Blog Type, Fellowship Blog, IPT Blog, Industry Sector, Digital | February 2017

Tracey Jessup Visits the British Library

On Monday 6 February, Tracy Jessup, Deputy Director, Parliamentary Digital Service visited the British Library as part of her IPT Fellowship exploring digital communication and strategic leadership. Commenting on her visit Tracey said: 

“If Carlsberg made libraries they would probably have come up with the British Library. Looming large in the landscape it is the mother ship of research and was full of "readers" utilising its comprehensive reading material. But increasingly it is other things too. It is a home to all who want to learn, and everywhere in its corridors and atriums work spaces had been created which were full of people studying and learning independently from the library's material.

(Image above: Tracey Jessop with Kevin Mehmet, Welcome Team Manager, looking at the BL’s Mechanical Book Handling System – used to take hundreds of collection items from the Library’s basements to their Reading Rooms each day). 

It is also an exhibition and event space, and a welcoming stop for those who simply want to come and look, appreciated the architecture and the history and visit the cafe or shop. This multitude of identities led to a fascinating discussion on customer insight work. Really understanding different customer groups and what they want from the Library is clearly important to them. As is seeking to understand those who don't engage with them.

To help with engagement and understanding the British Library, just like the UK Parliament, is planning to completely change and modernise its website.

We both have websites that aren't that old, but were designed before the era of smart phones and tablets. Developing user led content which invites you to explore and understand and makes the most of the wealth of knowledge and information which the British Library has, are aims which we share. A visit to an iconic institution in a very different field, but one which is grappling with many of the same digital questions we are.”