British Library Chair

Body: British Library
Appointing Department: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Sector: Culture, Media & Sport
Location: Most of the Chair’s work will be based at the Library’s building in St Pancras, but the successful candidate will be expected to undertake some travel in connection with the role, for which reasonable expenses will be paid. At least one Board meeting each year will be held in Boston Spa.
Skills required: Communication / Media / Marketing, IT / Digital
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £35,180 per annum
Time Requirements: The role is for two days per week.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

The Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP has appointed Dame Carol Black as Chair of the British Library for a term of 4 years commencing on 1 September 2018.

Date: 25/06/2018

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    19/03/2018 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The British Library Board is a body corporate, ultimately responsible for everything that the Library does. In order for the British Library Board to discharge its responsibilities appropriately and effectively, day-to- day and operational management is delegated to the Chief Executive.


The Chair of the British Library Board is responsible for leading the Board in ensuring that the Library:

  • effectively fulfils its statutory objectives, general functions and duties and
  • appropriately exercises its legal powers
  • is governed effectively, and is accountable to its stakeholders
  • delivers its services within its funding agreement;
  • setting the Library’s culture, strategic priorities and direction;
  • developing and maintaining strong relationships, communicating the Library’s purposes and interests to stakeholders including the public, the Government, potential donors and benefactors, and Library staff;
  • supporting the Library in securing the resources it needs to discharge its functions and duties effectively and efficiently;
  • supporting and managing the Chief Executive, including agreeing objectives and undertaking an annual appraisal; and
  •  ensuring that the Board and its members observe the highest standards of propriety and operate in accordance with the Library’s governance framework and the Nolan principles of standards in public life

Person Specification

The successful candidate must be able to demonstrate the following essential criteria.

  • The skills to lead a Board and chair meetings effectively, with the ability to lead a complex organisation.
  • An effective ambassador of the organisation, able to influence high level stakeholders within Government, Higher Education and the business world, and to drive positive engagement with potential donors and benefactors of the Library.
  • A good strategic appreciation of how digital technologies will shape the Library’s activities and services in future, both within the next few years and also in the longer term, plus a real sense of how to lead the Board in responding to digital challenges and opportunities.
  • Enthusiasm, energy and a commitment to ensuring successful delivery of the Library’s statutory objectives and its vision and purposes as set out in Living Knowledge.
  • Personal integrity and resilience, demonstrable independence and other attitudes consistent with the expectations of senior public office in a high-profile role.
  • The ability to apply strategic insight and constructive challenge to the Executive’s plans across wide-ranging strategy, delivery and organisational issues, and to support and advise the Chief Executive as needed.

We welcome candidates from diverse backgrounds who can apply their experiences to this demanding role.

Additional Information

This is a rare opportunity for an exceptional individual to lead the Board of one of the world’s great libraries, at a critical and exciting moment in its history.


In 2023, the British Library will mark its 50th anniversary as the national library of the United Kingdom, and in Living Knowledge (published in 2015) the Library has set out an ambitious vision for growth, innovation and development as that landmark date approaches. Major developments under way include projects to digitise and make globally available its most important historic collections; to refresh and transform its service to researchers, online and on-site; to widen its reach and presence for people across the UK, including new partnerships with public libraries; to extend and enhance its Grade 1-listed building in St Pancras, London, as part of a major development partnership; and – over the longer term – to renew and improve its 43-acre campus at Boston Spa in Yorkshire, where the majority of the collection is now held.


Underpinning the vision of Living Knowledge are statements of purpose which guide the Library’s activities and define its enduring responsibilities in six key areas: custodianship, research, business, culture, learning and international partnership.


Founded in 1973 by an Act of Parliament, the British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s leading research libraries. Its unrivalled collection comprises well in excess of 150 million items, some dating back 3000 years, and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, stamps, sound recordings and archived websites.


An exempt charity under the Charities Act and an executive non-departmental public body, the Library employs approximately 1560 staff based across its two main sites in London and Yorkshire, with an additional office in Stockton on Tees where the Public Lending Right is currently based. Its income resources in 2016/17 were £118 million, of which £94 million was Grant in Aid.


In succession to Baroness Blackstone, who will step down in August 2018 after eight years of service, the Chair will lead the Board in providing direction, guidance, governance and oversight for the Executive team, led by Chief Executive Roly Keating, as they work to deliver the Living Knowledge vision. The Chair is the Library’s most senior public voice, with an important role as ambassador, fundraiser and advocate for the Library’s mission, purposes and values.


The Chair will be appointed by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as are all members of the British Library Board with the exception of one member appointed by HM The Queen. This is a public appointment and will be conducted in compliance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments and under the principles of merit, fairness and openness.

How to Apply

Applicants are invited to submit:

  • A CV providing details of your education and qualifications, employment history, directorships, membership of professional bodies and details of any publications or awards;
  • A covering letter setting out how you meet the criteria set out in this specification;
  • Diversity monitoring form; and
  • Declaration of conflict of interest form.

Completed applications should preferably be emailed to:

Please put ‘British Library’ in the subject line.

Or, if this is not possible, post a hard copy to Priya Mistry Public Appointments Team, DCMS, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ.

In case of difficulty, please contact Priya Mistry in the DCMS Public Appointments Unit on 020 7211 6402.

The Diversity Form will be kept separate from your application and Conflicts of Interest Form, and will not be seen by the selection panel in order to meet the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments.

OCPA Monitoring form
Return to Search