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Royal College of Surgeons’ Library collection to be stored at the British Library, Boston Spa

01 Nov 2017

british library logo The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and the British Library are pleased to announce that they have signed an agreement for the provision of storage of most of the RCS Library’s Designated collections at the British Library’s Boston Spa site in Yorkshire. This agreement will initially cover the period of the RCS’s major building re-development, Project Transform.

Researchers will be able to request material for return to London for consultation through the British Library’s Document Supply Service. Books and journals stored at Boston Spa will also be directly accessible at the British Library’s Reading Room in Boston Spa.

A proportion of the library collection will return to the new RCS building when it is completed in 2020. In the meantime researchers will be able to request access to RCS library collections. Books which are available for borrowing can be recalled to the RCS Nuffield building in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Books and journals whose use requires invigilation will either be made available at the London Metropolitan Archives in Islington, or at the British Library’s Reading Room in Boston Spa.

Andrew Reed, RCS Chief Executive said:

“We are delighted that RCS’s nationally important library collection will be stored in the excellent care of the British Library during the period of redevelopment, and that a longer term storage strategy will be developed. What is equally important is that researchers will continue to have access to the RCS library collections requiring invigilation with staff on hand to assist with queries.  Both the British Library’s Boston Spa Reading Room and the London Metropolitan Archives reading room facilities are comfortable and provided with modern amenities to support researchers.

We are looking forward to exploring new engagement activities, such as public exhibitions and events, outreach to research audiences and professional skills sharing.”

Andy Appleyard, the British Library’s Head of Operations North:

“We are pleased to be able to store the RCS Library collection and to ensure continuity of access for their researchers. Along with our BL on Demand document supply service, the British Library’s site at Boston Spa also services our main Reading Rooms at St Pancras with low-use and newspaper items from our own collections on a daily basis; we’re therefore ideally positioned to deliver the same combination of storage and access for the RCS.”

For further information and updates on access arrangements during the period of redevelopment please visit RCS Library web pages.

designated outstanding collectionThe RCS library, museums and archives collections reflect the history and development of British surgery, including dental surgery, and the surgical profession. They tell the story of surgical development and the profession’s endeavours to improve procedures and patient safety - from the first use of antiseptic in the operating theatre to the birth of minimally invasive keyhole surgery. Many of the items in our collections are rare or unique. The RCS Archives are also registered as a ‘place of deposit’ under the Public Records Act 1958.

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages. See more at:

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