21 November 2014
What do you think of when you hear the words British Library?
For many people, the first things that come to mind are our vast and endlessly diverse collections. You get a very vivid flavour of these from blogs such as Medieval Manuscripts, Untold Lives, Asian and African studies and English and Drama.
For others it will be our spectacular exhibitions and events, while for tens of thousands of regular users it will be our Reading Rooms and WiFi-enabled public areas at St Pancras and Boston Spa.
But there’s another dimension to what the British Library does which is likely to be of interest to a much wider audience.
As the UK national library we have unique responsibility to collect the nation’s published heritage – whether in print or digital format – as comprehensively as possible. In addition to ensuring that our collections are built and preserved for future generations, we also have a core responsibility to support and enable the researchers of today, across a massive range of formats and subject areas.
Our strategic and corporate aims encompass such questions as:
- How do we collect, preserve and provide access to the increasing amount of material published in digital formats, including the UK web domain?
- How do we store an archive of print newspapers spans more than three centuries and continues to take in every local, regional and national title in the UK?
- How do we manage access to our Reading Room so as to serve a wide range of audiences as effectively as possible?
- How do we go about making as much of our collection available online for users across the UK and around the world?
Living Knowledge aims to share some of the answers to these questions, providing something of the bigger picture that frames the British Library’s activities.
The scale and complexity of many of the challenges we face is staggering, but the work to address them very often takes place behind the scenes. This blog, written by a range of people from across the Library, will try to shed a little light on what we’re doing now and what we have planned for the future.
Among our first posts will be a look at an international partnership to digitise hundreds of thousands of items relating to Gulf history, and an ambitious project to redevelop the Library’s huge (and sometimes bewildering) website. To kick us off, and with this being Global Entrepreneurship Week, Isabel Oswell will outline what the Library has to offer small businesses and start-ups – if you enjoy the piece please don’t hesitate to share it, using the hashtag #livingknowledge
We’re also keen to hear your ideas for future pieces! If there’s some aspect of the Library’s activities, services and long-term plans that you’d like to hear more about, please tweet me at @BL_BenS and it could result in a future Living Knowledge post!
Head of Press