Community Engagement

Community Engagement works closely with local community groups and residents to develop collaborative British Library projects. We share with them our exciting collection and expertise and celebrate all of the great ideas and talent on our doorstep.

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Our vision

By 2023 (our 50th Anniversary) the British Library will be considered by the local community, and the wider borough of Camden, as a welcoming and inclusive place with resources for all those who want to learn, take part in and experience what it has to offer. The Library will be seen as proactive in its engagement with the local community.

About our Community Engagement work

The British Library carried out consultation in the local community between 2015–2016, most notably within the surrounding communities of St Pancras and Somers Town, Kings Cross and Bloomsbury wards in Camden. This was linked to our major programme, Building the Future, and provided us with an opportunity to reflect on how we become an even better neighbour to local communities.

As a result of this consultation, the Library has further expanded our Community Engagement work, creating an additional Community Engagement role with a specifically local focus to support and enhance our existing engagement activities and to help us fulfill our vision.

As well as working with local community groups, organisations and individuals to develop collaborative projects, our Community Engagement Manager works very closely with teams from across the British Library who deliver a range of community engagement projects.

In particular we work closely with the Building the Future programme team, and our partner developer Stanhope to ensure that local priorities are considered in the development of our new site.

We work very closely with our Learning Team to ensure that the wide variety of exciting programmed activities is communicated to our nearest neighbours.

Since 2016, the British Library has also been developing an Apprenticeships Programme and a Volunteering offer; our Community Engagement Manager is working to ensure that opportunities are shared via our strong local community links.

We are also currently developing a Local Community Engagement Strategy which will be published here soon. 

Activities and ongoing work

Our community engagement work falls into two main areas: ongoing community engagement and community liaison, and developing collaborative community projects led by community interest.

Activities include:

  • producing and disseminating a regular bespoke local community newsletter
  • engaging on an exclusive local community social media platform
  • holding regular meetings with significant local community partners
  • being an active advisory member in community project boards such as Somers Town Futures Big Local Project and community organisations such as St Pancras Community Association
  • supporting existing community activity, for instance through fundraising/collections, offering expertise of British Library staff to community and voluntary sector organisations
  • running and promoting any local community consultation
  • running additional free community tours for any local residents and groups interested in finding out more about the British Library
  • welcoming local community groups into the British Library to host community meetings (wherever there is capacity to do so).

We also work with residents to identify activities and areas of interest for research, and then work with expert teams and curators at the British Library to develop relevant projects. These range from one-off site visits for exclusive ‘Show and Tell’ events to larger scale collaborative events such as Bengali New Year which we ran with Age UK Camden and the Great Croft Resource Centre.

In addition, we identify ways that the British Library can work on longer term community projects with local community organisations to support employment, training and widening participation agendas. Ongoing projects include working with Somers Town Jobs Hub on joint employment projects, working with the local history club on developing research skills and partnering with Culture& to provide a one-year SOCL Traineeship within Community Engagement at the British Library.

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