Content strategy


Our content strategy sets out the key principles and practices by which we continue to build the UK’s national collection of published content.  It determines:

  • What contemporary content the British Library collects or connects to
  • How that content is acquired and stored or how it is linked to
  • How that content is made available to our users in the short and long term.

The content strategy is concerned with contemporary published content from the UK and globally across all formats, disciplines, subjects and languages.  It covers all channels through which the content can be acquired including (but not limited to) print and non-print legal deposit, voluntary deposit, purchase, donation and exchange.  It also covers content held by other organisations to which the British Library connects, either permanently or for a fixed period.

Our approach

The content strategy is part of our wider Living Knowledge strategy.  It strikes a balance between continuity (such as supporting our collection strengths) and the need to respond to changes in the information environment, in researcher needs and behaviours, and in our available resources.  

We are currently developing our content strategy to 2023 which will be informed by the following principles:

  • Legal deposit (print and non-print) will continue to be the cornerstone of our collection building activity. The Collecting Framework for UK Legal Deposit 2015-2020 will guide our work in this area.
  • We will continue to use our budget for discretionary (i.e. purchased) acquisitions to develop and enhance our permanent collections and to support the services we offer to researchers.
  • We will continue to develop more flexible and cost-effective ways of providing access to content – for example by connecting to content held externally.  We will also explore ways of improving the discovery of open access materials.

We will publish more detail on our approach to content strategy and collection building for the period to 2023 during 2019.

We will review our approach at regular intervals so that we can respond to changes in the environment in which we operate. 

We will evaluate the success of the strategy and its implementation at the end of this period.

For more information about our contemporary content strategy work please email

For more information about our heritage collections please email