Case study

The British Library goes digital

Posted by : Peter Wienand

With Farrer’s breadth of expertise and significant experience of both the cultural and media sectors, we were perfectly placed to undertake such multi-faceted and complex work.

Farrers advised the British Library on its partnership with brightsolid online technology, owned by DC Thomson, for the digitisation of up to 40 million pages of the Library’s newspaper archive. The contract was procured using the new Competitive Dialogue procedure. 

Anon, corner

The British Library holds around 750 million paper pages and 370,000 reels of microfilm in its various repositories. The archive is of newspaper, magazine, journal, serial, periodical and other content dating back to the 16th Century, much of it held by virtue of legal deposit legislation.

Legal deposit helps to ensure that the nation’s published output is collected systematically in order to preserve the material and make it available for future use. The British Library aims to make 80 per cent of its ‘reader requests’ for newspaper material available by means of digital surrogates by 2017. The digitisation project with brightsolid represents a significant step towards achieving that objective.

A project of this scale requires particular project management skills and involves input from many different experts. With our breadth of expertise and significant experience of both the cultural and media sectors, we were perfectly placed to undertake such multi-faceted and complex work.

“Mass digitisation unlocks the riches of our newspaper collections by making them available online to users across the UK and around the world,” explains Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library. “By making these pages fully searchable, we will transform a research process which previously relied on scrolling through page after page of microfilm or print.”