British Library collections leave London
MANY journalists have a love-hate relationship with the rickety old far-flung Newspaper Library in Colindale. But those of you who like to browse through and handle real paper newspapers in your researches will have to catch them while you can, as the Newspaper Library begins its long shutdown in December this year.
The original newspapers still on paper will be shipped out from their current Colindale home in (far) North London to the British Library's Document Supply facility in Boston Spa, Yorkshire, from where it will become next to impossible to get your hands on the originals.
The newspapers currently in Colindale on everybody's least favourite format - microfilm - will gradually migrate to the British Library's St Pancras site, with Colindale completely emptied by 2011. With 750 million pages to digitise at £1 a page, there no prospect of a transfer of the Newspaper Library's existing inaccessible paper copies to a searchable digital format any time soon. (And see www.londonfreelance.org/fl/0810orph.html for some implications of libraries putting your work online.)
The "low-use" monographs and serials collection, currently held "off-site" round the corner from the St Pancras site at the BL's Micawber St depot, will also start to move to Boston Spa from January 2009. Older volumes of some surprisingly mainstream journals are already classified as "low-use".
During these moves, bits of the collection will be completely inaccessible for several weeks. So if you've been putting off some British Library research days, it might be a good idea to put them down on your list of things to do when there's no work coming in over Christmas. Seasonal opening hours and the timetable for the collections moving out are at www.bl.uk/collectionmoves.
A five-year Reading Room pass for the British Library sites in both Colindale and St Pancras is yours on presentation of your Press Card.