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We're making space to realise new possibilities at St Pancras.
We’re creating a brand new public space for London, that’s connected to our community and open to the world. Whether you’ve travelled from afar or you live around the corner, we’re creating new relaxed spaces here at our St Pancras site where you can drop by and dip in. With more informal entrances that allow you to wander in and make yourself at home. Go wherever the feeling takes you.
Our iconic Reading Rooms and expert staff will still inspire and guide those coming to study and research, aided by new digital access and improvements to our existing spaces which will enable researchers to come together and exchange ideas. But behind our existing building you’ll be able to enjoy a different side to the Library, with a new extension that provides flexibility to use our spaces, meet people and explore everything we have to offer in ways that suit you.
Schools, families and learners of all ages will delve deeper into our collection within a new bespoke learning centre, as well as spectacular new galleries and event spaces. Local people will be able to use our spaces for community events, co-curate projects or simply take time out in green courtyards and walkways. And start-ups and small businesses will tap into an expanded programme of support and, for the first time, test emerging concepts in dedicated maker spaces.
Yes, our spaces may be new but that special feeling, that sense of wonder and discovery that you feel when you step inside? It will still be there. Setting the scene for your imagination. To realise your own limitless potential.
What are we doing?
To make space for even more inspiration, 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 bespoke 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:
- create a new, free public space in London to enjoy and explore the Library in ways that suit you
- share even more of our collection through new learning, exhibition and event spaces
- welcome more learners of all ages with new programmes and facilities to delve into your interests or discover something new
- 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
- establish 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
Since the British Library was founded our world has changed dramatically. From climate change to global pandemics, there are solutions to the challenges we face, that can only be found by bringing people and knowledge together.
The words and thoughts contained within our collection have long helped people to uncover the answers they’re looking for. But to keep sparking new ideas we need to create space for them. Our collection of over 170 million items growns by 8km of shelving each year and, as we seek out even more opportunities to share all parts of it, we’re fast outgrowing our facilities.
We need new spaces so we can keep evolving. To offer 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. And an expanded programme of events so we can hear the latest thinking from voices within the fields of literature, history, science, politics and art.
As we transform our site we need to adapt to different ways of researching too, 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 consulted our users and neighbours and used their feedback to develop designs for these new spaces, and in 2022 we submitted a joint planning application with SMBL for the proposed extension, which was given the green light by Camden Council in January 2023.
When will this happen?
We're looking to open the new spaces in 2030. We’ll update this page when we have more information to share.
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.
We’re always available to discuss our plans with you or answer any questions you may have. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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