Sir Roly Keating

Head and shoulders photo of Roly Keating
Chief Executive

Sir Roly Keating has been Chief Executive of the British Library since September 2012.

In 2015 he launched Living Knowledge, an 8-year strategy based on a refreshed statement of vision to ’make our intellectual heritage accessible to everyone for research, inspiration and enjoyment.’  Under Living Knowledge the Library has seen a major expansion of cultural and learning activities, including landmark exhibitions on Magna Carta, Harry Potter and the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms; new pan-UK partnerships including the Living Knowledge Network of public and national libraries and the successful Business & IP Centre national network, which now includes over 80 centres across the UK; major digital initiatives including Save Our Sounds, to preserve the UK’s at-risk audio heritage, and Living with Machines, a major AI-based research collaboration between historians and computer scientists; and an award of planning permission for a major extension of the Library’s London building at St Pancras. 

Knowledge Matters, launched in 2023, sets the Library on a course to 2030.  It deepens the Library’s commitments to accessibility, sustainability and expanding its reach across the UK, with new public library partnerships including the digital platform LibraryOn, and a programme of capital projects in the North of England, including the renewal of the campus at Boston Spa and a project to create an entirely new public space in the historic Temple Works building in the heart of Leeds – ’British Library North’.

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 its digital channels, 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.

Roly is a Trustee of the Clore Leadership Programme and a former Board member of Channel 4 and the Barbican Arts Centre.  He chairs the Steering Committee for the 5-year AHRC-funded research programme Towards a National Collection.

Roly holds Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Lincoln, Warwick and York. In 2023 he was knighted for services to Literature in the New Year Honours List and appointed Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the Government of France.