Frequently asked questions about our new repository

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The KB is set to build an innovative, new book repository in which the National Library will store the Netherlands’ printed and written heritage safely and sustainably for the long term.  Read the frequently asked questions about the new repository.

Why does the KB need a new building?

A study carried out in 2016 revealed that as our building was out-of-date and in need of renovation, a new building would be the best and most economical solution. In addition, we need a new repository for our ever-growing national library collection

What will the new building cost?

The contract for the new building will be put to tender. The cost involved will be disclosed when the tendering process begins.

Where is the KB moving to?

Our collection will be moved into an automated book repository in the Harnaschpolder district of the municipality of Delft. Due to the historical ties with the city, the public library building will remain in The Hague, but the exact location is as yet unknown.

When will the new buildings be ready?

If everything goes according to plan, the new repository should be fully operational by 2028. The new main library building will be completed around 2030

Why does the public building need to be separated from the repository?

A repository with special features is being built in order to preserve our collection securely and sustainably for future generations. A building with special requirements like this one cannot be developed in the centre of The Hague. Therefore the decision was made to separate the two buildings.

Why is it important to store our National Library collection securely?

We store some 120 km of printed heritage. This means literally millions of books, newspapers and magazines. The KB repository stores one copy of everything that has ever been written in or about the Netherlands. The collection is an essential part of our collective memory of Dutch history and culture, which is why we need to take such good care of it.

Will the collection be safe in the future repository?

The greatest risks facing the collection at the moment are fire and flooding. These risks are practically ruled out in the new repository: the low level of oxygen in the air makes fire impossible, and because the climate will be regulated passively, there will be no water-bearing climate system that can cause water damage. In addition, the repository will be built on an artificial two-metre-high mound to protect the collection from flooding.

What does a ‘fully automated’ repository mean?

The shelves in the new repository will be higher than at present, so that more books can be stored. Robots will move between the shelves, picking up and returning books that have been requested. This method has been tried and tested in other foreign libraries. For example, ten years ago, the British Library moved 200 km of books to a robot repository, and in 2016, Switzerland opened a fully automated library (the Speicherbibliothek) in Büron.

Will it still be possible for people to enter (or work) in the new repository?

In principle, nobody will work in the storage section of the new automated book repository, but people will obviously be able to go in if there are faults or failures in the robot system. There will also be an office attached to the repository, where the oxygen level will be normal and people can work in a safe and healthy environment.

Does this automated repository mean that colleagues will be fired?

No, nobody will be fired. The work practice of certain colleagues will alter after the new repository becomes operational. We will roll out the new working methods for the staff concerned over the next few years.

Doesn’t transporting the requested books between the repository and the main library building constitute another risk?

We will take measures to minimise the impact of vibration or bumping during transport. Fragile material will be carefully packaged, for example. The heritage sector has already accumulated a wealth of knowledge about this, and collections are transported safely every day. Of course another important aspect is that security must be in place. Measures will also be taken in this respect.

How will the new repository affect KB visitors?

The separation of the public building and the repository will not affect the KB’s visitors. They will still have to request material from the collection in advance, and view it in the public library building, as they do now.

Is this the first time that our National Library collection has been moved?

No. In fact this is the third time that the collection will move to a new location. In 1798, the National Library was housed in several rooms of the former stadtholder’s wing of the Binnenhof. In 1807, the collection was moved to the Mauritshuis, and in 1821, the KB moved to Lange Voorhout, where it remained for over 150 years. The last move was in 1982, when the KB relocated from Lange Voorhout to the current premises on Prins Willem Alexanderhof.