Proposed changes to BFI’s Library and Research Viewings Service

This letter from Cultural Programme Director Heather Stewart reiterates the BFI’s plans for its library and research viewings service.


Dear colleague

I am writing to you with news of some proposed changes in the BFI’s Library and Research Viewings Service.

As you may already know, the BFI is to take on responsibility for most of the functions of the UK Film Council. This marks a new era for the BFI as we create a single, lead body for film in the UK.

However, before we take on our new responsibilities, we must address how we can continue to deliver our strategic objectives in what has become a very challenging financial environment.

Over the past six years we have had no increase in our grant-in-aid, despite steadily rising utility and pension costs which have created an ever widening gap in our budgets. Whilst we have been very good at bringing in new sources of funding from sponsorship and donations, and at increasing earned income from ticket sales, DVD publishing and footage sales to TV, we now face a 15% cut in our grant-in-aid funding over the next four years.

We can no longer deliver all the services we want to or once did as an organisation, and it has forced us to review our structure and look at how the BFI can continue to deliver appropriate services but on less money.

We have developed a set of proposals based on reducing overheads; restructuring our activities to become more efficient and to maximise collaborative working across divisions; and investing in digital technology and new business opportunities to grow income.

We had hoped to bring in investment to Collections and Information via a partnership with Higher Education, but with the cuts to HE funding this now looks highly unlikely.

Developing access to the collections we care for continues to be a key goal. The Library collections are core to the development, care and interpretation of the national collection, and essential to the curatorial research and development and creation of knowledge that are key to developing our cultural programme.

We propose relocating the Library to BFI Southbank, redeveloping the space in the course of 2011 to re-house the BFI Library from our Stephen Street location. This proposal results in a need for off-site storage for much of the Collection, with changes to lead times for booking materials, with many of these materials to be delivered digitally. Locating the Library at BFI Southbank means it can be tied more closely to growing audiences, the delivery of the cultural and education programmes and to the BFI Mediatheque. A digital-on-demand service will allow desktop delivery of the Collections in the Library, and the ambition is to roll out similar services at BFI Mediatheques and – rights permitting – to HE.

For those researchers who need to conduct research in the collections, we will create a bespoke research facility at the BFI National Archive in Berkhamsted where the collections are physically held.

At this stage these are proposals and there are many dependencies and considerations to work through. But we must make the necessary changes quickly and I wanted to give you an idea of the direction of travel.

The difficult reality is that these changes will lead to some redundancies. More detailed information will be made available on our website when we start formal consultation in late January with our staff.

Yours sincerely

Heather Stewart

Cultural Programme Director


21 Stephen St

London  W1T 1LN

Tel: 0207 957 4804


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s