British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale closes

The British Library is currently implementing a major programme of collection moves to safeguard the long-term future of the national newspaper collection. The programme involves moving the collection from its present home in Colindale, north London, to a purpose-built Newspaper Storage Building at the Library’s site at Boston Spa in West Yorkshire.

The purpose of the moves is to extend the life of the collection, which encompasses some 750 million pages of newspapers and periodicals, spanning more than three centuries, and includes local, regional and national newspapers from across the UK and Ireland and around the world.

The existing location at Colindale is far from ideal for storing fragile newsprint, with few environmental controls and outdated means of access to the collection. The new building at Boston Spa will offer full temperature and humidity control, maximising the life-span of newspapers, and will have low-oxygen conditions to eliminate the risk of fire.

The British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale closed on Friday 8 November 2013. High-use periodicals, microfilm collections, print newspapers and Newspaper Reading Room reference collections are now embargoed, prior to large scale moves.

Once the print newspapers have moved to Boston Spa, access to newspaper content will be via microfilm or digital copies made available in a new News and Media Reading Room at the Library’s main St Pancras site, which opens in March 2014. At this point periodical collections will also become available to order again.

Print newspaper titles will remain unavailable for longer, because of the scale of the moves and the complexity of the process of moving them into the new building. This material is expected to become available again in autumn 2014. At that point, people will be able to request them in the News and Media Reading Room at St Pancras and they will be delivered within 48 hours if no microfilm or digital copy exists, and if they are in good enough condition to travel.

Through the course of the moves, access to nearly 7 million pages of digitised newspapers will remain available via all of the Library’s reading rooms.

Details of the moves programme, including the latest issue of the Collection Moves Reader Bulletin are available online at:


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Notes to Editors

British Library Newspapers – some facts and figures

The collection dates back more than 300 years and comprises:

  • More than 53,000 separate print titles
  • 750 million pages of newspapers
  • 625,000 reels of microfilm
  • Taking up 50 km of shelf space

The collection continues to grow

  • Through legal deposit we collect more than 1200 UK and Ireland titles every week
  • Equivalent to 95% of all local, regional and national titles
  • BL Newspaper collection continues to grow at over 300m per year. Since 2010, new newspaper and periodical issues have been stored at Boston Spa because Colindale is out of space

About the Colindale newspaper library

  • The Newspaper Library was opened in 1932 – the site was previously a repository for newspapers from the British Museum collection
  • In 1940 a Luftwaffe bomb destroyed the original 1903 building, destroying 6,000 bound newspaper volumes and damaging a further 15,000
  • 1950s – mid 1990s – the site grew and evolved over the decades in line with increased use of newspapers and increased access via microfilm surrogates; throughout, space continues to be a pressing issue requiring the Library to lease a massive warehouse next door in 1985
  • In 2007 the British Library announced its long-term strategy to collect, preserve and provide access to the national newspaper collection – involving the construction of the NSB at Boston Spa, the closure of Colindale and access to newspaper collections (surrogates and non-surrogated print) at St Pancras

For more information:

Ben Sanderson
The British Library
t: +44 (0)1937 546 126

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

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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 - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.