CULTURE Minister Ed Vaizey has visited one of the world’s greatest newspaper libraries, which is being created in a cavernous new building near Boston Spa.
The high-tech Newspaper Storage Building at the British Library will eventually contain 750 million pages from more than 300 years of local, regional and national newspapers – including The Press and its predecessor, The Yorkshire Evening Press.
The building is 24 metres high – almost half the height of the Minster – and a series of measures has been taken to ensure the newspapers are well preserved.
Levels of oxygen in the airtight complex will be reduced from normal levels of 20 per cent to 14.6 to ensure the collection cannot catch fire and, no matter what the weather is like outside, temperatures will be kept at a constant 14C, with humidity maintained at 52.5 per cent.
Conditions contrast sharply with the current, outdated home of the newspapers, in Colindale, north London, which has no temperature or humidity controls.
The newspapers will be put on to racking up to 20 metres high by robots, and will be bar-coded to ensure they can be retrieved whenever needed.
Construction of the racking is expected to be completed by next Easter, and it will then take six months for the collection to be moved to Boston Spa from London, at the rate of three articulated lorries per day.
The £10 million new building has been funded as part of a £33 million investment by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to safeguard the long-term future of the national newspaper collection.
Steve Morris, director of finance and corporate services at the British Library, said he expected staff from libraries around the world to come to Boston Spa to inspect the storage building.
Mr Vaizey praised the new building. He said: “It’s fantastic. This is going to store one of the greatest newspaper collections in the world, dating back to the 18th century, including not just national newspapers but also local newspapers from across the country.”