About us

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 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, 4 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 2014/15 include:

My Digital Rights

An international schools' programme inviting young people across the UK and overseas to consider their rights and responsibilities online. Working with partners including the World Wide Web Foundation and the Southbank Centre, over 3,000 young people took part from schools across the globe and submitted their own ‘clause’ to our Magna Carta for the digital age. 

Magna Carta

To mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the British Library held a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition exploring the history and resonance of this globally-recognised document. Our accompanying learning programme included exhibition workshops for over 5,000 students and Continuing Professional Development events for teachers in partnership with The Historical Association and the Schools History Project. Our Magna Carta digital resources were visited over 400,000 times in the site’s first five months. Supported by The Dorset Foundation in memory of Harry M Weinrebe.

West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song

An exhibition celebrating literature and music – from the great empires of the Middle Ages to the cultural dynamism of West Africa today. To accompany the exhibition, we’re running workshops for schools; special events for teachers including one in partnership with the Guardian and one for Newly Qualified Teachers; a screening as part of the Into Film festival; a student conference in collaboration with SOAS; as well as a large-scale family event featuring an African Marketplace and music performances.

New family programme

From activity trails to family festivals, we welcome families to the British Library to take part in a range of creative and story-based activities designed to engage all the family. Highlights this year include Carnival of the Animals in association with ZSL London Zoo, a visit from children’s writer and illustrator of The Tiger Who Came to Tea Judith Kerr, and workshops with soundscape artists Wajid Yaseen and Helen Frosi. Supported by the John Lyon’s Charity.

Redeveloped digital resources

You may have noticed parts of our website changing over the past few months. Following the successes of World War One and Discovering Literature, we are turning our attention to existing resources and ensuring they are just as engaging and easy to use. We have already re-launched our Sisterhood, Victorian Britain and Georgian Britain websites. Check back regularly as Sounds Familiar, Playtimes and Voices of the Holocaust will all be refreshed in the coming months.

To find out more about our programme

Schools programme
Teaching resources

Featured online resources

Unique collection items and expert commentary related to History, English and Citizenship

Romantics and Victorians

Discover some of our greatest literary treasures from the Romantic and Victorian periods, and learn about the historical, social and political contexts in which they were written and set.

World War One

Discover how World War One affected people on different sides of the conflict through the study of this unique collection of 500 historical sources contributed by libraries from across Europe, as part of a programme led by Europeana

Magna Carta

Explore the origins and 800-year legacy of Magna Carta, and discover its relevance to justice, liberty and the law today. This unique collection of historical sources is contextualised through articles and videos from leading experts.

Featured teaching resources

A range of teaching resources to help you plan lessons, design schemes of work and set homework tasks

Right to a fair trial

One of the clauses in Magna Carta that remains a part of English Law today, concerns the right to justice and a fair trial. In this activity, the first in a series on this theme, pupils explore two legal cases (one historical and one contemporary) that both contributed to the development of the right to justice and a fair trial.

Ages 11 to 14

Daily life in the trenches

In this activity students will use primary source material to gain an insight into daily life in the trenches and an appreciation of the kinds of difficulties that the soldiers faced.

Ages 11 to 14

Ages 14 to 16

Ages 16 to 18

Bronte’s Wuthering Heights: Who is Heathcliff?

Perspectives on the character of Heathcliff in Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Ages 14 to 16

Ages 16 to 18