We welcome learners of all ages to the British Library, from school students and teachers to families and community groups. Our collection – filled with treasures including ancient manuscripts, world maps, historic newspapers, music recordings, and contemporary photographs – is at the heart of our unique learning programme which offers a range of opportunities to explore, connect and interact both onsite, online and nationally.
Each year, over 35,000 participants take part in a rich mix of creative programmes including workshops, masterclasses, performances, courses and discovery days. Led by our team of specialist educators and using the Harry M Weinrebe Learning Centre and our major exhibitions, the programme combines opportunities to encounter original and rare objects together with a skills-based approach centred around critical thinking, research, and visual, verbal and digital literacy.
Online, 5 million visitors come to our website every year to explore thousands of high resolution collection items, current academic research, films and animations, and teaching resources. The site provides unparalleled digital access to the British Library, inspiring and enhancing understanding of our collections for teaching and learning.
Highlights for 2016/17 include:Discovering Literature: Shakespeare
Explore Shakespeare’s plays in relation to the social, political and cultural context in which they were written, and examine the ways in which these works have been transformed and interpreted over the last four centuries.
Over 300 20th-century treasures from the British Library’s collection including literary drafts, rare first editions, notebooks, letters, newspapers and photographs. Reflecting a century of dramatic change, the site reveals the ways in which key writers of the period captured the world around them by rejecting inherited traditions and experimenting with new forms and themes.
Our new programme of short courses offers a range of inspirational and creative learning opportunities. Aimed at anyone interested in developing their personal interests and passions, our courses will deepen your engagement with a wide range of topics and use our world-renowned collections to inspire your own creativity. Recent courses have included Gothic Literature, Sacred Texts, Illustrating Alice in Wonderland and a Bookbinding Masterclass.
The nation’s sound collections are under threat, both from physical degradation and as the means of playing them disappear from production. The British Library is home to the nation’s Sound Archive, an extraordinary collection of over 6.5 million recordings of speech, music, wildlife and the environment, from the 1880s to the present day. From 2017-2022, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we will work with partner institutions across the UK to digitise, preserve and share our unique audio heritage.