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British Library newspaper archive move will bring treasure trove to Leeds

NEWS UPDATE: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, left, with Roly Keating CEO of the British Library, in the new building. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

NEWS UPDATE: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, left, with Roly Keating CEO of the British Library, in the new building. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Work to bring one of the world’s largest newspaper collections to a new home in Yorkshire is now in its final phase.

Building work has been completed on the £33m storage centre at the British Library’s Boston Spa site and it is now about to be fitted out with around 50km of robotic shelving.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey yesterday visited the purpose-built facility, which will eventually house around 290,000 bound volumes containing 750m pages of newsprint.

The collection, some of which dates back 300 years, includes copies of every edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post ever printed.

The building, which will replace an ageing archive in North London, has been designed to protect the newspapers with temperature and humidity controls and a low-oxygen atmosphere to minimise fire risk.

Steve Morris, one of the British Library’s directors, said it was important to preserve the collection for future generations.

“Newspapers are an incredible contemporaneous record of history and we think they are an absolute treasure trove,” he said.

The newspapers are to be moved from the Colindale archive in the capital from next October and the process is expected to take around a year.

Around 700 people are employed at the Boston Spa site – nearly 40 per cent of the British Library’s workforce.

Mr Morris said more jobs would be created or secured in the region by the move. Work is also under way to digitise the collection together with online publisher Brightsolid.

Around 6m pages have already been completed and uploaded to the online British Newspaper Archive and 40m more are expected be digitised from the new site by the end of the decade.

 

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