Secretary of State's behind-the-scenes look at the Library

Ben Bradshaw MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, tours state-of-the-art digitisation facility at the British Library at Boston Spa

The British Library at Boston Spa today hosted a visit by Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Secretary of State was shown around the Library's state-of-the-art digitisation facility, its international document supply operations and the recently-opened Additional Storage Building.

Last October the Department for Culture, Media and Sport granted £33m to the British Library to move the national newspaper collection – currently held in Colindale, north London – to a planned Newspaper Storage Building, which will be constructed on the Boston Spa site, near Wetherby in West Yorkshire.

During the course of his visit, the Secretary of State was given the opportunity to digitise a newspaper from the Library's collection using a large-format overhead scanner. The Library has already digitised around 3 million newspaper pages; 2 million pages can be viewed via the 19th Century British Library Newspapers website at: http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs/

Digitisation of historic newspapers allows researchers to access archive material online, perform automated searches and – crucially – reduces wear and tear to fragile newspaper pages. The British Library's long-term strategy for newspapers envisions tens of millions more pages of newspapers being digitised and made available via the Library's Reading Rooms and the web.

Commenting on his visit, the Secretary of State said, “I am delighted the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the British Library at Boston Spa with a £33 million contribution to its new newspaper archive. It is the most important newspaper archive in the world and will have the perfect home in new high tech facilities and under the supervision of the superb staff at Boston Spa.”

Notes to Editors

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Further information is available on the Library's website at www.bl.uk.

For more information:

Ben Sanderson
The British Library
t: +44 (0)1937 546 126
e: ben.sanderson@bl.uk

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

Press Office contacts

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.