Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Two big visits today, the British Library and the London Library. They sound similar, but honestly have very different attributes. Let’s quickly compare…
The British Library is housed in a large edifice near King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. It was designed by Sir Colin St John Wilson to look like an ocean liner, and took 36 years to build.
The British Library just formally opened 1998 making it very young. It is the national library of the United Kingdom and a legal deposit library, meaning that the British Library can receive a copy of any book published in the UK or Ireland.
It contains 200 million items in its seven floors (three above ground, four underground), including King George III’s Library located in the middle for all to see.
Previously all collections, and the library itself, were part of the British Museum. It is a reference library, which means all materials must be looked at on site; no book is lent out to readers. Readers cannot roam the stacks, and must apply for a reader’s pass. Anyone can register, but must have a reason for using the collections.
The London Library, on the other hand, is a bit smaller in size and scope.
The London Library was founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle who was unhappy that he could not take home any of the books at the British Library (then the British Museum Library) to use. The London Library was his response, because it acts as a lending library. Members (one must pay to become a member) can check out the majority of the books located within the building. Some of the reference books must stay in the building, but I find this normal for most libraries. The collections number around 1 million volumes, with 8,000 titles added yearly. The stacks are open to roaming members!
The books on the shelves are arranged by subject according to its own classification scheme. All books are hardback on the shelves and none contain dust jackets.
Both had very different feels to them. There were positives and negatives to both setups. (Personally, I may have preferred the London Library more… it was more intimate.) More discussion on these libraries in another post!
Since we were in the neighborhood, some of us decided to visit Buckingham Palace.
The flowers even reminded me of the Queen of Heart’s roses! (I don’t mean that offensively, either.) They’re beautiful! Also… a literature reference.
I’m a book person and London is a marvellous place to reference literature.
I’ve got a bit of sniffles and have been medicating to try and stave them off. It was inevitable I think to get them after coming into contact with so many people while travelling and such. Oh well! The days go on…