Transforming Boston Spa

Artists impression of external of refurbished British Library Boston Spa Campus

We're transforming our site at Boston Spa

Published date:

Thanks to significant government investment announced in the March 2020 Budget, we’re redeveloping our Boston Spa site to create much-needed storage capacity for our collection. 

We plan to construct a new state-of-the-art storage facility and remove buildings that are no longer fit for use. Other buildings will be refurbished to improve working environments for our 550 staff in Yorkshire, and to use our space more efficiently.  We will also open up the Library at Boston Spa with tours, public displays and new Reading Rooms, as well as a restaurant and café for visitors. This improved public offer at Boston Spa will develop in parallel with our growing cultural and learning presence in Leeds City Centre.

Artist impression of internal area of refurbished British Library at Boston Spa

Why we're doing this

We’re running out of space! Our 44-acre campus, formerly a Second World War munitions factory, is home to over three quarters of our collection of over 170 million items.
In the last ten years we’ve added around 7 million physical items to our archives; requiring about 8km of new shelving annually. By the end of this decade our current storage facilities are projected to be full. We need to significantly expand our capacity to ensure there is sufficient storage in order to preserve the national collection for future generations.

As well as building the new storage repository the plan is to consolidate and centralise onsite support functions into a newly refurbished building. This will present high quality office space accommodating more streamlined operations. These will include relocating digital functions and new infrastructure ensuring the Library can continue to collect and provide access to both print and digital content for researchers, both now and into the future.

How we will do this

Sustainability will be central to this project. We are aiming to make this development carbon neutral, with an emphasis on renewable energy and energy conservation.

The planned development will include:

  • Construction of a new high-density, automated storage building, which will have the highest possible level of air tightness thereby reducing energy consumption.
  • Removal of six outdated and environmentally unfriendly buildings
  • Refurbishment of the main staff and storage building to make it better for staff and much more energy efficient
  • Landscaping of the surrounding site, making the most of the natural environment and preserving the biodiversity.

When will this happen?

We aim to open our new spaces by 2026. Here are the proposed phases of work:

Boston Spa Plans timeline

Following on from our Planning Application submission in March 2021 we are moving into our technical design stage (Design Stage 4).  We will update this page as the project progresses.

Although the public consultation is now closed, we welcome your feedback on our plans and encourage you to get in touch with any questions by emailing us at BSRTeam@bl.uk.

For all media enquiries please contact us at press@bl.uk.