British Library and public library partners to launch Living Knowledge Network

Harry Potter: A History of Magic at Newcastle City Library (c) Steve Brock Photography

The British Library, along with 22 public library partners and the national libraries of Scotland and Wales, is today launching the Living Knowledge Network, following the success of a two-year pilot phase funded by Arts Council England.

The nationwide partnership has been developed by the British Library, the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales to work collaboratively with public libraries across the UK, delivering:

  • Public impact – creating unique services and memorable experiences for the Network’s audiences
  • Knowledge exchange – sharing skills and resources for professional development

In the British Library’s Knowledge Centre today, Chief Librarian of the British Library, Liz Jolly, will say: "The Living Knowledge Network has had an extraordinarily successful pilot phase of growth and discovery. I am delighted to launch the Network today, surrounded by our partners and sector experts, in the spirit of collaboration and exchange in which it was founded.”

Since The Living Knowledge Network’s inception, successes include:

  • Over 1 million people have engaged with Living Knowledge Network exhibitions, events and live screenings of cultural activities
  • 74 libraries took part in events associated with the British Library’s exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic, with over 775,000 visitors attending pop-up exhibitions across 40 libraries
  • UK public library leaders from within the Network have met with their counterparts from the Library Society of China in a two-day knowledge sharing forum in Chengdu, Sichuan Province
  • A new way of touring exhibitions through newly commissioned poetry and spoken-word in collaboration with Poet in the City, culminating in a library late takeover at Leeds Central Library
  • The network has worked in partnership with Clore Leadership to host cultural leadership development days for library professionals

The Network will continue to develop cultural and learning activities centred around improving the experience of public library users. In the next 12 months this includes:

  • Writing: Making Your Mark pop up exhibitions opening in over 20 Living Knowledge libraries around the country on 26th April
  • Expanding the strategic touring programme called Collections in Verse to Sheffield and Newcastle
  • Live screening selected cultural events from both the British Library’s public programme and Hay Festival in Living Knowledge Network partner libraries

Dr John Scally, National Librarian and Chief Executive of National Library of Scotland, said: “As founding partners, we have been pleased to see the progress made during the pilot phase, and look forward to seeing this network continue to grow, bringing together best practice in all parts of the UK.”

Pedr ap Llwyd, Chief Executive and Librarian from The National Library of Wales, said: “The National Library of Wales has played a key role in the implementation of Welsh Government strategies for public libraries during the past decade and more.  A collaborative approach has yielded great results in Wales and the Living Knowledge Network gives us a great opportunity to learn from other nations and share our own experiences in an UK-wide context.”

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 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.

The Living Knowledge Network was created by the British Library to explore new ways for libraries across the country to work as one. The Network currently includes over 20 public libraries, the British Library itself, the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales.

Our work is centred on exchanging knowledge and developing memorable experiences for public library users, from simultaneous UK-wide exhibitions to leadership and development days.

For more information:

Ash Khan
The British Library
t: +44 (0)20 7412 7105

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

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