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The British Library The Knowledge Network: The British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2008/09

Explore our year


The British Library played a leading role in progressing developments to secure the UK's digital future.

Digitisation studio


The Library entered into discussions on Digital Britain - the Government's plans for underpinning the UK's digital economy, and the debate with policy makers. The Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, called for a coherent UK national digital strategy to include mass digitisation of content and ensure people have the digital literacy skills needed. Outlining the Library's potential contribution, she highlighted its role as custodian of Digital Britain's collective memory. She described this as 'a critical public service' that would act as 'a springboard for research, new forms of creativity and knowledge creation'.

The Library presented a paper at the 2008 European Conference on Digital Libraries. Progressing its vision 'to provide both physical and digital access to world class information where and when people need it', it also moved ahead with its own Digital Library Programme. The programme aims to create a critical mass of digital content, both by collecting published works and by digitising a growing proportion of the Library's physical collections. With the focus on customers, there was a 60% increase in the number of items in the Digital Library Store. The building of a new digitisation studio at Boston Spa speeded up the addition of digitised content.

The Library worked in partnership with Microsoft to continue the mass digitisation of 19th century books from its collections. By the end of 2008/09 the target of 70,000 books, with over 23 million pages, had been reached. As well as volumes by well known authors such as Dickens, Eliot, Trollope and Hardy they include many forgotten literary gems.

Whilst welcoming the priority given to intellectual property and copyright in the Digital Britain interim report, the Library called for Digital Britain to address issues of huge importance to education and the knowledge economy. Contributing to the wider debate, it hosted the launch of a consultation on changes to copyright exceptions by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO – formerly the Patent Office) and gave its response to the proposals.

The Library also hosted a number of breakfast events on copyright, bringing higher education, IT and research communities together. It responded to the European Commission's Green Paper on Copyright for the Knowledge Economy. Policy breakfasts were hosted with the Minister for Intellectual Property and the Conservative and Liberal Democrat shadow ministers. The Chief Executive spoke at a Conservative Policy Forum. She was also appointed to the new Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (SABIP) in a personal capacity.