British Library opens National Newspaper Building

(23 January 2015) The UK national newspaper collection, held by the British Library, is one of the greatest of its kind in the world. Spanning more than three centuries, it comprises local, regional and national newspapers from across the UK as well as many overseas titles. It is an invaluable historical resource for tens of thousands of researchers every year and continues to grow as some 1200 titles every week are received by the Library through legal deposit.

Today the new long-term home for the newspaper collection is officially opened, marking the culmination of a £33 million programme to move, preserve and provide access to the newspaper collection for generations to come. The National Newspaper Building, located at the British Library’s northern site at Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, will be opened by Councillor David Congreve, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, and Alec Shelbrooke MP (Elmet and Rothwell) at an event on Friday.

The National Newspaper Building was purpose-built to provide the ideal environmental conditions in which to store millions of old newspapers – many of which are in a fragile state. The vast facility, which houses around 33km of newspapers, maintains constant temperature and humidity, and a dark and airtight, low-oxygen environment to eliminate the risk of fire. The newspapers are stored in high-density racking 20 metres high and collection items are retrieved by robotic cranes, which transfer stacks of newspapers via an airlock to a retrieval area where staff can remove requested items and send them either to the British Library Newsroom at St Pancras or the on-site Reading Room at Boston Spa.

The complete illustrated announcement is here.