The British Library Reviews in United Kingdom | Glassdoor

The British Library UK Reviews

Updated October 12, 2017
11 reviews

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United Kingdom

2.8
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The British Library CEO Roley Keating
Roley Keating
4 Ratings

11 Employee Reviews

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  1. "A privilige to work there but stay away from office politics"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Reference Specialist in London, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Reference Specialist in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at The British Library full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    It's a great experience working with a unique collection and some great minds.
    If you have a good relationship with your manager you'll get access to great training and potential for advancement.

    Cons

    Like other none profit/civil service jobs where the 'bottom line' isn't the motivating factor office politics and bullying is unavoidable.
    There are great opportunities but you are at the mercy of your managers. Make sure you cultivate a good relationship, otherwise your achievements will go unacknowledged.

    As of 2013 many employees are now on fixed-term contracts.

    Advice to Management

    Motivate and acknowledge your employees' contributions and work with the unions to combat bullying culture.
    Retain talented staff by clearly informing them of training opportunities.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "The worst workplace experience ever"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at The British Library full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Some good, decent and experienced people trying to do their best but drowning in a ditch of overall managerial awfulness

    Cons

    Sexist; bunkered thinking; dysfunctional approach to communications and management.

  3. "Great professionals, lack of career progression"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Developer in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Software Developer in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at The British Library (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Amazing people, strong and cohesive environment, great professionals

    Cons

    Cuts and lack of career progression


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Great place to work, despite the politics"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at The British Library full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Endlessly fascinating workplace, with new projects happening all the time and plenty of variety. My own experience was also improved by having a really good boss, so I felt trusted and supported the whole time. Also, the pay and benefits are pretty good, at least by the standards of the culture sector.

    Cons

    The office politics can be tricky. There are some 'us vs them'-type divides between low- and high-grade employees, unions and management, and also between the northern and southern offices. Management does try pretty hard to fix these issues and involve everyone, but hasn't succeeded so far. Also, the workplace culture - like staff development, career progression and succession planning - isn't consistent across the organisation, so whether you have a great work environment or an unhappy one can be a bit of a lottery.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR - GO ELSEWHERE"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Librarian in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Librarian in London, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at The British Library (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Steady work with no immediate prospect of redundancy.

    Cons

    Where do I begin? My manager spends FOUR HOURS a day in his office playing with the internet; he does not therefore have any idea what's going on, the running being left to the supervisors. Supervisors are promoted to their rank on the basis of years served NOT talent (dead man's shoes). The supervisors are tetchy with those below them because they've never been trained in how to deal with subordinates, and this creates an atmosphere of blame throwing and alliance building; I've seen colleagues in tears because the supervisor won't talk to them due to personal dislike. A job which ought to be easy is made hard therefore by the office politics. There is NO induction process for new staff, you're just thrown in the deep end. This results (of course) in errors which are punished rather than corrected. Senior management have no idea what's going on. I had a conversation with a senior manager about 'productivity' and she'd never heard the word before! Got out as quickly as I could.

    Advice to Management

    This is far too labour intensive and needs to become capital intensive instead by mechanisation of the basement process.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Young, fun and ambitious? Don't work here!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at The British Library full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The main entrance is beautiful, the collection items are truly incredible and the benefits (pension, season ticket loan, flexible working, holiday) are not bad. Good work/life balance.

    Cons

    Clandestine misogyny, hierarchy-obsessed, flat structures so very little chance of promotion, no social culture, lacking in diversity in all forms (ethnicity, age, socio-economic background, gender, LGBT+) and the cultural homogeny worsens the more senior you look.

    Senior roles have been known to go to mediocre middle-aged white men who just so happen to hang out in the pub with those in charge. So many mediocre and wet people in key strategic positions. The organisation aims to be innovative but how can it do this when it take a minimum of four, hour-long meetings just to make one simple decision. Doing simple things is a struggle because this place has such a fetish for process and bureaucracy.

    There are policies for everything, from personal development to diversity, but these don't work in practice. The organisation spends more time writing these policies and getting them signed off than actually sorting serious issues rooted in the core.

    Young people come in with ideas and enthusiasm but face 'computer says no' culture everywhere, so leave. Leaving behind the same boring spineless personality type. Yes, the organisation is full of people who have worked here for many decades but I honestly think this is because they know they would get fired elsewhere for being as incompetent as they are.

    All in all, one massive


  7. "Senior Imaging Technician"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Image Technician in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Senior Image Technician in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at The British Library full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great place to work, lovely team and a very supportive management. Very interesting building to work in, good hours and holiday entitlement.

    Cons

    Sometimes things get tied up in bureaucracy but such is the nature of working for a large non-departmental public body .

  8. "Frustrating and with an out of touch Management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston Spa, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston Spa, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at The British Library (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Excellent flexi-time
    On-site canteen is great and very cheap.
    Easy to get to, if you have a car.
    Interesting work
    Training opportunities
    Final salary pension - but for how long?

    Cons

    Out of touch senior management.
    Some completely clueless middle managers who only want to make sure they did not get the blame.
    Low salary in comparison to the private sector.
    Pay bands mean it is is impossible to pay senior staff more than junior staff members.
    No chance of promotion or pay rises (government pay cap)
    Very high attrition rate of many long term staff, who are not being replaced. Existing team members were just expected to cover their workload.

    With an increasing workload, performing many different roles, some way outside my job description, no career prospects or even a pay rise, the writing was on the wall. Add the sheer frustration of not being able to change some of the ridiculous working practices and processes and you have the most frustrating place I have ever worked.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your long term staff and promote from within.
    Stop wasting money on contractors and ridiculous proof of concepts.
    Their is no easy 'off the shelf ' solution that will fix all your problems, the BL has a special job to do and it needs specialist software and specialist knowledge and experience to deliver sustainable solutions.


  9. "Overall a great place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at The British Library full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Great mission.
    Nice location.
    Excellent training for staff.

    Cons

    Risk averse.
    No clear career progression path.Could be stuck in one role for years.

    Advice to Management

    Do fewer things better.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Boston Spa: Good place, hampered by politics, budget cuts."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston Spa, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston Spa, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Lovely location out in the countryside,
    good hours,
    great work/life balance provided you have a decent manager.

    Cons

    Terrible politics - lots of folks building their empires, grievances against other people, unwillingness to change working practices leads to an atmosphere of disillusionment and apathy.

    The buildings are frankly below par. The main building smells really strange, and the corridors are freezing.

    Advice to Management

    Try and lose some of the 'for life' employees.


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