Monday, 5 July 2010

British Library tour

While not much has changed in terms of the tour of this National depository library, it is a place that will never get old.  The collection began at the British Museum in 1753 and officially opened at the current location in 1998.  Design began in 1962! It is the biggest public building in the United Kingdom and the busiest research library.  This year we had a glimpse at the delivery room where a one mile long system carries books and delivers them to the appropriate reading room. 

I learned some new facts about the library from our tour guide, Chrissy-who was very knowledgable.  I found it funny that the balcony that overlooks the King George the 3rd's Library is known as Scholar's Leap.  It offers the best view of the library and showcases how massive the stacks of the King's Library are, from floor to ceiling.  It was interesting to learn that if books get wet from the sprinklers (which is better than burned) they will blast freeze them to dry them out.  She said she pictures Tesco's emptying out their frozen peas to make room for the rare manuscripts, like the 10th century manuscript of Beowulf! Something that was pretty incredible to see is the world's largest atlas.  Last year it was closed behind glass, but now it is open on display as part of an exhibit, Magnificent Maps.  I was wondering how mangificent they can truly be, let me tell you- it was incredible.  I've never seen such varying types, sizes and representations.  There were huge map tapestries from 1590...wooden pocket globes from the 1670s,  medieval maps from 1390 that convey their version of the history of civilization, progaganda map posters, and more.  Magnificent, to say the least.

This lovely area allows readers to relax in the garden and get some fresh air. Not that we don't all love the smell of old books :)  

Visit their incredible site at

Be sure to check out their page for Treasures in full.  Flip through the virtual pages of history.

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