BFI National Library newsletter

Newsletter circulated by the BFI today:

BFI National Library update November 2011

The BFI is facing huge and exciting changes across all areas of its business since it became the lead body for film in April this year. It is a uniquely important time as we look to create a vision and framework for a new era for film.

As part of this new chapter for the BFI, we are exploring ways to modernise and expand the offering of the BFI National Library, to create the leading centre for film knowledge in the UK both as a physical place to visit and online for everyone. Key to this aim is increased digitisation and greater integration with our public and cultural programmes.

 You are receiving this newsletter as a friend, user, supporter or member of the Library to update you with developments to date and the options we are exploring.

As some of you already know, we have been investigating the options around relocating the Library from its current home in Stephen Street to our nearby venue on London’s South Bank. For the first time, this means we could develop a single, coherent creative vision across the venue that would bring together the whole BFI offer in one place – from the Mediatheque and programming, to Education and Collections.

World class

We want the new Library to continue to deliver a world-class specialist service for the scholarly film researcher, while also being a welcoming space for both the casual and first-time user. Our ambition is to integrate library services into the public offer at BFI Southbank by creating a space that sits well in the building, allows us to contribute and participate in existing educational, cultural and programming activities, and which encourages visitors to the BFI Southbank to use the facility and enhance their film-going experience.

We have been pleased with initial positive responses to our proposals while also acknowledging other concerns that the move will reduce our existing services or make access more difficult. The services will change but our committed aim is to improve, modernise and expand our Library offering.

Since we announced this proposal at the end of last year, we have set up a core project team to carry out detailed investigation and planning work, to explore funding and development options and to consider how best we could use the former Gallery space at BFI Southbank to achieve a phased roll out of our Library ambition.

To help us in this exploration and produce a great solution both for Library users and the BFI we have tendered and will shortly brief a firm of architects to draw up a creative concept for the space available at BFI Southbank. We want a modern and flexible physical environment through which a wider audience can connect to the knowledge resources held by the Library. The design response should be complete in December and it will be used to inform a decision on the next phase of the Library development – including timeframe, scope and cost.


We have also begun widespread consultation around a new Library and earlier this month we launched an online survey to around 3,400 targeted stakeholders, including many of the recipients of this newsletter. The survey will help build a picture of how and who the current Library is used by as well as visitor/member needs and aspirations. We have held a number of focus groups with further one-on-one interviews planned to inform future decisions.  Several communities of interest have already been involved in discussions and we will continue to publicise our ideas as the project progresses through this newsletter.

Heather Stewart, Creative Director, BFI

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