Shared Research Repository

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The beta launch of our shared research repository

Published date:


The British Library has launched a beta-version Shared Research Repository for cultural and heritage organisations, after announcing a pilot project last year. 

The shared research repository is created in collaboration with our five project partners who are all UK cultural and heritage organisations: the British Museum, Tate, National Museums Scotland (NMS), MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology), and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The British Library and its project partners are all Independent Research Organisations, this means we undertake significant research, but research is not our main function; we share the need to make our research more discoverable, and the creation of the Shared Research Repository will transform how this research can be found and used.

Our research

Our organisations are research active, working with partners both nationally and internationally. Our research informs and supports almost every aspect of our work, be it curation, conservation, preservation, resource discovery, digital innovation or learning. Whether it’s a major exhibition or a new way to discover or understand a unique part of our collections, it has been enabled by staff research.

The shared research repository allows open access to research undertaken by the five partners and the British Library, ensuring that research gains exposure, is discoverable, and is used by anyone to support and further their own research. The shared repository allows users to search across the combined content, meaning that common research topics and collaborative activities can be discovered and explored through a single search. Search the Shared Research Repository

For example, a researcher exploring written scripts in historic documents may be interested in the digitised indexes of the British Library’s Hebrew manuscripts, the development of Pictish written symbols (NMS) and excavated Roman writing tablets as recorded by MOLA. Similarly, the scientific research on plant species by Kew staff might be complemented by fossil reports from NMS or interpretation of the plants presented in botanical drawings held by Tate or the British Museum.

Material such as journal articles, conference papers, books and book chapters, reports, datasets, exhibition texts, images and blog posts all produced by our staff and research associates are now available to explore and download. Where the full item cannot be added, metadata about the research output is provided together with a link to the full item held elsewhere. The repository currently holds just a selection of outputs to give a flavour of our research activities, with many more to be added in the coming months.

The British Library's repository

The material in the British Library’s own repository relates to research around our printed, digital and heritage collections, our exhibitions, new forms of research, and our major role in library infrastructure activities. For example, our public exhibitions involve many hours of work to prepare, research and interpret collection items for the displays and gallery texts, and these form unique research outputs. Datasets generated through new forms of research include outputs such as XML transcriptions of ancient digitised texts used for training in optical character recognition. And library infrastructural activities include articles and reports written by our colleagues around book conservation, digital preservation and international co-operation.

Find out more about collaborative research activities at the British Library, or download our latest annual Research Report.

And start exploring the Library's research repository now.

Shared repository

The Shared Research Repository consists of individual repositories for each partner plus a shared layer offering a single point of access to the combined content. Each partner is responsible for depositing and managing their own content, while the overall repository service is managed the British Library and is currently a beta service. The next few months will see all partners continuing to add more research outputs, and we will assess the impact of making our research discoverable and available for use by researchers everywhere. 

If all goes well we’ll be looking at how we can extend the service both in the volume of content available, and the number and range of partner organisations including beyond the cultural sector. Do get in touch if you'd like to find out more.


25 Nov 2019