Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Robots used at 26m British Library store


British Library employee Chris Fletcher explains how the new facility works

The British Library has unveiled its new automated storage facility near Wetherby in West Yorkshire.

Much of the sorting and lifting at the £26m building at Boston Spa is carried out by robots.

The storage facility will eventually house about seven million items from the UK national collection, stored in more than 140,000 bar-coded containers.

The robots pull out the containers and take them to a retrieval area for the staff to take out requested documents.

The building will house low-use material, including books and newspapers.

Minister for Yorkshire and Humber Rosie Winterton, who officially opened the building, said: "This is an exciting development for the British Library and I am delighted that the site at Boston Spa has been chosen as the location for such a nationally significant facility.

'Nation's memory'

"I welcome the library's commitment to the long-term development of this Yorkshire site to safeguard the national collection for the future."

The new facility is housing material which is currently stored in a range of leased properties in London.

The library is now transferring low-use items to Boston Spa, and high-use materials to its headquarters at St Pancras.

Director of finance and corporate services Steve Morris said: "These collection items form a substantial part of the memory of the nation and we are delighted to now be able to store them in environmental conditions that will ensure their long-term survival."

He said the library was also hoping to build a new newspaper storage building at the site, which currently employs about 900 people.

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