The National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Wednesday July 22nd – Today we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum to tour the National Art Library (which is actually an international library). A majority of the treasures that the library has do relate to art as the library an art library. They have both a general collection as well as a special collection and they do focus on understanding the art of the book as well as book design throughout the ages.

We were given the opportunity to look at a few of the many treasures that the library has, including a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, a Charles Dickens manuscript and an actual letter written by Charles I. It was an amazing assortment and we were dazzled by the display.

Once we peeled ourselves away from the treasures we were taken on a tour of the National Art Library we saw both reading rooms up close and were able to take a look behind the scenes. The National Art Library, like many others we’ve seen is not a lending library, which means readers cannot take a book away, and instead they must sit a table and read through the materials they request. It takes a bit of time to retrieve a book and it is recommended that readers make their requests ahead of time either via phone or email so they don’t have to wait upon arriving. Also, the library does not order more than one copy of any book and pre-requesting a book saves readers from being disappointed if their desired book is unavailable (although we were told that happens rarely). Another very interesting day!

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