Knowledge Matters blog

Behind the scenes at the British Library

14 February 2022

UK wide Breaking the News exhibition opens this February

Maxime Pons Webster, Live Screening Producer of the British Library Living Knowledge Network tells us about an exciting cross-UK exhibition opening at over 30 public libraries this month.

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This month we open Breaking the News a collaborative exhibition programme across 30 Living Knowledge Network libraries. It is also an upcoming British Library exhibition (launching in April at our St Pancras site), which explores the role news plays in society.

Drawing on a selection of news stories, spanning 500 years of news production in Britain, this exhibition celebrates news and encourages library users to consider how their own community stories are told. Through exhibition displays visitors will be asked the questions ‘what makes an event news?’, ‘what does a free press mean?’, and ‘can we trust the news’?.

Each of the 30 libraries will augment the exhibition in many ways to make it truly their own, surfacing unique collections and fascinating stories. We are happy to be amplifying these exciting regional narratives to a national audience through specially commissioned short films which will be available to watch on

Discover the World War Two newspapers of Nazi-occupied Jersey, alongside the diary of a real resident who tells a very different story. Learn about Wakefield’s first female newspaper owner, Ann Hurst, who used her role to campaign against slavery.

In this online space you will also find online events programmed by the British Library and public libraries themselves, so you can experience local stories and national conversations, regardless of where you live.

For Breaking the News libraries are forging connections with regional press outlets and their own communities. Many are eager to use the themes of the British Library exhibition to invite people to develop their understanding of news, how we consume it, and where our sources of information come from.

In preparation for a rich programme of events and workshops around the exhibition, we convened a session with News Literacy experts, to empower library staff to be educators and facilitators of this ever more important debate.

We are delighted to be launching this exhibition at Leeds Central Library on 24 February with a headline event The Launch Debate. Streamed both online and into public library buildings, this event will be a celebration of regional news and its significance at the heart of communities.

We will be joined by editor of The Yorkshire Post, James Mitchinson, artist and activist for local stories told by local people, Rachel Horne and three-time winner at the Regional Press Awards, Roger Lytollis. This lively conversation will be chaired by Channel 4 News anchor, Fatima Manji.

Since 2017 the British Library has collaborated with public libraries on major UK-wide exhibitions, one of the important cultural offers that exists through the Living Knowledge Network, a partnership of national and public libraries, which was created to explore new ways for libraries across the UK to work together to share ideas, spark connections and create memorable experiences for library users.