The British Library’s chief executive has argued for renewed and sustained investment in the UK’s knowledge infrastructure, saying public and academic libraries are key to the UK’s success globally.
Launching Living Knowledge, an eight-year vision for the British Library to take it through to its 50th anniversary in 2023, c.e.o. Roly Keating also said the British Library’s full potential was only just “beginning to be realised”.
Living Knowledge defines the British Library’s public purposes, and makes the case for its “growing importance at the heart of the UK’s national system of knowledge and innovation, at a time of transformation in technology and data science”. As part of Living Knowledge, the British Library will embark on a series of projects, including digitally preserving the nation’s 6.5 million sound recordings, growing the diversity of the library’s cultural and learning programmes onsite and online, and extending its Business and IP centres - which support businesses by offering advice and resources - to 20 UK city libraries, as yet unspecified.
At a launch for the scheme last night (12th January), Keating said: “Living Knowledge argues that the British Library is a visionary idea whose full potential is only just beginning to be realised as we fully enter the digital age.
“The UK’s continuing success in a globalised world depends upon the freest possible flow of ideas, inspiration and information, and libraries – not just the national library, but the whole, inter-connecting network of public and academic libraries across the UK – are the vital enabler of that.”
Keating added: “The genius of the British Library’s founders was to combine an Enlightenment heritage with a determination to keep pace with research and science in all its forms. Now the library has to adapt to enable people to use technology and data to create new things with our collections and drive knowledge and growth creation in the 21st century.
“These are times of historic disruption in the whole global system of information and publication. “It therefore seems right that the great knowledge institutions – with their historic remit to think and act with a view far into the future – should play a full part in shaping the changes that lie ahead.”