British Library Appoints New Chief Executive

Outgoing CEO Lynne Brindley, Photo:  BL ; Incoming CEO Roly Keating, Photo: BBC

Outgoing CEO Lynne Brindley, Photo: BL; Roly Keating, Photo: BBC

The Board of the British Library has appointed Roly Keating as the Library’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Keating, currently Director of Archive Content at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and a former Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, will take up his new role on September 12, 2012.

Baroness Tessa Blackstone, Chairman of the British Library, said, “Roly Keating has a strong record of creative leadership and strategic innovation at the BBC. He has  a deep commitment to the digital information environment. He is the ideal person to build on the successes of the British Library to ensure that the Library continues to be a leading-edge provider of knowledge as we take forward our Vision for 2020. I look forward to working with him.”

Mr. Keating said, “It’s a huge honor to have the opportunity to lead one of the UK’s greatest cultural institutions. Under Lynne Brindley’s leadership the British Library set standards for the world in the quality of its curatorship and the boldness of its thinking around the new technology. I am looking forward to working with the Library’s talented staff to take it on the next stage of its journey into the digital age.”

Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC, said, “During Roly’s 29 years at the BBC he has proved to be one of the corporation’s greatest cultural heavyweights. Roly has always had a keen understanding of the BBC ethos of making the good popular and the popular good. His most recent role as Director of Archive enabled him to start the vital work of opening up the BBC’s archive, making it accessible to audiences across the world. We are hugely grateful for everything he has done for the BBC and delighted that he will now be going on to run another of the UK’s most valuable cultural institutions.”

Roly Keating was born in 1961. He graduated from Balliol College, Oxford in 1983 with a first class degree in Classics, and joined the BBC as a general trainee that year.

As a producer and director in Music and Arts, Mr. Keating made films for Omnibus, Bookmark and Arena. He was a founding producer and subsequent editor of the long-running arts and media magazine, The Late Show, and was also editor of the literary series Bookmark.

In 1997, Roly became Head of Programming for UKTV, overseeing the launch of the BBC’s joint venture channels. Two years later he was made BBC Controller of Digital Channels, with overall editorial responsibility for BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge. The following year he became Controller of Arts Commissioning, with responsibility for music and arts programming across BBC Television, before moving to BBC Four in December 2001.

As Controller of BBC Four, Roly led the launch of the channel in March 2002. From 2004 to 2008, Roly was Controller of BBC Two. Under his tenure he oversaw the launch of a raft of influential series, as well as memorable programs like Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain. BBC Two was named Broadcast Channel of the Year in 2007.

As Director of Archive Content, Roly acted as editorial leader for the BBC’s online services.

Roly Keating will take over from Dame Lynne Brindley, who will be leaving the Library on July 31, 2012 after 12 years as Chief Executive.

ATBL First Fundraising Event

Honoring Chairman Lansing Lamont and Dame Lynne Brindley

Lansing Lamont and Dame Lynne Brindley

Lansing Lamont and Dame Lynne Brindley

ATBL’s first annual benefit luncheon, held at the Harvard Club last October, was an opportunity to honor two of our most distinguished figures: Lansing Lamont, who has served the ATBL since the 1990’s, becomming President in 2000, and chairman since 2010; and Dame Lynne Brindley, the long-time Chief Executive of the British Library who is retiring later this year.

Mr. Lamont’s leadership was a driving force behind ATBL’s increased membership, including major donors, which allowed ATBL to increase its grants to the BL substantially over the last ten years. During his tenure as President, the prestigious Breslauer Lectures were instituted. This lecture series was named after Bernard H. Breslauer, the renowned rare book dealer and collector of illuminated manuscripts.

Lansing Lamont and David Redden

Lansing Lamont and David Redden

David Redden, current ATBL President, began his introduction with a recording of Mr. Lamont playing the piano and singing. The honoree was truly surprised and the attendees gave him a hearty round of applause. Mr. Lamont’s gift for song is well known to participants in the annual Chairman’s Council trips to London, which he leads. Mr. Redden followed with a more formal introduction citing Mr. Lamont’s many interests and accomplishments.  Lansing Lamont, Harvard ’52, is an author and journalist who has been a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History; a Bryant Fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  In appreciation for his leadership and counsel, Mr. Lamont was presented with a hand- calligraphied certificate.

Mr. Lamont’s remarks drew on his experience as a boy and later as a journalist to illustrate the importance of books, more particularly books by British authors such as Dickens, Kipling, Tennyson, H.G. Wells, and the Huxleys. Mr. Lamont saw these books as the inspiration that urges us on to the wonderful adventures that form our lives. He spoke of the great libraries of the world, and paid homage to the British Library:

“But there is something extra special, in my view, about the British Library. It occupies not only an important place in the cultural life of the British nation, it occupies a singularly important place in the cultural life of the world, and in particular the U.S. which sends the largest foreign cohort of British Library users.”

In closing, Mr. Lamont quoted the writer Toni Morrison: “Access to knowledge is the supreme act of truly great civilizations.” He used this quote in a tribute to his co-honoree: “Lynne Brindley, you and your team at the British Library have been inspired leaders in realizing this truth. For that, we not only thank you—but I personally am deeply honored to be sharing this platform with you.”

Paul LeClerc, Dame Lynne Brindley and David Redde

Paul LeClerc, Dame Lynne Brindley and David Redde

Following that tribute,  Paul LeClerc, former Director of the New York Public Library, longtime friend and admirer of Dame Lynne, presented her with a hand calligraphied certificate acknowledging the importance of her dedicated service to the BL. Dame Lynne has headed the British Library since 2000, overseeing its move from the Reading Room to its own campus in St. Pancras. Her vision has spear- headed the digitization of its collection; educational programs and outreach have been expanded under her leadership.  After twelve productive years, Dame Lynne is resigning to return to the private sector.  The ATBL wishes her Godspeed.

In her remarks, Dame Lynne chose to focus on the acquisition of the St Cuthbert Gospel by the BL. Describing the Gospel as a “ treasure that predates theViking raids on England; a precious example of the finest craftsmanship from the early middle ages; and a book of unparalleled significance to our shared understanding of our cultural history.” She highlighted the generous donations that are making the acquisition possible, including sizable ATBL and Breslauer Bequest grants that have allowed the BL to take advantage of this “once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

In keeping with the BL’s mission to provide public access to these national treasures, Dame Lynne outlined the steps that will be taken to conserve, display and provide online access to scholars and the general public so they will be able study this important manuscript in depth.

The ATBL Board voted to send the net proceeds of the event to the BL to help them meet their goal of £9m ($14.1m) for the acquisition of the St. Cuthbert’s Gospel.  Information regarding the ATBL grant for the acquisition and Dame Lynne Brindley’s resignation can be found in the following pages of this newsletter.

Photos by See more images from this event at