“You have definitely reinforced my goal of becoming a curator, but also of maybe exploring other options like cataloguing. I am also now aware of the full extent of the British Library's role and I will hopefully visit it in the future,” 

“I loved learning more about the possible careers that are available within The British Library, and that there are different routes you can take when entering this sector. I also really enjoyed the assignment where we had to create our own exhibition in detail and how we would advertise it to the public.”

British Library
Work Experience
backgroundthe problemour solutionaudienceoutput

The British Library is home to more than 170 million items, and only 13.5 million of these are books; the rest range from manuscripts and sound recordings to photographs, maps and drawings. Over three quarters of these are held at its Boston Spa campus in Yorkshire, and includes the prominent King’s Library Tower in Central London. According to its “Living Knowledge” vision it focuses on “making our intellectual heritage accessible to everyone, for research, inspiration and enjoyment”.

A wall of books stacked on library shelves
The problem

The British Library briefed Springpod to grow brand awareness of the British Library itself, by showcasing the traditional roles associated with the library, including the curation of collections.

They were also keen to boost knowledge of the industry and job roles within it by demonstrating modern career paths such as marketing, customer service and the skills necessary for employment in the modern workplace. There was to be a focus on interactivity, with engaging, hands-on modules and live webinars.

Crucially, they were keen to engage a diverse cohort of students by ethnicity and gender, from right across the UK.

Enhance industry knowledge and brand awareness of British Library among students.
Highlight the array of roles available.
Reach a wider cohort, including those who live well outside its two main locations in London and Boston Spa, Yorkshire.
Male teenage student concentrating on laptop screen
Our solution

Our goal was to use our platform to showcase the diversity of the British Library, both in its collections and curations, but also the roles available for employment. From speaking to key contacts at the Library, it became clear that there can be a disconnect between perception and reality, with much of the population only aware of a fraction of their work.

The first module, therefore, had to provide context and showcase what working at the British Library could mean. To ensure a high completion rate and engaged students, this module included a fun ‘myth-busting’ section - students learning that you don’t have to be quiet, and a collection can be much more than just books.

Subsequent modules looked at specific roles, starting with the traditional, such as librarianship and curation, through to marketing and customer service. That latter module included a wonderful activity where students tried to respond to scenarios of complaining customers.

This module led into employability skills, designed to help students with future choices regardless of where they ultimately chose to work.

A highlight for many was getting to design a curation and then work out a marketing strategy to encourage interest.

no. of students
age range
% free school meals
% minority ethnic students
% female students

The programme was followed by students ranging from 14 through to some in their 20s, the vast majority of whom were female and there was a genuine split of ethnicities, while nearly a third qualified for free school meals. Of 638 enrolments, 182 were local to the British Library London site and 71 to the Boston Spa site, 385 were local to neither.

Gender: Male14%, female81%, prefer not to say 5%

  • Ethnicity: minority ethnic 47%, white 48%, other or prefer not to say 5%
  • 29% of the cohort were on free school meals.

Brand awareness and knowledge of roles within the British library were key goals, and the results for these were stunning, with 99% of those surveyed saying they had at least a good knowledge of careers, this was just 31% pre-programme. 

Overall confidence in finding employment was up from 51% who said they had some confidence to 81%.

There was also a near 50% increase in those saying they were very likely to consider a career in the industry.

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