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British Library Newspaper Archive move underway

13th January 2014

A British Library initiative to move the vast national newspaper collection from its present home in Colindale, north London, to its purpose-built Newspaper Storage Building at Boston Spa in West Yorkshire isunderway. 

The collection includes more than 300 years of local, regional and national newspapers, totalling an estimated 750 million pages. The new storage facility – the construction of which was project managed by Capita - will have full temperature and humidity control and will enable the newspaper collections to be kept in archival standard conditions for the first time ever.

The store will be dark and levels of oxygen in the airtight storage void will be reduced to eliminate fire risk. No staff will enter the void, instead relying on an automated storage system to deliver items through airlocks to an adjacent retrieval area.

Once the print newspapers have moved to Boston Spa, access to newspaper content will be via microfilm or digital copies made available in a dedicated Reading Room at the Library’s main St Pancras site. Where no copies exist, it will be possible to request the print originals from Boston Spa.

The Newspaper Storage Building’s design is based on that of the Additional Storage Building, which opened at Boston Spa in 2009. Its size and characteristics make it one of the most remarkable library buildings in the world:

  • The main storage void measures 24 metres high by 24 metres wide by 64 metres high;
  • When complete, the facility will store 33 linear kilometres of newspapers;
  • The move from Colindale will involve 290,000 bound volumes of newspaper travelling to Boston Spa over seven months, at a rate of three articulated lorries per day;
  • Temperature in the void will be a constant 14 degrees C, and 55% humidity to lengthen the life of fragile newspaper;
  • Oxygen levels in the void will be reduced to 14.6% to eliminate the risk of fire.

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