CPD25 to the BFI National Library

Hello- just thought I'd tell you about the cpd25 visit I went on yesterday to the BFI National Library.

The BFI (British Film Institute) Library is one of the largest collections in the world for the study of international cinema and television. It has 60,00 titles, 6,000 periodicals and 2 million cuttings on film & T.V titles and individuals. The hub of the library is its Reading Room, based on Tottenham Court Road. This is a lovely working space, although relatively small, and the library staff are particularly friendly and fun- and devoted, as they often undertake extensive research for their readers.

There is also a large closed-access basement storage facility on site, where many periodicals, magazines, books, pamphlets festival brochures are kept. These are easily accessible to the public through a fetching system. I loved going down into the basement as the staff have decorated it with amazing film posters, quotes, pictures and clippings. The people who work in the library are obviously passionate about film, although they do not all have an academic background in film studies.

Surprisingly, this is a relatively low-tech library, with only 1 internet terminal and lots of material on microfilm/fiche. However, there is a Screen Online terminal in the Reading Room, which houses a program giving access to some of the 'rarer treasures of the National (BFI)Archive.' As well as a talk from the head librarian, the Reading Room manager and a curator from the BFI archive, we also were spoken to by a Special Collections librarian, who showed us some of the rare and fantastic material the library holds. This includes around 30,000 unpublished scripts and 30,000 press books.

Overall, this library really stood out because although it deals with many typical difficult issues facing libraries today, such as lack of funding and space, it is overcoming those trials by focusing on great reader service and maintaining a devotion to the aims of their library. Well worth a look. But only if you can go down to the basement.

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