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What the Endangered Archives Programme does

Once a year for the past decade an eminent panel of nine experts – librarians, archivists and academics – has met at the British Library to consider applications from individuals wishing to preserve vulnerable archival collections worldwide.

The panel awards two types of grants. Pilot grants support initial exploration to locate and assess the state of endangered collections. These projects may serve as preparation for major grants which support the digitisation of collections. The digital images recorded by the EAP projects are deposited with local institutions and the British Library, which makes them available online. To qualify for a grant the material must be potentially significant for scholarship, endangered and from a pre-modern period. Importantly, the panel only awards grants where the resulting materials can be made open to access on the library’s website.

So far the Programme has awarded 244 grants worldwide totalling £6m, giving between £500k and £900k each year. It has supported 91 pilot projects and 153 major projects. It has digitised collections endangered by environmental factors, neglect, obsolescence of materials or the vulnerability of the minority groups to whom the materials belong. Among the collections documented are records from the low-lying island of Tuvalu, under threat from rising sea waters, and murals on crumbling temples in India. The programme has digitised photographs taken by Buddhist monks in Luang Prabang, images that provide a unique view of monastic life and that had been forgotten for decades in storage. It has supported digitisation of traditional music and stories recorded on magnetic tapes and phonograph records from the mountains of Azerbaijan. It has also helped to digitise Hakku Patras, historic certificates of rights granted to families from dependant castes, which allowed them to practice their trade in the villages of Andhra Pradesh in India. Across the programme, the digitally preserved materials range from rock inscriptions to sound recordings, spanning the first millennium BC to the twentieth century, from Chile to Siberia.

Endangered Archives Programme staff


Adam Farquhar – Acting Director*

Graham Shaw

Susan Whitfield

Aly Conteh


Cathy Collins*

Jody Butterworth*

Paul Young*

Robert Miles*

Isobel Clouter*

Lynda Barraclough

Alex Hailey

Toni Hardy

International Advisory Panel


Anthea Case*

Barry Supple


Simon Franklin*

Nada Itani*

Ann Kumar*

Nathan Mnjama*

Linda Newson*

Sanjay Subrahmanyam*

Marion Wallace* (BL Curator for African Studies)

Jeevan Deol

Aziz Abid

Lorraine Gesick

Gabriela Ramos

Lenka Matušiková

Ann Thurston

Branka Prpa

Paul Lihoma

* Current