Knowledge Matters blog

Behind the scenes at the British Library

09 February 2024

Restoring our services - 9 February 2024 update

Researchers at the British Library (Image: Mike O'Dwyer)

Three weeks on from the restoration of our main catalogue and the improvements to access arrangements for our special collections, we’ve seen a substantial increase in people using our Reading Rooms at St Pancras, with more researchers able to consult books, journals and manuscripts held onsite.  

Although the various manual workarounds that we have had in place since 15 January may be different from normal, they’ve enabled us to resume our core responsibility of providing access to the collection. Our catalogue becoming visible and usable once again has been a key milestone on our road to recovery, and further improvements will continue to be made in the weeks and months to come. 

Next steps in restoring our services

As mentioned in my previous update, we are working to restore as many of our services as possible in the first half of this year, even though some of these solutions may be interim and more manual than you’re used to.   

Later this month we will share an indicative timeline for when some of these key services are likely to be restored, particularly access to collection items held at our Boston Spa site and to more of our digital collection. 

As with the interim arrangements for ordering material held at St Pancras, there may be more of a manual or hybrid element than would normally be the case, but our priority is to restore access to our collection to everyone who needs it. 

How we can help you 

Because of the current situation, we know that you may need more support in using the Library at the moment. We have created a short film to explain how to use our online catalogue, and we will be sharing more advice for researchers over the coming weeks.  

Full details of what’s currently available can be found on our interim website, which also includes links to a range of resources which may be helpful as alternatives to some of the material that remains unavailable for the time being.  

If you are making a special trip to visit our Reading Rooms please do, however, check in advance with our Reference Services team that the items you seek are available before making travel arrangements. You can do this by emailing [email protected]. You can also contact the Reference Services team to book one-to-one appointments online or in person, and to answer your questions and help find the information you need. 

Public Lending Right statements and payments 

I’m very pleased to be able to confirm that workaround arrangements are now in place to ensure that Public Lending Right (PLR) statements and payments can be made in advance of the statutory deadline at the end of March.  

Last month we shared timings for statements and payments to authors, illustrators and others who are entitled to PLR, in both Ireland and the UK, and last week we issued Irish PLR statements, in line with this revised timetable. Although we usually issue both statements and payments a few weeks ahead of the current timeline, I hope this confirmation provides some reassurance to those who may have been concerned about the potential impact of the cyber-attack on their PLR payments. 

Thank you for your continued understanding 

We’re very aware that this remains a difficult and sometimes frustrating situation for you, and I’d like to apologise again for the disruption you have experienced since the cyber-attackers first struck. Our efforts to rebuild securely will take time, but we hope you will continue to notice positive improvements to our key services through our growing range of adaptations to connect more people with more of our collection. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.   

Sir Roly Keating 
Chief Executive