The British Library

Thursday July 16th - Today was amazing! We visited the British Library and I have officially found my happy place. We began our day with a tour of the library. We were guided around by a lovely gentleman named Stephen Sandford who provided us with an incredible amount of valuable information regarding the library. After our tour we were able to spend some time exploring the library and we then ended our day with a walk around the Conservation Center.

A few interesting facts we picked up:

  • The library has four basements to house all of its books
  • The basements are each so wide and so deep that they had to be constructed around the Tube.
  • It took £500 million to create the British Library
  • The library has a diverse collection of over 150 million books
  • A vast majority of books are stored in the basement and readers must make a request when they desire a book.
  • The British Library is not a lending library, therefore books may not be taken outside of its doors.

Of the many wonderful things I saw in the British Library, my two favorites would have to be the tower in the center of the library (see photo above) and the Treasures Gallery. The tower holds the collection of King George III (1738-1820), the entire collection can be see by the public as the walls are made of glass. If one were to be a member of the British Library (as I now am!), he or she could even request to look at a book from the King’s collection.

My other favorite part of the British Library was the literature display in the Treasures Gallery (more formally known as the Sir John Ritblat Gallery). I was able to view manuscripts, journals, and first editions of Thomas Hardy, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Joseph Conrad, just to name a few. I was in paradise! I will certainly be making another trip (or several) back to the British Library.

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