Researching Propaganda at the British Library

britlib_logoThe British Library will be hosting a free hour-long webinar in March that will explore the British Library’s collections related to propaganda.

In Summer 2013 the British Library hosted an exhibition, Propaganda: Power and Persuasion, examining the communication of power, and attempts to persuade, through the use of visually striking material and the objects of everyday life. Examples of these can be found across the British Library’s collections, and this webinar will describe the types of material that were researched, found and used for the exhibition. It will cover posters, leaflets and pamphlets, maps, philatelic materials and recorded sound.

This webinar will be of most use to people planning to use the British Library collections and Reading Rooms in their research, but will also be of interest to those more generally interested in political history, propaganda and ephemera, and will be hosted by Ian Cooke, the Social Science Curator at the British Library and the curator of the Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition.

It’s being run on Wednesday 12th March from 3pm (GMT). Booking is essential to participate, and to do this, visit the following link:

Beautiful Science at the British Library

British_20Library_20LogoA new free exhibition begins at the British Library today on a scientific theme with an artistic twist.

Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight explores how our understanding of ourselves and our planet has evolved alongside our ability to represent, graph and map the mass data of the time.

From John Snow’s plotting of the 1854 London cholera infections on a map to colourful depictions of the tree of life, you can discover how picturing scientific data provides new insight into our lives.

The exhibition is running in the Folio Society Gallery until 26th May. For further details visit the British Library website here.

Doctoral Open Days at the British Library

blThe British Library is running Doctoral Open Days series for this academic year and booking is now open for events taking place in 2014. These events introduce new PhD students to the British Library’s unique research materials and provide orientation regarding broader information environment for their subject.

The British Library is a hub for research, with vast and varied collections, expert staff and a wide range of events. Students can learn about their collections, find out how to access them, and meet their expert staff along with other researchers in their field.

These events are aimed at PhD students who are new to the British Library. The following events are now open to book:

  • 13 January – Environmental Science
  • 17 January – Digital Research
  • 20 January – History 1
  • 31 January – History 2
  • 3 February – English 1
  • 14 February – English 2
  • 24 February – Media, Cultural Studies and Journalism

All events take place in the British Library Conference Centre, London and cost £5. Lunch and refreshments are provided. It is recommended that to make the most of the day attendees get a free Reader Pass before the event. A small number of £20 travel bursaries are available for each event to students coming from outside Greater London.

Further information and booking details are available at:

British Library Newspaper Collection On the Move

Photo pf British Library gate by pshab

During 2013-14 the British Library is moving the national newspaper collection from its current home in Colindale, North London, to a purpose-built Newspaper Storage Building (NSB) in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.

As such all Print newspapers and microfilm will be embargoed from Friday 8th November 2013, at which point the Reading Room at Colindale will close. Periodical titles remain under embargo, except for a small number of high-use titles which will remain available until the Reading Room at Colindale closes.

Future access to the collection will be via a dedicated newspaper Reading Room at the Library’s main site at St Pancras, where microfilm and digital copies will satisfy the majority of requests. Where no ‘surrogate’ copy exists, it will be possible to request the print originals from Boston Spa; if the required item is in good enough condition to travel, it will be delivered to St Pancras within 48 hours.

The moves are part of a wider programme that aims to safeguard the long-term future of the collection, which includes more than 750 million pages of local, regional and national newspapers, along with periodicals covering every aspect of life in the UK and beyond.

In the mean time, the British Library’s British Newspaper Archive website, which offers free-to-search access to up to 4 million fully searchable pages, featuring more than 200 newspaper titles from every part of the UK and Ireland, remains fully available, while our Library has access to a wealth of newspaper resources online, most notably Nexis UK, as well as the electronic archives of individual papers such as the Guardian & Observer, The Times & Sunday Times, and the Daily Mail Archive, all accessible through Library Catalogue Plus.

For further details and updates on the move, visit the British Library’s ‘Help for Researchers’ page here.

Picture This at the British Library

paddington by peggy fortnum scatterkeir

A new exhibition opened at the British Library this month exploring the history of the illustration of ten much-loved classics of British children’s literature.

Picture This: Children’s Illustrated Classics examines how classic children’s books are remembered not only through the printed text, but also through the artistic interpretation of the illustrator and their relationship with the story. Featuring at least four illustrated editions or pieces of artwork for each title, including rarely seen first editions, the exhibition focuses on 10 classics – Just So Stories, The Iron Man, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wind in the Willows, Paddington Bear, Peter Pan and Wendy, The Hobbit, The Borrowers, The Secret Garden and The Railway Children.
The exhibition should prove of great appeal to artists and students of children’s literature alike. It’s free to visit and is being hosted in the British Library’s Folio Society Gallery, open daily until 26th January.
We have quite a range of classic & modern children’s literature downstairs among our literature collection on Level 2, including nearly all the stories listed above, particularly many works illustrated by artist Quentin Blake, whose work is highlighted in the exhibition, as well as a variety of books on the subject of illustration of children’s books. Why not have a browse?
Paddington Bear by Michael Bond, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum, image by Scatterkeir reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Football Rules OK… at the British Library

footballs by beefy_n1

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Football Association the British Library have just put on display the very first FA football rule book in their Sir John Ritblat Gallery as part of their Treasures of the British Library display.

On 26 October 1863, at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London, a group of men came together to form The Football Association, with the objective of establishing a unified code of rules to regulate the sport. It took six meetings to agree on the original 13 laws of football, which were reproduced in the FA Minute Book, lovingly compiled and handwritten by Ebenezer Cobb Morley, and is today regarded as the most important book in the history of the world’s most popular sport.

The rule book will be on display in the gallery between 21st August – 17th December. It is the latest addition among a host of treasures from the British Library vaults, including a 13th century reissue of the Magna Carta, William Shakespeare’s first folio, some of the very earliest versions of some of the classic works of English literature, and a selection of original written lyrics by the Beatles.

For further details of the exhibition, visit the British Library website here:

Footballs image by beefy_n1, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Benjamin Britten at the British Library

Benjamin Britten in bronze by Michael AmbjornA unique range of exhibitions and events to mark the centenary of the birth of the celebrated English composer Benjamin Britten begins this month at the British Library.

Poetry in Sound: the Music of Benjamin Britten 1913-1976 explores the life and career of a composer whose work spanned practically every musical genre and who drew his inspiration from literature and poetry, including a collaboration with W.H. Auden.

Alongside the manuscripts of some of Britten’s most celebrated compositions, the exhibition will feature photographs, concert programmes, and hitherto unpublished recordings of his music. There will also be a series of talks, forums and musical events through the summer.

The British Library has also digitised all of its Britten manuscripts, which are now available online in a special arrangement with the rights-holders. 

The exhibition, which is part of Britten 100 festival celebrating the centenary of the composer, opens this month and runs through until September. For further details visit the British Library site here:

Bronze bust of Benjamin Britten by Georg Ehrlich, photographed by Michael Ambjorn, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

The Power of Persuasion at the British Library

US Army recruiting poster by DonkeyHoteyA new exhibition opened at the British Library today examining the potent power of propaganda and its often insidious influence on modern human civilisation.

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion explores international state propaganda from the 20th and 21st centuries, encompassing the many ways posters, films, cartoons, sounds and texts have been used by world nations of every political & social creed to try and influence and persuade their citizens to their point of view.

Over 200 different items are on display ranging from recruiting material such as the famous 1917 ‘Uncle Sam’ US Army poster pictured opposite, to playing cards & board games and multimedia sources such as TV adverts, right up to the digital age with a section devoted to social media and Twitter in particular.

The exhibition runs from 17th May to 17th September. For further details, visit the British Library website here;

US Army recruiting poster by DonkeyHotey, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Help Innovate the British Library and win £3000!

BL_labs_pictureThe British Library have just launched a competition inviting proposals for an innovative project utilising their vast digital collection. The eventual winner will receive £3000 and a residency at the British Library while their project is implimented.

The Labs competition is designed to attract scholars, explorers, trailblazers and software developers who see the potential for new and innovative research and development opportunities lurking within the British Library’s immense digital collections. Through soliciting imaginative and transformative projects utilising this content entrants will be giving the British Library a steer as to the types of new processes, platforms, arrangements, services and tools needed to make it more accessible.

A virtual discussion about the competition is being held this Friday (17th May) using Google Hangout should you wish to find out more. Full details and terms & conditions of the contest are also available via British Library website here:

Preserving the Nation’s Digital Memory

computers by jisc

An ambitious project has just been launched by the British Library to collect and preserve everything that is published online in Britain.

The archive will cover 4.8 million websites encompassing books and academic journals as well as alternative sources of literature, news and comment including popular blogs, web forums and social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.

Six ’Legal Deposit Sites’ led by the British Library and including the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales and the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford will be allowed to collect and store anything that is published online in the UK web domain. This archive will then be made available to future generations of social historians and researchers who will doubtless be looking to find some arcane meaning to our ‘Google’ age!

To start the ball rolling, the participating Libraries have come up with a list of what they deem to be the 100 most important and notable websites to archive – and they’re keen to get the British public in on the act too! So if you’d like to suggest your nominations, or just browse the list they’ve come up with, visit the British Library site here:

Computers image by Jisc, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.