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International engagement

We work with partners around the world to advance knowledge and mutual understanding.

Our programme for engagement with overseas contacts is very active and it includes hosting and corresponding with diplomatic and governmental representatives.

We also welcome professional overseas visitors to discuss collaborating with us at curatorial, strategic and technical levels.

You can read about some of our international activities in our latest Annual Report.

International partnerships and our collections

One of our priorities is to engage in those regions of the world whose cultures and histories are reflected most strongly in our collections, such as South Asia and the Middle East. An example of this is our work with the National Library of Israel to digitise our Hebrew manuscripts.


Roly Keating and Prof. Rocky Ralebipi-Simela sign the MOU between the British Library and the National Library of South Africa

Roly Keating and Prof. Rocky Ralebipi-Simela sign the MOU between the British Library and the National Library of South Africa

We have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with a number of national libraries, including India, Kenya, Argentina and South Africa. These agreements help us to work collaboratively on a range of initiatives, such as the project set out in our MOU with China to digitise our collection of Shang dynasty oracle bones.

Our many initiatives to share and exchange skills internationally are demonstrated by the Two-Centuries of Indian Print project. As part of this project we will deliver digital skills workshops and training sessions at Indian institutions to support innovative research within South Asian studies.

National library network of Europe

We take a professional leadership role in the national library network of Europe to contribute to the development of a global distributed digital library. Our Chief Executive Roly Keating is Chair of the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL). This is a network that supports and develops the role of national libraries in Europe, particularly in relation to their responsibilities to protect and share national cultural heritage.

The British Library works closely with Europeana, The European Library and the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER). The Europeana Sounds project is one of many instances of our work with other national institutions to make European heritage material more accessible to a global audience.

Support for institutions with collections at risk

We are growing our support for other institutions whose collections are at risk from war or civil emergency.

Our Endangered Archives Programme 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 us and made available to scholars around the world.

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