British Library Labs Competition 2016 - FAQs

If you have a question not addressed below, please email

What types of entries is the Competition looking for?

Please see past examples of BL Labs Competition winners, runners up and shortlisted entries, attend one of our events, or email for further information.

What digital collections are available for use in my Competition entry(s)?

The Competition requires that you use at least one British Library digital collection or item in your entry, although you can include as many as you like. Please see our digital collections.

Can I include digital collections that aren’t from the British Library in my entry(s)?

You are welcome to reference other digital collections that aren't from the British Library in your entry(s). However, please remember that the purpose of the Competition is to highlight use of the British Library's digital content and data, and therefore you must include at least one BL digital collection per Competition entry.

Can my Competition entry(s) involve digitisation work?

BL Labs does not promote the digitisation of content for the Competition, as the project’s focus is on the British Library’s digital collections which are already digitised or born digital. If you would like to digitise a small amount of content for your entry(s), please email

Can I submit more than one Competition entry?

Yes, you are allowed to submit as many different entries as you like.

Can teams apply for the Competition?

Yes, although we recommend the team size being no more than 5 people for manageability and practical purposes.

What is the prize for the Competition?

Two finalists will be chosen through the judging process. Both finalists will receive financial and curatorial support up to the value of £3600 from the British Library for completing their project. This will involve a residency at the British Library for a mutually agreed period of time (dependent on the finalists' circumstances, the finalists' ideas, access to resources and subject to contract). The winner and runner up will be chosen by the judging team by 0900 Monday 7th of November 2016. The two completed projects will be showcased at the BL Labs Symposium held at the British Library Conference Centre, St Pancras on 7th November 2016. The overall winner will receive £3000 and the runner up £1000 for completing their project.

When is the deadline for submission in the BL Labs Competition (2016)?

All entries must be submitted by midnight BST on 11th April 2016.

Any tips on submitting my Competition entry(s)?

Please research available British Library digital collections and data and Labs' digital collections guide, which can be used in your project. We recommend you work on a draft submission using the text version of the online submission form before you submit your entry(s). For entry ideas, please see past examples of BL Labs Competition winners, runners up and other entries.
You must tick to indicate that you accept the terms and conditions before submitting your entry.

What if I want to resubmit my Competition entry(s)?

If you make a mistake or want to add something to your entry(s), you can resubmit as many times as you want before the submission deadline date of midnight BST on Monday 11th April 2016. After this date you cannot submit or resubmit any further entry(s) for the BL Labs Competition (2016).

Can previous winners or runners up of the Labs Competition and / or Awards submit an entry?

Yes as long as their entry is not the same as the one they used to win.

How will my Competition entry(s) be assessed?

Your entry(s) will be assessed through the procedures outlined in the Competition judging process. The judging panel will use the assessment criteria listed to decide on the winning entries.

If I win, how will I be able to work on my entry?

The BL Labs team will work with you to complete your project entry between Thursday 26th May and Friday 4th November 2016. The process in which you undertake your project will depend on your individual circumstances, your project methods and ideas, available British Library resources and financial support from BL Labs of £3600 maximum. If you need to work on site at the British Library, we will discuss with you when and how this will take place. You will be required to showcase your completed project at the BL Labs Symposium at the British Library Conference Centre, St Pancras on Monday 7th November 2016.

If I win, do I have to work in residence at the British Library?

You will be required to work on your project, partially in residence, with our team (with expenses paid up to a maximum of £3,600 per finalist) between 27th May and 4th November 2016. This will be determined by your personal circumstances, your project idea, access needed to British Library digital content, licensing restrictions and budget allowance. Please note that to apply for residency and be on site in staff areas at the British Library you will be subject to a security clearance which can take up to 4 weeks.

If I create a software code for my entry(s), what licence can it be distributed under?

If you are preparing software for the Competition, you must ensure it is developed on the principles of open source software, and made available royalty free.

Do I need to discuss my Competition entry(s) with anyone?

It is up to you if you want to discuss your entry(s) with anyone, but we encourage you to email BL Labs any time at with your enquiries and ideas.
@BL_Labs and #bldigital hash tag should be used for open discussion of any Competition entry, including your own.

What if I have plagiarised the entry(s) I submit for the Competition?

You are responsible for the authenticity and originality of your entry(s). If we discover your entry has been plagiarised, you will be disqualified from the Competition.

How old do I have to be to enter the Competition?

You need to be 18 years of age or older to enter the Competition.

I am not from the UK, can I enter the Competition?

Yes. Please note that if you win and you are not a resident of the UK, BL Labs will discuss with you how we will work with you on your winning entry(s).