Click here to skip to content

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



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
  • Awarded grade I listed building status in August 2015

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



Back to top Back to top

By using this site, you agree we can set and use cookies. For more details of these cookies and how to disable them, see our cookie policy.