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Working Internationally

The British Library is one of the world's leading research libraries and works in partnership with many international partners on a range of activities and projects to share the world's knowledge.

We have a long history of cultural exchange - from strategic working partnerships to the innovative use of digital technology to preserve and make collections accessible on a global scale.

Restoring and sustaining cultures

The British Library administers the £10 million Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) sponsored by Arcadia which enables institutions and researchers to apply for grants to help identify endangered records and relocate them to institutional archives in their local region. A digital copy is also deposited with the British Library and made available to scholars around the world.

Capacity building

Participants in our programme of international internships are able to take back to their countries a range of transferable skills - a conservator from the National Library of South Africa who participated in the Library programme was able to go on to advise colleagues in Mali.

We also supported the reconstruction of the Iraq National Library and Archives (INLA) and have provided digital copies of records, maps and other information to aid with the redevelopment of the INLA.

Virtual reunification of collections

The Codex Sinaiticus Project is an ambitious international project that makes the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the world’s oldest Bibles, available to scholars and the public through innovative digital and web-based technology. The project is based on a partnership between the institutions which hold parts of the Codex: St Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, the British Library, Leipzig University Library and the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg.

The award-winning International Dunhuang Project was established in 1994, at the British Library, to co-ordinate a collaboration to conserve, catalogue and digitise tens of thousands of manuscripts, paintings, textiles and other artefacts found at Dunhuang and archaeological sites along the ancient Silk Road in the early 20th century. IDP now has centres in London, Beijing, Dunhuang, St Petersburg, Berlin and Kyoto.

Strategic partnerships

We have struck Memoranda of Understanding with a number of national libraries, including China, India, Kenya, and Iran. These agreements allow us to work collaboratively with a number of cultural organisations on a range of projects and initiatives.

We were a partner in the World Collections Programme: a three-year, £3million initiative funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport which develops links with institutions in Asia and Africa. The WCP partners were the British Museum, V&A, Natural History Museum, Tate and Kew. We have successfully bid for funding to undertake research to identify key partners and explore potential collaborative projects in India.

Professional leadership

Many of our curatorial staff are at the hub of a number of scholarly networks, and the Library plays key roles in international professional bodies such as The European Library Management Board CENL group for digital projects in European national libraries. It is the only European member of the Library of Congress Advisory Board for the National Digital Information Infrastructure & Preservation Programme (NDIIPP).

Project title: APARSEN

Start/end dates: January 2011 - December 2014

Objective: A Network of Excellence co-funded by the EU that aims to bring together an extremely diverse set of practitioner organisations and researchers, exploiting our diversity by building a long-lived Virtual Centre of Excellence.

BL’s role: The British Library led the Cost Models work packaged and contributes to a range of other activities supporting the Virtual Centre of Excellence.

External link:

Project title: Europeana Collections 1914-18

Start/end dates: May 2011 - April 2014

Objective: For the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Europeana has created a substantial digital collection of material representing each of the different sides involved in the historic conflict. Drawing on the collections of ten libraries, and other partners, across eight countries, the three-year project made more than 400,000 digitised items from the First World War publicly and freely available for the first time.

BL’s role: The BL has contributed more than 10,000 items (up to 350,000 digital images) from across its own collections, encompassing a wide range of materials. The BL also lead the Dissemination work package, which included the creation of a learning website on the First World War, programming a number of dissemination events and collection days, and organising an exhibition in the Folio Gallery.

External link:

Project title: Europeana Creative

Start/end dates: February 2013 - July 2015

Objective: Europeana Creative is a European project which enables and promotes greater re-use of cultural heritage resources by creative industries.

BL’s role: The BL’s roles in the project is to supply Europeana with 3,000 audio tracks along with additional content, to collaborate on the project’s Social Networks pilot and to promote the project through events, presentations, and social media.

External link:

Project title: Europeana Newspapers


Start/end dates: February 2012 - January 2015

Objective: This is a Best Practice Network which is aggregating and making searchable up to 18 million historic newspaper pages from across Europe.

BL’s role: The BL is sharing best practice in the evaluation and quality assurance of newspaper digitisation and metadata standards, and is involved with the project’s dissemination activities.

External link:

Project title: Europeana Sounds


Start/end dates: February 2014 - January 2017

Objective: Significantly increase audio content accessible through Europeana; provide semantic enrichment of existing metadata through crowdsourcing; open-up accessibility to currently unavailable works and develop the possibilities of reuse by the creative industries.

BL’s role: The BL is responsible for coordination and management of the project and also heads the aggregation work package.

External link:

Project title: SCAPE - SCAlable Preservation Environments

Start/end dates: February 2011 – September 2014

Objective: An EU co-funded project to develop scalable services for planning and execution of institutional preservation strategies on an open source platform that orchestrates semi-automated workflows for large-scale, heterogeneous collections of complex digital objects.

BL’s role: The British Library provides the project’s Technical Coordinator and leads the Large Scale Digital Repositories Testbed, developing tools to support large scale preservation actions for digitised still images, ebooks and geospatial data.

External link:

Project title: Succeed (SUpport action Centre of CompEtEnce in Digitisation) 


Start/end dates: January 2013 - December 2014

Objective: Succeed is a support action funded by the European Union. It promotes the take up and validation of research results in mass digitisation, with a focus on textual content.

BL’s role: The Bl is involved in several work packages, including the testing and validation of tools, as well as sustainability and road-mapping for Centre of Competences in digitisation.

External link: and (IMPACT Centre of Competence)

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