British Library Leeds plan gets £25m boost

British Library Leeds plan gets £25m boost

The British Library’s plan to set up a northern version in Leeds has been given a £25m boost by the government, alongside up to £95m to redevelop its existing Boston Spa site.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak made the funding commitments in his Budget on 11th March.

It will see a £25m contribution towards the work already under way by Leeds City Council and the British Library to identify and establish a “British Library of the North” in the city centre. Talks are currently underway with property developer CEG about its Temple Works site.

The library also plans to use up to £95m from the government to expand its Boston Spa campus and upgrade some of its storage facilities, which are expected to hit maximum capacity this decade. The 44-acre site is home to over two-thirds of the library’s 170 million item collection.

Some buildings will be exited and others refurbished to bring the site up to date for its 500-strong workforce.

Roly Keating, c.e.o. of the British Library, said: “The British Library has been a major employer in the north of England since the early 1960s and we warmly welcome the much-needed investment in our Boston Spa site announced by the Government. Not only does this allow us to future-proof the vital storage and access infrastructure for one of the world’s greatest cultural and intellectual archives, it also enables us to transform our public offer in the north. Our ambitions to support innovation and inclusivity in the region are huge, and our growing cultural and learning programme is already reaching new audiences, with exciting activities at the forthcoming Sounds Like This Festival, Leeds Digital Festival and Light Night Leeds.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Thanks to our £95 million investment, the British Library will bolster its presence in the North opening up access to a new generation of researchers at Boston Spa and exploring the exciting possibility of a new public space in Leeds. Boston Spa has long been an important part of the nation's information infrastructure. This funding will safeguard its significant collections, improve knowledge and promote digital innovation.”