Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access to recorded information held by public authorities and obliges them to disclose information, subject to a range of exemptions.
Applicants have the right:
- To be told whether the information exists.
- To receive the information within 20 working days.
Making a request for information
Under the Freedom of Information Act you can request recorded information that is held by the British Library.
To make a request under the Act, please send us an email, letter or a fax requesting the information and, provided it is not covered by one of the exemptions in the Act, we will provide you with that information as soon as possible, or in any event within 20 working days.
Requests must be made in writing and include the following details:
- your name and an email or postal address
- a description, of the information you are seeking.
- The format you would prefer to have the information in. We will make every effort to send you the information in the requested format, although in some cases may not be able to do this.
Please be as specific as possible about the information you would like to request even where you do not know the names of particular documents.
If your request is unclear, or we cannot identify the information you are interested in, we will write back to you to ask for clarification.
We will aim to acknowledge your request promptly and provide you with details about when your can expect to receive our response.
Please email us at FOI-Enquiries@bl.uk
Exemptions under the Act
While you are entitled to request any information we hold, the Act provides a number of exemptions that allow information to be withheld in certain circumstances. If we decide that we cannot release the information requested, we will explain which exemption is relevant in this case.
The Publication Scheme
One of the aims of the Freedom of Information Act is that all public authorities should be clear and proactive about the information they make available. Section 19 of the Act requires the preparation of a Publication Scheme which sets out:
- The classes of information the Library publishes or intends to publish
- The manner in which they will be published
- Whether the information is available free of charge, or upon payment of a fee
The aim of this Publication Scheme is to explain what information the Library makes available to the public as a matter of course, and to make it available online. The British Library does not charge for any of the information within the scope of its Publication Scheme. The Scheme will be periodically reviewed, amended and updated to include additional published information.
Overall responsibility for this Scheme is taken by the Strategic Leadership Team, which oversees all aspects of Freedom of Information implementation in the British Library. The Strategic Leadership Team has delegated day-to-day responsibility for the operation of the Scheme to the Head of Corporate Information Management.
Copyright and the Publication Scheme
Information available via our Publication Scheme is the copyright of the British Library Board unless otherwise indicated. The British Library complies with the Re-Use of Public Sector Information (amendment) Regulations 2015 and we encourage the re-use of the information that we produce, hold and disseminate. You are free to copy, publish, distribute, transmit, adapt, or exploit the information in our Publication Scheme in any way you choose, but you must attribute the British Library Board as the source of the information.
The Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (PSI)
The PSI Regulations establish a set of rules that govern the re-use of material held or used by public bodies as part of their Public Task. The British Library makes most of its re-usable material available via our commercial services:
- Brand Licensing
- Digitisation Services
- Document Delivery
- Images Online (Picture Library)
- Metadata Services
For commercial licensing please contact Sam Tillet (Head of Licensing).
For any other requests for re-use of our content, or for complaints about licensing or re-use decisions under the Regulations, please email us at FOI-Enquiries@bl.uk
We are grateful for any comments you may have about our Publication Scheme. Please email us at FOI-Enquiries@bl.uk or contact us at the address below:
Corporate Information Management Unit
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Complaints and appeals procedure
If you are dissatisfied with our response to your request for information, you have a right to an internal review, conducted by someone who was not involved in the handling of your request.
Any written expression of dissatisfaction associated with our response to a request handled under the above legislation will be considered a complaint and request for an internal review.
Information Access complaints received by the Library will be referred to as an 'Internal Review' and handled by the Library's Corporate Information Management Unit (CIMU).
- To request an Internal Review, complainants should reply to the email containing their response or send an email to email@example.com or write to the address above.
- The Library must receive FoIA complaints within two months of receiving the Library's final response.
- The Library will aim to respond with its decision about a complaint within 'a reasonable time'. In line with best practice, the Library defines this as 20 working days following the date the complaint was received, or 40 working days where there are exceptional circumstances (such as where a complaint is particularly complex or requires a large amount of supporting information to be gathered).
Wherever possible, Internal Reviews will be conducted by someone who was not involved in handling the original request, although it will usually be necessary to consult the original request handler for further information on how the request was dealt with. The reviewer will have an appropriate level of seniority and expertise.
When necessary and appropriate to do so, a Chief Officer of the Library will convene an internal review panel in order to investigate your complaint. Wherever possible, the Chief Office chairing this panel would not have been involved in the decision making process for the initial request.
Following the review, the Library will write to the complainant setting out its decision and the reasons for the decision made. Wherever possible or necessary, our Internal Review will seek clarify the initial decision, provide any additional advice and assistance to the applicant, and, in the appropriate circumstance, to revisit whether or not any additional information can be provided.
If you are still not satisfied following an internal review, you can make a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office.
Information Commissioner's Office
Alternatively, you can submit a complaint on their website: https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/foi-and-eir-complaints/foi-and-eir-complaints/
More information about your right to lodge a complaint under FoIA, EIR and the Re-use Regulations can be found on the Information Commissioner's website https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/official-information/what-to-do-if-youre-unhappy-with-the-response-to-your-request/