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The 21st century Library

  1. Plays a leading role in the changing world of research information.
  2. Exists for everyone who wants to do research – for academic, personal or commercial purposes.
  3. Promotes ready access to the collection and expertise through an integrated range of services which are increasingly time and space independent.
  4. Connects with the collections and expertise of others and works in partnership to fulfil our users’ needs.

‘For publick use to all posterity’
From the 1753 Act that founded the national collection.

The British Library is founded on the belief that collecting world knowledge and making it available for investigation generates new ideas and advances society.

Over the years we have built a reputation in the printed world that is second to none. We are determined to repeat that success in the digital world.

The same urge to open up the world’s knowledge to all now drives the major digitisation projects that are bringing the Library’s collections to new and enthusiastic audiences.

We will secure the ideas of the present for the benefit of the future and are pressing ahead with the development of the National Digital Library. This will record innovations on the web and other digital advances of 21st century Britain.

Next - Years of achievement

Discover more:
The 21st century Library
Years of achievement
Chairman's statement
Chief Executive's review
Raising the standard
Attracting substantial support
Redefining our people
Redefining our services and their users
Redefining our public spaces
Redefining our collections
and collection management