Transforming our St Pancras site

We're expanding our building in London.

Published date:

Every day people come to our iconic building in St Pancras to discover a world of inspiration and do something amazing. Whether it’s writing a book, starting a business or even trying to solve the planet’s biggest challenges.

If you’ve ever joined them, you’ll know there’s nothing quite like the quiet hum of inspired people, minds buzzing with ideas. It fills our Reading Rooms, our study spaces and our galleries. But there’s so much more we want to inspire you with and so many ideas yet to spark. And to do more we need to be one of the most open, creative and innovative public spaces in the UK.

What are we doing?

To open up more of our collection and bring it to life for everyone, we need to expand our building. Through an innovative partnership with Stanhope plc and Mitsui Fudosan (SMBL Developments Ltd), we plan to create an extension with new spaces for learning, study and discovery, as well as outdoor spaces for some much-deserved time out.

Working with our development partners, this extension will enable us to:

  • share even more of our collection through new learning, exhibition and event spaces
  • welcome more learners of all ages with new programmes and facilities
  • further open up the Library with new entrances on Ossulston Street and Midland Road, and at the heart of the extension, a new foyer to host events with local communities and businesses
  • provide more spaces for those seeking inspiration or a quiet spot to work
  • increase our range of services for people starting or growing small businesses through new spaces for our Business & IP Centre
  • create a permanent home for The Alan Turing Institute (who collaborate with us and other organisations to tackle some of the biggest challenges in science and society)
  • offer more opportunities for skills and career development, and new jobs, particularly for people living locally and Camden’s young people
  • celebrate local culture and heritage and work more closely with our neighbours to develop events, exhibitions and opportunities for and with the community
  • create new outdoor green spaces for everyone to enjoy, as well as a dedicated community garden
  • offer commercial space to organisations and companies of all sizes looking to make their base within the Knowledge Quarter, creating a thriving ecosystem for local and global businesses alike.

Why we're doing this

It’s fair to say things have changed a lot since we first opened the doors to our St Pancras site in 1997. And we’ve changed too. As our collection has grown – by 8km of shelving each year – to over 170 million items, we’ve sought out opportunities to share all parts of it.

More courses, workshops and talks for learners young and old. New exhibitions and displays to showcase objects from all over the world, including recent additions to our archives. An expanded programme of events so we can hear the latest thinking from voices within the fields of literature, history, science, politics and art. But we’re fast outgrowing our facilities and we need new spaces so we can keep evolving.

This includes adapting to different ways of researching, which our 20th century building just wasn’t designed for. We want to offer new areas for collaboration and spaces that are flexible for you to use, however you like, with whatever device you’re working on.

New modes of working have also created a need for incubator spaces which entrepreneurs can use to create and pilot innovative products and services. As well as increased support for those setting up or growing small businesses, who we help thrive as part of our brilliant community at the Business & IP Centre.

And as London’s Knowledge Quarter has rapidly developed around us – at a time when trusted information has sometimes proved hard to come by – it’s important that we’re more connected than ever to our neighbours, sharing and opening up everything we have to offer to those living and working on our doorstep.

How we'll do this

We’re working with our commercial development partner, SMBL, to develop the land behind our St Pancras site. Through this partnership we’ll be able to create these new spaces, programmes and services to help and inspire you.

Together, we’ve been consulting with our users and neighbours to develop designs which we’re excited to share. We’ve submitted a joint planning application with SMBL for the proposed extension, which is now available to view and comment on online via the Camden Council website. From week commencing 4 April you can also see our full planning documents in person on the Upper Ground Floor of the Library at St Pancras. 

When will this happen?

We’re working to the following timeline. We’ll update this whenever we have more information to share.

  • March 2022: Planning application submitted and comments welcomed
  • Autumn 2022: Planning committee held
  • 2023–2025: We prepare the site for construction
  • 2025–2029: Building begins and spaces are fitted out
  • 2029: Our new spaces open to everyone

Stay up to date

With our partners, we’ve created a dedicated website to follow our plans as they develop. Check in here to see the latest news on the extension.

If you live locally, we’re always available to discuss our plans with you or answer any questions you may have. You can email us at blextension@bl.uk.

Building the Future will shape the development of the British Library’s campus in St Pancras, London – one of the great public buildings of the last century.