British Library awarded Catalyst Endowment to support future acquisitions

  • Four-year programme to raise £4m to be matched by £2m of Lottery funding
  • Creating a £6m endowment to fund engagement and access activities and heritage acquisitions

The British Library has successfully applied for a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Catalyst Endowment Award. The award will be worth £2 million, dependent on the Library raising £4 million over the next four years.

The amount raised by the Library, and the matched funding provided by the Catalyst Endowment programme, will result in a combined endowment of £6 million to increase public engagement with collection items, including exhibitions and online resources, and it will help support conservation work that may be necessary to make items accessible.

The endowment will also fund work to support acquisitions of heritage items such as culturally and historically significant books and manuscripts. It will be managed on a long-term basis to provide funding for such activities over many years to come.

The Catalyst Endowment Awards were announced by the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Chair of the Catalyst Panel, Michael Portillo, at an event at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Designed to bring new money into the cultural sector, the programme is a joint initiative between HLF, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England. It offers match-funding to help arts and heritage organisations become more sustainable and resilient by building a new endowment fund or developing an existing one, in order to increase their annual income. The organisations will use the grants of between £500,000 and £5 million to attract money from private philanthropic sources.

The British Library’s Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley said: “I am delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the British Library this very significant support for our long-term work to develop and increase access to our world-class collections. We are confident of being able to raise the funds that HLF has pledged to match, with the ultimate goal of building our collections and making them ever more accessible.”

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “The Catalyst: Endowments Programme is part of our response to helping boost private giving across the heritage sector. Alongside our plans to build the fundraising capacity of smaller groups, we expect the programme to form part of a shift in approach to philanthropic giving that will help build financial resilience and attract new money to heritage groups of every size.”

For more information contact:

  • Ben Sanderson
  • The British Library
  • t:+44 (0) 1937 546 126
  • m:+44 (0) 7810 056848
  • f:+44 (0) 20 7412 7168
  • e: ben.sanderson@bl.uk


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  



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