Read all about it: First glimpse inside British Library's new home for its UK national newspaper collectionCulture Minister Ed Vaizey was given a sneak peek of the British Library's new Newspaper Storage Building at Boston Spa, Wetherby, West YorkshireThe state of the art facility will be controlled by robotic shelves and features humidity, temperature and oxygen controls
10:30 GMT, 14 December 2012
With its neck-achingly high ceilings and vast amounts of space, this giant warehouse could be used to store almost anything.
But this is no ordinary building – it will soon be packed to the rafters with millions and millions of pages of local and national newspapers from as far back as the 16th century.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey was given a first glimpse at the British Library's enormous new Newspaper Storage Facility at Boston Spa, near Wetherby, West Yorkshire.
Vast: Mick Moran of Kier Construction Northern, is dwarfed by the shelving racks in the new newspaper storage building of the British Library in Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire
Sneak peek: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey (left) talks to Roly Keating CEO of the British Library, as they stand amongst the shelving racks in the new newspaper storage building
Starting in the new year, the painstaking and laborious task of delicately moving millions of newspapers some 192 miles north from their current Colindale, north London home, will begin.
The state-of-the-art facility will be controlled by some 160km of robotic shelf space, with newspapers kept in low oxygen to prevent risk of fire.
The new building features full temperature and humidity control to maintain collection items in archival standard conditions and drastically increase the life span of the physical items.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE RESEARCHING AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY
Some 30,000 researchers consult documents from the national newspaper collection each year, but what are they researching
56 per cent of material viewed is from local newspapers from the UK and Ireland31 per cent view national titles43 per cent are pursuing personal interests, such as trying to piece together their family historyA further 29 per cent are using the resources to research school or university projects
The collection items held at Boston Spa continue to be available in the British Library’s St Pancras Reading Rooms, which are used by around half a million researchers every year.
Readers order items 48 hours in advance through the Library’s automated book retrieval system
It is the first time the full collection will be stored outside of London.
The British Museum had originally begun collecting newspapers in the 1820s but ran out of storage space by the turn of the 20th century.
Only widespread opposition stopped a proposal to dispose of all the provincial newspapers collected and a storage building was constructed at Colindale in north London, opening in 1905.
The building was home to a large collection of English local newspapers, Welsh, Scottish and Irish titles, but London newspapers and foreign copies were kept at the main British Museum building in Bloomsbury with a weekly transport system – initially consisting of a horse-drawn cart – delivering papers to readers in the Newspaper Reading Room at the museum.
The repository was full after 20 years and in 1928 a purpose-built newspaper library was commissioned a Colindale which was completed four years later.
New home: Steve Morris from the British Library reads a local paper as he stands in the new storage building, left, while and extendable platform vehicle operates between the vast rows of shelves
Huge: The new centre will be one of the most high tech newpspaer storage facilities in the world
It contained a 56 capacity reading room , a bindery and a six-floor additional storage building.
That building was destroyed by German bombs in October 1940 along with some 6,000 newspapers, mainly from the late 19th century.
Two temporary storage buildings were thrown up and they are still in use today.
The newspaper library became part of the newly-formed British Library in 1973.
Now, some 200,000 articles are consulted by 30,000 researchers each year. The library is comprised of some 52,000 titles with 13,000 issues added a month.
The British Library has been digitalising millions of pages of newsprint since 2011 with more than six million pages already available online.
Reading room: Researchers will still be able to read old newspapers by ordering them 48 hours in advance to a reading room at the British Library in London, pictured