Laurence Engel and Roly Keating in Conversation

Roly Keating and Laurence Engel
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National libraries in the modern world.

This event takes place in the British Library and will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform. Tickets may be booked either to attend in person, or to watch on our platform (online) either live or within 48 hours on catch up. Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.

Laurence Engel is the first woman to lead the national library of France in its more than 500-year history. Join her and the British Library’s Chief Executive, Sir Roly Keating, as they discuss perspectives from within two of the world’s largest libraries.

Hear them touch upon stewardship of national collections, the future role of national libraries in a world of fast changing technological advances, and their respective leadership journeys.

This event is free to attend, but advance booking is required.

Laurence Engel was appointed President of the National Library of France (BnF) in April 2016, and saw her position renewed in 2021 for a second mandate. She devoted her professional career to cultural public policies, in particular for the French-German television channel Arte, for the Ministry of Culture, where she worked as a permanent Secretary for French Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti (2021–2014), and for the City of Paris, as Director of Cultural Affairs. She is also the President of Réseau Francophone Numérique, an international non-profit association, which currently comprises 30 members (national libraries, national archives, university libraries, institutes) in 20 countries.

She has published several books and articles in magazines such as Esprit or for the Bartillat Editions (‘Que peut la culture?’).

Sir Roly Keating has been Chief Executive of the British Library since September 2012. In his tenure so far, he has overseen a series of significant developments including: the launch in 2015 of Living Knowledge, an ambitious new vision and strategy; a major expansion of cultural and learning activities, including landmark exhibitions on Magna Carta and Harry Potter; new pan-UK partnerships with public libraries including the successful Business & IP Centre national network; digital initiatives including Save Our Sounds to preserve the UK’s audio heritage; the creation of the Knowledge Quarter, an innovative partnership of knowledge-based organisations near the Library’s London HQ; and the initiation of major new capital projects in London and Yorkshire, including full-scale renewal of the Library’s Boston Spa campus and creation of a major new public space in Leeds. Roly joined the Library after a long and successful career as a programme-maker and broadcasting executive at the BBC, where he played key roles in the launch of UKTV, as its first Head of Programming, and BBC Four, as its launch Controller in 2002, before moving on to become Controller of BBC Two and Director of Archive Content, with editorial oversight of the BBC's online services including BBC iPlayer.

If you’re attending in person, please arrive no later than 15 minutes before the start time of this event. 

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Name: Laurence Engel and Roly Keating in Conversation
Where: Pigott Theatre
The Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Free
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
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* Please note that there is a £1.50 transaction fee when tickets are posted, or for telephone sales when an e-ticket is requested.