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New BFI film heritage streaming service launched in Suffolk’s libraries

Suffolk Libraries, the charity that runs the library service in Suffolk, recently launched a new film heritage streaming service at Ipswich County Library with the British Film Institute.

Suffolk Libraries was chosen from a handful of library services to pilot the new BFI Replay service, which will be launched nationally in the spring.

BFI Replay is a free streaming service for public libraries with thousands of digitised videos and television programmes from the collections of the BFI National Archive and UK regions and nations film archives, alongside contributions from other significant archives such as the BBC and ITV.

Videos from the 1960s to the 2010s, lovingly collected and cared for by archivists over half a century but now at great threat of technology obsolescence, record and reveal an era of rapid social, industrial, political and technological change.

Anyone who signs into a computer in any Suffolk library using their library card can access this new streaming service for free. BFI Replay is exclusively accessible on library PCs so you have to be in a library to use it.

Representatives from BFI Replay visiting Ipswich County Library to promote the new service.
Representatives from BFI Replay visiting Ipswich County Library to promote the new service.
A customer explores the BFI Replay website on a library PC.

Emma Smart, Chief Librarian at BFI, said:

“BFI Replay is so important as it provides democratic access to the nation’s archive moving image heritage via our incredible public libraries! The platform is a living digital archive that will continue to grow and evolve, driving new audiences to screen heritage and local libraries around the country.  

“It has been delightful working with Suffolk Libraries who have been an invaluable member of our Replay Libraries Network. The team have been with us since the very start of the project and we can’t thank them enough for all their input. Launching BFI Replay at Ipswich County Library was brilliant, it allowed us meet the library staff and demonstrate the platform to their teams and library customers. Everyone was so receptive and excited about BFI Replay it really felt like a moment!

“We are still in the beta phase of the project and very much looking for feedback on the platform before our national launch in early 2023.”

Kellie Dimmock, Information for Living Librarian at Suffolk Libraries, said:

“Our partnership with the BFI has created a brilliant environment for culture and arts to be fostered between us and the BFI Replay heritage player will be such an asset and invaluable research tool to all our customers - especially those interested in nostalgia, film, advertising, and social history from the last 60 years.”

“We want to encourage everyone to come into their local library to enjoy accessing this incredible new resource for free and experience this for themselves, as all feedback will be welcomed especially over the coming months before the national launch next year.”

BFI Replay is the latest service to join our collection of free research websites. Others include Ancestry, Find My Past, the British Newspaper Archive, and most recently the 1921 Census.

Suffolk Libraries customers can also access online encyclopedias from any library computer across the county. We also have resources for academic research and children’s homework available for free.