December 5, 2020

The British Library Officially Opens New National Newspaper Building (33km of Newspapers, Low Oxygen Storage)

From the BL:

The UK national newspaper collection, held by the British Library, is one of the greatest of its kind in the world. Spanning more than three centuries, it comprises local, regional and national newspapers from across the UK as well as many overseas titles. It is an invaluable historical resource for tens of thousands of researchers every year and continues to grow as some 1200 titles every week are received by the Library through legal deposit.

Today the new long-term home for the newspaper collection is officially opened, marking the culmination of a £33 million programme to move, preserve and provide access to the newspaper collection for generations to come. The National Newspaper Building, located at the British Library’s northern site at Boston Spa, West Yorkshire…

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Once the building was complete and the automated storage system had been fully tested, newspaper items began to be moved into the facility in March last year. Over the following months, 167 lorries carried more than 280,000 bound volumes of newspapers from Colindale to Boston Spa, with the moves finally completed in November 2014. In addition to the newspapers, the Library has also moved periodicals and other newspaper items to other storage facilities at Boston Spa, so the total size of the move is nearer 600,000 volumes.

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The National Newspaper Building was purpose-built to provide the ideal environmental conditions in which to store millions of old newspapers – many of which are in a fragile state. The vast facility, which houses around 33km of newspapers, maintains constant temperature and humidity, and a dark and airtight, low-oxygen environment to eliminate the risk of fire. The newspapers are stored in high-density racking 20 metres high and collection items are retrieved by robotic cranes, which transfer stacks of newspapers via an airlock to a retrieval area where staff can remove requested items and send them either to the British Library Newsroom at St Pancras or the on-site Reading Room at Boston Spa.

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As well as providing access to the print newspapers, where microfilm and digital copies are not available, the British Library’s newspaper programme also established a 10-year partnership with DC Thomson Family History (formerly brightsolid) to digitise 40 million newspaper pages and make them available online. 10 million pages are already available online at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk which offers a subscription service – or can be viewed for free in any of the British Library’s Reading Rooms, including Boston Spa.

Read the Complete Announcement, View Images

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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