Thursday, 3 July 2014

British Library

     The class took the tube to King's Cross Station where we then went to the infamous platform 9 3/4 (from Harry Potter). We took a nice group picture in front of the platform sign. 

     After many of my fellow students spent too much money in the Platform 9 3/4 Gift Shop, we walked over to the British Library. We took another group photo outside the British Library with Issac Newton.
Here is a better picture of the monument itself. 

     Who knew when we entered these doors we were going to be entertained by one of the funniest librarians of the trip, Kevin Mehmet. Kevin has established a relationship with Dr. Welsh over the years and made sure to be available the day of our trip. He was ready with the American jokes including a funny letter "written to President Obama." It is always a plus to go on a tour with someone who has a great sense of humor (since this is a British Studies post, I should write humour).

     The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. The three core functions of the library are to collect published output, look after the collection, and make the collection available to the public.The British Library is actually quite a new entity; it was created in 1973. Before the British Library was created, the British Museum functioned as the National Library.The British Library's collection of book is well over 200 million with 8,000 new books published daily.
     During our tour, Kevin gave us a lot of information about how one uses the British Library. He explained how to obtain a readers card and how to request materials you need after you have the card.  Books are stored onsite below the ground floor and at another warehouse facility outside of town. When a patron requests a book, the maximum wait time is 48 hours. There are vans that drive materials back and forth from the British Library to the warehouse daily.
     We were able to see various areas of the British Library.The building itself was opened in 1997. Before King George III died he donated his library collection to the national library with the caveat that the collection must be able to be enjoyed by the people. His six-story collection now sits in the middle of British Library (pictures below).

     Another really cool area of the British Library is the Treasures Room. The Treasures Room has many items that are in their original state. The item I was most impressed with in the Treasures Room was the original Magna Carta which was signed in 1215 (whoa!). There were also many other cool items such as song lyrics, various works from famous authors, old maps, and first editions of many books.     
     This chained book sculpture is an ode to days of the past when chained libraries existed throughout the United Kingdom. I just really liked it, so I took the picture. 
The British Library website is a really well put together and easy to navigate!
You can access it here: British Library
Here are links to British Library social media sites:

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