BFI library update May 2012

BFI National Library May 2012

In this newsletter I have good news to report on the progress of the construction of the new Library at BFI Southbank and also a reminder of our closure dates while we relocate the books and other content and prepare the new space.

On 1 April access to the BFI Library became free ahead of its move to BFI Southbank. Almost from day one, librarians reported a noticeable increase in visitors to the current Stephen Street site and they’ve received almost unanimous positive support for the move. It all augurs well for the future. Whenever possible, we have responded to your questions about the move and the changes to Library services and I hope you feel we have addressed your concerns. Mostly, we and the majority of our users are hugely excited about the new Library and the possibilities for its future development.

We have even received compliments about the hoardings we put up around the Library building site at South Bank. Designed by our own BFI Studio they tell a great story for the move which has been matched only by the efficiency and professionalism of the construction work itself. Building work started in early March and the team is currently well on track and delivering a high standard of work.

We expect everything to be completed in early May after which Library staff will be trained and familiarised with the facilities – everything from where the light switches are to operating the new state of the art scanning equipment. The books and collections will be moved from mid-May (see details below) and the new BFI Library will open to the public on 12 June with a formal launch in September. This significant refurbishment will make the Library more accessible, attract new users, and integrate its considerable resources into our public and cultural programmes. It will have a brand new Saturday service, regular longer weekday opening hours and offer increased digitisation of resources.

REMINDER: How to plan your requirements around the BFI Library closure and temporary restricted access to press clippings

The Library will be closed from Monday 14 May to Tuesday 12 June. We are working hard to minimise disruption to all our Library users, but unavoidably services will be temporarily shut or restricted as content is digitised and while we move our books and resources to their new home. We apologise for this inconvenience and recognise that Library users may need to access our collections for a range of research and study needs during this time. If you know you will need to use the services between Monday 14 May and Tuesday 12 June, we strongly advise you to plan ahead. If in any doubt, please discuss your requirements with the Library team.

Service alternatives
The following measures outline the options for alternative access:
1. A transitional digital-on-demand request service for articles, book chapters and press cuttings that cannot be accessed elsewhere
2. Bibliography and filmography compilation from our databases available upon request
3. There will be a five day turnaround on the above requests, in line with current enquiries policy
4. There will be limited Special Collections access during this time, please contact the department by emailing

Changes to press cuttings access
The BFI’s extensive press cuttings collection has to date only been accessible on microfiche. The whole collection is now being digitised and will not be available to access during this process. Digitisation of the first section of cuttings (around 50,000 individual microfiche relating ‘Personalities’) began in late March with the remainder relating to film and television titles to be processed when the Stephen Street Library closes on 14 May.
When the new Library opens in June, 25% of the collection will be available digitally, with the remainder being phased in regular instalments. A core ambition of the Library’s digitisation programme is to make the entire collection available as fully searchable digitised images by September to tie in with our official launch.
Again, we recognise the foremost needs of our users to be able to access these collections during the digitisation period.

To see the press clippings, please:
1. Organise and plan ahead. Requests for cuttings need to be made in advance and please allow for a five day turnaround
2. You will be given access to the original press cuttings that are held at our Paperstore in archival conditions
3. Some of the cuttings date back to the 1930s and great care must be taken in their handling. If, for preservation purposes, they are considered too fragile then they may not be available for viewing. This will be in exceptional circumstances only.

Our librarians will be available to discuss your research needs throughout the closure period on email

Gabriele Popp, BFI Head of Information


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