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

PACCAR Gallery

We were delighted to receive a substantial donation from PACCAR Foundation in support of our activities to redefine the role of the Library in the 21st century. In particular, the donation was made to help us make our special collections – unique and primary source materials – available via the web. This will allow us to take a significant step forward in offering audiences around the world a chance to research and enjoy our resources. In recognition of PACCAR Foundation's generosity, we have named our temporary exhibition gallery 'PACCAR Gallery'.

Digitisation of Greek manuscripts

We are very grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for making it possible for us to undertake a project to digitise 250 of our Greek manuscripts to make them fully accessible to researchers around the world through the internet. We will also create catalogue records for each item and create a website that will enable researchers to search using key words and interactive technology that will allow them to upload notes and collaborate with other researchers virtually. We aim to launch the website in summer 2010. We are continuing to fundraise to enable us to add the remaining Greek manuscripts and papyri to the site in the longer term.

The International Dunhuang Project

Forty thousand manuscripts in the British Library, up to 2,000 years old, come from Silk Road towns and temples, excavated by Aurel Stein in the early 20th century. Other Silk Road explorers also acquired tens of thousands of archaeological treasures, now held by institutions across Europe. Thanks to a grant from the Culture Programme of the European Commission, the British Library has been leading a 15-month project to bring these objects and the lives of the explorers to a wider European audience.

'Cultural Routes in Eurasia' (CREA) involves six EU partners (from the UK, Hungary, France, and Germany) and three associate partners from China. Its activities have included a photography exhibition in Beijing, educational workshops in Britain and China, and an archaeological field trip.

The Dering Roll (c 1270 – 1280)

The Dering Roll is the oldest surviving English roll of arms from the reign of King Edward I (1272 – 1307). It provides a vital record of English medieval knights, depicting the coat of arms of approximately a quarter of the English baronage; predominantly of Kent and Sussex. The roll is a key document for the study of English heritage, and provides us with a valuable insight into the political allegiances of feudal society at this time. The roll was acquired with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Art Fund, the Friends of the British Library, the Friends of the National Libraries and the numerous individuals who responded to our appeal.

The Ted Hughes archive

The Library acquired an important part of the archive of the late Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes (1930 – 1998), one of the most influential literary figures of post-war Britain. The archive contains a considerable amount of personal correspondence and unpublished material, particularly relating to his most successful and acclaimed work, Birthday Letters, his collection of 88 poems considered to be his most explicit response to the suicide of his estranged wife Sylvia Plath in 1963. The archive provides an insight into the private and personal side of Hughes's life. The purchase was made possible by the Shaw Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries and the Friends of the British Library.


Over the past year we have seen our fundraising appeals go from strength to strength. The Adopt a Book programme has attracted donations from all over the world for adoptions of classic books through to specialised subjects. Gifts received from this programme support the British Library's world class conservation team, enabling us to employ three extra conservators. Many individuals and groups have paid for the direct conservation of particular items such as the Thomas Cranmer collection, the historic 1894 LahoreShri Guru Granth Sahib and the 1565 volume of Orlando Furioso.

Donations from individuals and supporters of the Library also enabled us to safeguard the future of the Macclesfield Alphabet Book, an exceptionally rare 15th century illuminated manuscript, through an appeal using a range of new media techniques combined with traditional approaches.


The British Library's Patrons continue to provide vital resources needed to grow, steward and broaden access to our unrivalled collections. A record number of Patrons also enjoyed Allan Mallinson's reflections on historic battles; heard actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company bringing ancient love letters back to life in celebration of Valentine's Day; and shared Dame Lynne Brindley's vision for the digital future of the British Library.

'Inspiring Entrepreneurs' series

We remain most grateful to HSBC for their continuing support of 'The British Library and HSBC Inspiring Entrepreneurs' series. HSBC's sponsorship allows the Business and IP Centre to support the UK's inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses through running six evening events annually which attract business icons such as Brent Hoberman, Rachel Elnaugh and Doug Richard. These are followed by highly successful networking sessions which allow attendees exclusive access to our guest speakers.

Partnership for a fourth year has allowed us to expand and improve the series to include live webcasts, which allow remote attendees from around the world the opportunity to watch and participate in events, including the functionality to put questions to the speakers.