17/07/2008

The British Library Announces Collection Moves Strategy

In January 2009, the British Library will be starting a collection moves programme of low-use items. This is the largest programme of moves we have undertaken since the opening of St Pancras in 1998.

The transfer of low-use items to a new storage facility in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, will take place in phases. This first phase will see 10.6% of our total collection transferred to Boston Spa.

During the first phase, these low-use collections will become unavailable to Readers. The embargo period will start in January 2009 and last for a minimum of nine months. This period of restricted access will not affect St Pancras' high-use material such as rare books, manuscripts, maps, sound archive and music scores.

The collection moves are taking place as the British Library needs to vacate current leasehold storage buildings. Firstly, they fail to provide adequate environmental conditions. Secondly, the Library does not have the opportunity to extend the leases. The moves will allow us to rationalise our collection storage, provide future growth space and continue to act as guardians of the national collection.

The new storage building at our Boston Spa site will be completed in December 2008. This will be one of the largest and most technologically advanced library repositories in the world, providing us with perfect environmental storage conditions.

It is a complex and unique building in terms of its space and systems. We need to ensure that the initial placement of material is right and that any risks to the collection are minimised. The embargo of minimum nine months will allow us to ensure that this is done, that the operating systems have been tested and staff trained.

During the moves all unaffected material will be available to Readers as normal and once the embargo is over they can access the moved material again. The system for ordering items will remain unchanged.

The planned closure of the newspaper library in Colindale and the transfer of the newspaper collections form a part of Phase Two of the Collection Moves programme, starting at the end of 2009. The material stored at Colindale will be transferred on a staggered basis, and will only be unavailable to Readers whilst in transit. This is expected to be a matter of weeks. Moving the hard copy collections to the state-of-the-art storage conditions in Boston Spa will considerably improve their lifespan. Microfilm will be stored and available at St Pancras.

For more information please visit www.bl.uk/collectionmoves

Notes to Editors:

1.Low-use material is stock from which less than three requests per year have been made. High-use material is stock which is requested more than five times per year. The most used stock in the Reading Rooms attracts more than 48 requests annually.
2.Present storage locationLow-use material moving location
Micawber Street

Science, Technology and Medicine monographs, serials and patents;

HumanitiesMonographs and serials
St PancrasLow-use Humanities periodicals
3.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. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. www.bl.uk

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

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