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BFI and British Library join forces to increase access to their unique collections

13 April 2011

The BFI and the British Library have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with the objective of increasing public, professional and research access to audiovisual and broadcast content and integrating it with other knowledge collections.

Signed by BFI Director, Amanda Nevill and British Library CEO, Dame Lynne Brindley, the MOU outlines key areas for joint strategic thinking, including public access, rights management and digitisation.

Managed by a joint steering committee, this new partnership will look at ways the UK’s leading custodians of the nation’s audiovisual and broadcast heritage can meet the challenges of collecting, preserving and providing contemporary and long term access to their unique collections in the digital age, for the benefit of research and the wider public.

Both organisations aim to explore areas such as: collecting policies; contributing to IPR and copyright discussions; metadata and resource discovery; how new digital technologies and enhanced physical spaces can improve access to film and television content; digital and paper conservation; exhibitions and public programmes; and how both institutions can offer services for the creative industries. More specific details will be developed at a strategic summit in early spring.

Amanda Nevill, Director of the BFI, said: “We are delighted to be developing this key partnership with one of the world-leading custodians of our UK heritage. Partnerships such as this are crucial as we explore new ways to increase access to our collections across a range of different media and platforms in the digital economy and ensure we maximise our combined knowledge, expertise and resources.”

Dame Lynne Brindley, CEO of the British Library, said: “As stated in the Library’s 2020 Vision, providing increased access to broadcast and audiovisual collections is one of our primary goals. This innovative partnership follows on from our MOU with the BBC and demonstrates our commitment to working with other major national institutions for the benefit of researchers.”

Both organisations are already collaborating as members of the UK Sound & Vision Collections group convened by the BFI and looking at national audio-visual collection policy. A letter from the group announcing its formation was recently sent to Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries. Other group members comprise the BBC, the National Archives, the Imperial War Museum, the National Media Museum, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales and National Museums Northern Ireland.

The MOU signed by both parties is non exclusive. Both the BFI and the British Library intend that this partnership will evolve as a model of best practice and in time would seek the opportunity to work with other public archives throughout the UK to expand the project. It complements the MOUs signed between the BBC and BFI in 2009 and between the BBC and the British Library in 2009.

About the BFI

The BFI is the lead body for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:
• Connecting audiences to the widest choice of British and World cinema
• Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations
• Championing emerging and world class film makers in the UK
• Investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work
• Promoting British film and talent to the world
• Growing the next generation of film makers and audiences
For further information visit

The British Library

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.