The British Library recently launched its new Membership scheme, which offers a way to support the work of the Library, while also gaining access to a range of fantastic benefits.
In common with many of the UK’s great museums and galleries it offers many of its key services for free: in particular, its permanent exhibition, the John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library; free access to its wifi-enabled public spaces and, of course, the services it offers to more than 400,000 users of its Reading Rooms every year.
Membership is a popular way for national institutions such as the Tate and the National Gallery to build up their supporter base, and provides a vital additional source of income alongside public funding and commercial revenue. It’s an increasingly crowded market, though, so the Library had to think long and hard about a suitably attractive range of benefits that would encourage people to become British Library Members.
From the start it was clear that free access to its paid exhibitions would be a key benefit. Over the past few years, the Library has staged a range of hugely popular and critically acclaimed exhibitions, on subjects ranging from propaganda to Gothic literature, from West Africa to British comics. Last year’s Magna Carta exhibition was its most successful ever, and its exhibition on Shakespeare this summer received the best visitor feedback it’s ever had, with the exception of Magna Carta.
The richness and density of its exhibitions – not least because so many items are manuscripts, rare books and letters – means that they benefit from repeated viewing. The unlimited access to paid exhibitions that comes with British Library Membership is therefore sure to be a big draw for many people – especially given that it’s recently opened a major exhibition Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line.
The Library has also developed some exclusive spaces that Members will have access to when visiting St Pancras, including its new Members’ Room and the Knowledge Centre Bar. Both spaces have been refurbished to make them attractive places to enjoy coffee, a glass of wine or a light meal between visiting an event or exhibition. This also an opportunity to support the Knowledge Quarter mission in knowledge exchange, allowing their staff to meet and share best practice in stylish Members Rooms at all times.
The Library’s events programme is another key attraction: over the coming months it will be increasing the number of events it stages and featuring big names including Alan Moore, Derren Brown, Ali Smith and Michael Morpurgo. Members receive four free tickets to events and priority booking and discount for selected events.
Other benefits include 20% discount in British Library restaurants and cafés, 20% discount in its Shops, and a free book from its best-selling British Library Crime Classic range.
As a special offer for staff of Knowledge Quarter partner organisations, you can become a Member by 31 December 2016 and get three extra months free.
Find out more at www.bl.uk/membership
By Frances Taylor, senior marketing manager at the British Library
Credit for website photo @ Tony Antoniou