

The museum only collected printed materials, but has over time included digital, audio, visual and other non-printed materials. Even though the legal deposit requirement can be traced to the English Law of 1662, its usefulness was not realized until the 1850s, especially after the input of Sir Anthony Panizzi.

So effective was the legal deposit requirement in expanding the BL databases that there was need to expand its premises in the mid 19th century. This led to the construction of the reading room, a facility that enables users not only to conduct research but also access numerous materials easily.

As a result, the BL has increasingly attracted the attention of different categories of users such as George Orwell (Caygill, 2000). Due to its historical benefits to the British people, similar expansions were done in 1900s, 1950s, 1970s and early 2000s and are as a result of the ever expanding database (British Library, 2012).

One of the most significant changes occurred in 1927. It involved an inter library cooperation, which was aimed at creating an inter-library network and increasing access to library resources across Britain. This paved way for the eventual independence of the BL. Currently, the BL is committed to expanding its utilization of the digital platform not only to ease access of resources but also to incorporate culture based learning.

From this, it is evident that extensive work has been undertaken to sustain the BL for the last 350 years, which has also involved massive funding (British Library, 2012). Reduction in funding therefore indicates concealed efforts to break with the past. It also brings to the fore the question of whether enough resources are being expended to ensure the usability to the current and future generations.

The need to continue funding the BL’s current and future initiatives emanates from the realities of the present time. There is also need to continue a long history of gradual increase in funding as well as to protect the BL’s rich collection of materials. Funding the BL improves accessibility of such materials. This is intended to enhance the attainment of cultural, economic as well as academic benefits for current and future generations.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The fact that BL is the world biggest collection of material is not in doubt. Such a status has been attained after more than 300 years of colleting materials. While this has been facilitated by a host of factors, sustained funding from the government, donors, well wishers and granters has combined well with existing Laws such as the Old English Law; here in special reference is made to Legal deposits requirement.

As a result, the BL has accrued numerous benefits to the British people. For instance, surveys conducted reveal that the BL’s cost benefit ratio is 4.4:1. This implies that for every 1 pound of funding, the government accrues 4.4 pounds. Other economic benefits include the supporting other industries especially the SMEs through R and D. The BL’s benefits are not limited to economic; it also accrues academic as well as cultural benefits.

The BL’s vast collection of materials has been utilized for a wide range of academic and scholarly activities, with notable impacts in academia. This is besides other benefits such as cultural exchange programs, transfer of cultural and historical facts from one generation to another, among others.

All these benefits are accrued as a result of sustained investment since the 1750s. As noted by Potts and Roper (1995) and Pung, Clarke and Patten (2004), reduced funding of the BL is likely to have dire economic effects, as well as undercutting the gains made so far.

Since reducing the funding of the BL is such as calamitous alternative, the following recommendation seems relevant. To begin with, the current level of funding should not be adjusted downwards, not even by a single digit. This is to avoiding risking benefits so far achieved. Secondly, the US library derives much of its funding from the government grant, individual and corporate donors, public trusts, friends and well wishers.

While there are numerous comparisons between the US and Britain, there are nevertheless lessons for Britain to learn from the US. The BL ought to explore special events such as merchandising which not only increases public awareness of services offered, but also raise additional funds.

Additionally, the BL ought to evaluate its donor policy, especially regarding financial donation, and explore possible means to attract additional corporate sponsorship.

Additional corporate sponsorship ought to be emphasized since it ensures continued flow of income as well as provide sufficient source of capital which will cushion it against budgetary deficits should the government adjust its funding downwards. Therefore, through such initiatives, the BL will not only continue to sustain its beneficial services and expansion programs but also stabilize its financial resources.

Reference List

Andretta, S. (2005). Information literacy: a practitioner’s guide. Oxford: Chandos Publishing.

Brindley, D. (2011).Growing knowledge: the British Library’s strategy. Retrieved from http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/stratpolprog/strategy1115/strategy1115.pdf

British Library. (n.d.).Document supply centre: Submission of theses to the British Library. Retrieved from http://www.red.mmu.ac.uk/documents/res_files/ applications/BritishLibraryForm_enabled.pdf

British Library.(2012). The British national bibliography. Retrieved from http://www.bl.uk/bibliographic/natbib.html

Caygill, M. (2000). The British museum reading room. London: The British Museum

Dulken, S. (2012).Create, innovate, protect at the British Library. Retrieved from http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/patentsblog/2012/02/create-innovate-protect-at- the-british-library.html

Howard, P. (2008). The British Library, a treasure of knowledge. London: Scala

Infield, N. (2011).What is the Business & IP Centre doing with social media? Retrieved from http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/inthroughtheoutfield/2011/01/what-is-the- business-ip-centre-doing-with-social-media.htm

Markless, S. and Streatfield, D. (n.d.).Three decades of information literacy: redefining the parameters. Retrieved from http://www.informat.org/pdfs/streatfield- markless.pdf

Milne, R. (2007). A sure foundation? Research libraries in the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/media/Inaugural%20Lecture.ppt

Nicholas, T. (2009).Cheaper patents.Elsevier. Retrieved from http://people.hbs.edu/tnicholas/Cheaper%20Patents.pdf

Noonan, D. (2002). Contingent valuation studies in the arts and culture. Chicago: University of Chicago

Potts and Roper (1995).Sponsorship and fund-raising in public libraries: American and British perceptions.New Library World96(1). Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=859894&show=pdf

Pung, C., Clarke, A. and Patten, L. (2004).Measuring the economic impact of the British Library. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 10(1) doi:10.1080/13614530412331296826.

Stratton, B. (2009). Provisional committee on proposals related to a WIPO development agenda second session, Geneva June 26-30, 2006. Retrieved from http://www.ifla.org/publications/provisional-committee-on-proposals-related-to-a- wipo-development-agenda-second-session-

The British Library. (2011). Annual report to CDNL 2011. Retrieved from http://www.cdnl.info/2011/CDNL_2011__country_report_UNITED_KINGDOM.pdf

The British Library Board. (2011). Legal Deposit in the British Library. Retrieved from http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/stratpolprog/legaldep

Throsby, D. (2001). Economics and culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wachowiak, H. (2006). Tourism and borders: contemporary issues, policies, and international research. London: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd 4/23/2019 13:44 a4/p4 Page of

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