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09-02-2010

BFI Archive

Controversial or not, the proposed Library of Birmingham will house some welcome new additions to the city’s cultural life. One such example will be an enthralling collection of historic film.

It was confirmed yesterday that the new Library of Birmingham will become the home for a new British Film Institute (BFI) Mediatheque.

First introduced in 2007, the BFI Mediatheque consists of several individual viewing stations, offering users the opportunity to view a vast selection of content taken from one of the world’s most significant film and television collections.

Effectively operating as a digital jukebox of rarely seen material and well-loved classics of film and TV, the Mediatheque offers an ever-expanding collection of more than 1,500 titles, over 85% of which are unavailable to view anywhere else.

Hours of classic films, ranging from documentaries and TV programmes to home movies will form part of the Mediatheque, which will provide free access to some unique footage of British social history when the Library, in Centenary Square, opens in 2013.

BFI have already announced plans to expand their resources across the country, and the new Birmingham venue will be one of their largest Mediatheques. The launch of the facility in Birmingham will coincide with the addition of much local content to the Mediatheque.

Joining forces with partners such as the Media Archive for Central England and Screen West Midlands, the BFI Mediatheque will provide an unparalleled record of the people and events that continue to shape the region.

Brian Gambles, Assistant Director for Culture and Head of Libraries at Birmingham City Council said: “The Library of Birmingham aims to embrace digital technology, and this resource provides library users with access to one of the world’s largest film archives. We look forward to enhancing it with a new collection chronicling Birmingham’s proud history and culture.”

Included in the BFI archives are the Mitchell & Kenyon collection, the largest display of early non-fiction film footage in existence. Mitchell & Kenyon were film-makers based in Blackburn at the beginning of the nineteenth century and the recently-found record of their pioneering efforts have been of great help in providing an insight into Edwardian life.

Some of their work, courtesy of the BFI National Film Archive, can be found here.

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