Digital Collections

The British Library is continuously expanding its digital content, ranging from images to sound recordings, enabling the world’s intellectual, scientific and cultural heritage to be accessible in digital format, both at the British Library and online.
Here at British Library Labs, we encourage the experimentation and use of the current Digital Collections. British Library Labs projects leverage existing digital content which has been produced or acquired for our collections.

For example collections, content and even some ideas from the curators about how these collections could be used, we have categorised the resources:

A comprehensive list of research resources, including catalogues, metadata, archives and records, which can be accessed both online or on site at the British Library, St Pancras.

A vast quantity of digital images have been made available for research purposes online and within the British Library, St Pancras. The collections are truly diverse, encompassing prints, drawings, maps, art works and photographs, as well as illuminated manuscripts, digitised bookbindings and philatelic collections.
For example, visit our Flickr page for over 1,000,000 images taken from scanned books, as well as the wiki set up for potential projects working with these images.

Flickr: image from 'Border Lances. A romance of the Northern Marches in the reign of Edward the Third. By the author of “Belt and Spur” [i.e. Emma Louisa Seeley] ... With many illustrations', page 247. Shelfmark: "British Library HMNTS 12624.l.23."

Books / Text
A wealth of books and texts can be accessed for research purposes, both online and onsite at the British Library, St Pancras. The diverse collections available for use include Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, Renaissance scriptures, India Office Lists, Privy Council Papers, as well as some 65,000 digitised volumes of 19th century books, including literature, historical and philosophical works.

Explore digitised music manuscripts, scores and songs, available online and onsite at the British Library, St Pancras. The varied collections range from medieval music manuscripts, 16th century music and ballads, Classical composers, Victorian sheet music and songbooks, to modern pop chart hits.

MapsA range of maps and atlases can be accessed online, as well as onsite at the British Library, St Pancras. We also provide a link to a Georeferencer Data interactive map, an online tool which allows historic maps to be viewed alongside modern-day mapping.

Flickr, Detail of Nicholas Visscher's Leo Belgicus, 1650. Maps C.9.d.1
Discover an array of vibrant sound recordings and archives, both online and onsite at the British Library, St Pancras. The collections range from oral commentaries and histories, to linguistic studies, and nature and wildlife sounds.

Visit Broadcast News onsite at the British Library, St Pancras, and access some 25,000 hours of daily television and radio news recordings.

Intellectual property

Like most libraries of our size, our digitised collections are the result of thousands of small and large digitisation projects and thus come with a patchwork of historical copyright and licensing terms which can flummox even the most determined researchers! One key aim of Labs is to understand just how much these issues impact upon innovative research with our collections and to consider our approach to licensing. If you want to use British Library digital collections for your project and are unsure as to the terms of use, please get in touch as soon as possible.

Please ensure you are mindful of the terms of use for each collection when participating in the Labs competition.

Other digital collections / data to be used with Labs

Please contact British Library Labs with any questions regarding the digital content. If you are aware of digital collections or datasets that could be used together with British Library collections, please let us know and it can be added to this page, or sign up to this wiki and add it to this page yourself.