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Review | Chairman | Chief Executive | Strategic priorities | Performance | Governance | Grants | Accounts

Sir Colin Lucas, Chairman

Thoughts on arrival

'It was a great privilege to be appointed as the eighth Chairman of the British Library Board on 1 September 2006. The British Library is a wonderful library - and an enormous asset to this nation. I am looking forward to building on the work that the Board has accomplished under my distinguished predecessor, Lord Eatwell, to enable the Library's leadership to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

I have spent much of my life working in libraries and I care passionately about what they do. They are important places where we store the knowledge of current and previous generations, where people are inspired, where people learn, and where people advance knowledge. Amongst the libraries of the world, the British Library is pre-eminent. It makes a vital contribution to this nation's economy and to its intellectual and cultural well-being through its support for research, innovation, enterprise, and creativity.'

The digital challenge

'I view engagement with the digital age as the most important of the challenges that the Library faces during my four-year term as Chairman. Technological developments are revolutionising the way that knowledge is created, transmitted, recorded and accessed. It is a whole new world that we are embracing. If we are not wholehearted in our engagement, we will cease to be relevant.

My first priority as Chairman was to set about the task of refreshing the membership of the Board and to initiate the public appointments process to fill five vacancies in membership. The process we adopted reflected my determination both to ensure an appropriate diversity of candidature and also to secure the specific skill-sets we need on the Board if the Library is to deliver maximum public value over the coming years. The five new Board members took up their appointments on 1 April 2007.'

Support for our 'paradise on earth'

'As this Annual Report was being compiled, the outcome of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 was still awaited. The constrained fiscal outlook, has raised serious concerns about an uncertain and potentially difficult funding settlement for the Library for the years 2008-2011. We are working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to assist them in making the best case for the British Library in the spending review. It has been immensely heart warming in this context to see the breadth of media and public support for the Library. Sam Leith writing in the Daily Telegraph summed up the feelings of many: "The British Library is an absolute paradise on earth. It is warm, clean, comfortable, accommodating and quiet.... what it is supposed to do, it does - and does so brilliantly it could make you weep".

We would like to thank all of our donors to the Sacred exhibition who have worked with us over the last year on plans and preparations for this important project on Judaism, Christianity and Islam, especially Coexist Foundation, The Moroccan British Society and Saint Catherine Foundation. We also remain most grateful to the many generous donors and grant-makers to the British Library Centre for Conservation - without your support, we would not have achieved the completion of this wonderful new facility to preserve our written and recorded heritage. In addition, I would like to thank those who have supported our appeals for acquiring heritage materials, in particular the National Heritage Memorial Fund for their support for the purchase of the Coleridge Family Collection, as well as the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund and others for their help with the Raffles Family Collection. On behalf of the Board, I should like to express my gratitude and warmest wishes to all of our donors and supporters for their help with these and many other initiatives which serve to sustain and enhance the Library's rich and diverse programme, making it the world-class institution it is today.'

Cultural diplomacy and the Iraq diaries

'During the year the Library was one of the six commissioning institutions of the Demos report Cultural diplomacy which concluded that cultural diplomacy has a critical role to play in international relations. The British Library's collections contain the intellectual DNA of civilisation and we are committed to serious international engagement at all levels. This engagement takes many forms, but if pressed I would this year single out our work with the Iraq National Library and Archives. Who could fail to be moved by the diary blog of its Director Dr Saad Eskander which we have hosted on our website.

The British Library is truly and emphatically a library for the world.'

Sir Colin Lucas

Sir Colin Lucas

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