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Facts and figures

'Building a Global Network' video

Streaming video in Windows Media format [2 min 47 sec]

  • We receive a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland
  • The collection includes well over 150 million items, in most known languages
  • 3 million new items are added every year
  • We have manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints and drawings, music scores, and patents
  • The Sound Archive keeps sound recordings from 19th-century cylinders to CD, DVD and MD recordings
  • We house 8 million stamps and other philatelic items
  • All this requires over 625 km of shelves, and grows by 12 km every year
  • If you see 5 items each day, it would take you over 80,000 years to see the whole of the collection
  • The world's earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, is sometimes on display in our exhibition galleries alongside many other treasures
  • We have on-site space for over 1,200 Readers
  • Over 16,000 people use the collections each day (on site and online)
  • Online catalogues, information and exhibitions can be found on this website
  • We operate the world's largest document delivery service providing millions of items a year to customers all over the world

In depth

Access

Collections

Treasures include:

  • Magna Carta
  • Lindisfarne Gospels
  • Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook
  • The Times first edition from 18 March 1788
  • Beatles manuscripts
  • The recording of Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech
Holdings include:
  • Material over 3,000 years old (Chinese oracle bones) - and today's newspapers
  • 310,000 manuscript volumes: from Jane Austen to James Joyce; Handel to the Beatles
  • 60 million patents
  • Over 4 million maps
  • Over 260,000 journal titles

The building at St Pancras

  • The largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century
  • The basements extend to a depth of 24.5 metres
  • A total floor area of over 112,000 sq metres spread over 14 floors - 9 above ground, 5 below
  • 10 million bricks and 180,000 tonnes of concrete were needed to complete the building

The buildings at Boston Spa

  • Originally an ordnance factory
  • Specifically designed for document delivery service processes
  • Over 100km of shelving housing a collection devoted to interlibrary loan.

In this section

History

 

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