60 Years of Television History In Libraries Across Northern Ireland Digitised and Available to the Public
Published 23 Nov 2023
Libraries NI is thrilled to share the exciting news that BFI Replay is available on library computers in all local branches across Northern Ireland. This fantastic resource offers free access to 60 years of screen history. Now, the people of Northern Ireland can explore this treasure trove of film and video in their local public libraries.
BFI Replay is a digital archive created as a result of one of the largest mass digitisation programs in the UK. Its purpose is to preserve video tape collections that are at risk of becoming obsolete due to technological advancements. Thanks to National Lottery funding and the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, over 100,000 items have been digitised, spanning 60 years of video history. Thousands of these newly digitised moving image stories are now exclusively available to view on BFI Replay.
One of the highlights of BFI Replay is its impressive collection of 600 local items, many of these items are sourced from the UTV archives, providing a unique glimpse into the history and culture of Northern Ireland. Visitors to the library can enjoy watching fascinating local clips, such as footage from the final day of the Empire Theatre in Belfast before its closure in 1961, the unexpected sporting craze of Rat Racing in Crumlin in 1969, or a documentary about the legendary George Best from 1969.
Photo Left to Right: Richard Williams (Chief Executive, NI Screen), Dr Jim O’Hagan (Chief Executive Libraries NI) Councillor Jennifer Gilmour (Ards and North Down Borough Council Mayor), Anne Hailes MBE, Professor Bernard Cullen, (Chairperson Libraries NI) and Katie Reddington (Outreach Librarian BFI) pictured during the launch of BFI Replay in Holywood Library.
Libraries NI Chief Executive Dr Jim O’Hagan said:
“At Libraries NI, we believe that libraries are not just places to borrow books, but also cultural destinations where people can connect with their heritage and immerse themselves in history on a daily basis. BFI Replay is an invaluable asset for our customers to enjoy, offering a wide range of interesting content, much of which our customers will be familiar with and fondly remember. We are delighted to be part of the national roll out and to provide this important resource to our community through the library network.”
Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen commented: “Libraries and archives serve as guardians of our cultural heritage and the gatekeepers of accessible knowledge. I welcome the official launch in Northern Ireland of BFI Replay, the culmination of a partnership between the BFI, Libraries NI and Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive. Through BFI Replay we are making a significant part of our screen heritage publicly accessible, giving local people the opportunity to access material that documents some of the most momentous events in our recent history from the comfort of their local library.”
Emma Smart, BFI Director of Collections, Learning and Engagement said:
“Working with library colleagues across the public library sector as part of our BFI Replay Library Network has been an immensely rewarding experience for us. These founding member libraries have been with us from the beginning, helping us to test ideas for the BFI Replay platform and informing our content decisions along the way, and I think the partnership has helped us a create a truly unique streaming service that visitors to libraries across the whole country are going to enjoy for years to come.”
To access this new in library resource, simply call into your local library, log on to one of the library computers, click here for the in-library resources on the Libraries NI website and start exploring the wonderful world of BFI Replay. Don’t forget to bring along a pair of headphones for the best experience.
For further information please visit your local library where a member of staff will be happy to assist you.