Our supporters show great confidence in our work and our vision. The national impact of their contribution is immense.
The value of the support received from individuals, trusts, foundations and corporations this year has been more significant than ever before. World-class conservation facilities have been funded, a groundbreaking international digital collaboration set up, and unique materials bought - including one of the finest Renaissance miniatures, lost to history until now. The generosity of our supporters helps fund key aspects of the Library's strategic purpose in widening access to the world's knowledge.
Centre for Conservation
A hugely successful campaign secured funding for a new £12.5 million building alongside our St Pancras headquarters. The Centre for Conservation will bring together all of the Library’s book and sound conservators for the first time. In addition to state of the art studios and equipment, the Centre will provide dedicated facilities to enable the Library to take a leading role in training the next generation of conservators. We are working with the University of the Arts to offer the first Foundation Degree in Book conservation. An integrated Visitor and Learning Centre will help us raise public awareness of the vital work of the Collection Care department, with displays, events and demonstrations that will bring to life the challenges of conservation.
Some of the many donors whose generosity has made this essential facility possible include the Exilarch’s Foundation, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wolfson, Foyle, Dorset and Garfield Weston Foundations, and the Friends of the British Library.
Codex Sinaiticus Project
The world’s oldest Bible is to be digitised. This groundbreaking initiative will achieve the virtual reunification of the Codex, and involves a unique collaboration with the three other organisations holding portions: St Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, Leipzig University and the National Library of Russia. Written in Greek by hand in the mid-fourth century, the Codex’s extreme age and fragility mean that currently none of the partners can allow access to the manuscript. The pages will be conserved and then digitised to enable virtual versions to be created.
The Stavros S Niarchos Foundation has awarded a £150,000 challenge grant to help the Library increase access to this important Bible manuscript.
Sforza Hours: the final leaf
The Sforza Book of Hours, one of the most lavish books of the Italian Renaissance, is finally complete, over five hundred years after its creation. Leaves from the manuscript were stolen from the illuminator’s workshop in 1490, and none were seen for centuries until the Library acquired one in 1941. Another surfaced in 1984 and the final survivor came to light last year.
The last missing leaf depicts the occupations of the month of October and its purchase was made possible by a major grant from the National Art Collections Fund, the UK’s leading independent art charity, and with the generous support of the Friends of the National Libraries.
The Friends of the British Library have contributed more than ever before, through a combination of increasing membership and a generous bequest from former volunteer co-ordinator Mary Welch. In addition to a commitment of £130,000 to the Centre for Conservation, a number of important acquisitions were made possible, including John Darby’s map of Smallburgh, 1582, the earliest local English map to use a consistent scale.
Ladder of Giving
A new fundraising initiative has been launched to draw attention to the importance of private support to the Library’s future, and to make it easier for those wishing to contribute. The Supporters programme offers the opportunity to make regular gifts.
People are also interested in supporting the Library with a gift in their Will. Of particular note has been the most generous gift of the late Mary Viscountess Eccles, of her exceptional collection of Oscar Wilde memorabilia, highlights of which were displayed in the Library’s main entrance hall during the autumn. Lady Eccles also left a substantial contribution to the David and Mary Eccles Centre for American Studies, to help promote and enhance the Library’s Americana collections and to support related research.
Next - Redefining our people part 1