Friday, 16 July 2010

People's Library, Kew Palace

Rear of palace...

Impressive collection of letters and documents to and from King George III

This is a short video (working on uploading!) to show the People's Library at Kew Palace, family home of King George III, Queen Charlotte and some of their 15 children! Dating from 1631, this site is truly impressive, not to mention pretty eerie. I think it's haunted! The library itself is very small, and not as much of a library as one would think of a current library.  What is so interesting is that the current famous collection at the British Library began in this palace.  The most prized books, however, are currently located at the Hampton Court Palace about 4 miles away.  Hope on the tube to the Hampton Court Station to visit this site (which I plan on doing, so stayed tuned!).  There are two display cabinets in the King's Private Drawing Room with the oldest book being the Historie by Guicciardin dating from 1579.

There are two interactive computers (one was out of order) and laminated placemat maps, as well as various books on the desks. There is a small collection of books in the library but only a few had dewey classification numbers on them. The remaining just had stickers indicating they were part of the People's Library. All of the books pertained to King George III, the Kew Palace and local history.  This library would be ideal for a class trip to teach children about the history of libraries and basic conservation.  It is very interesting to explore the Palace and then upstairs find this small library. 

I took a few photos of the "Hands On" boxes, and they were interesting to explore.  There was one I did not explore, it was geared towards attacking bugs. I learned some conservation tips that I was not aware of before...such as how to preserve items at home, how to handle old books and clean them. Most important: do not open a book if it is at all dusty. Gently clean it with a brush or if it is really dusty- a vacuum. Do not pull the book off the shelves from the top of the spine (like I always do, and I'm sure you do too).  Instead, gently push back the books on either side then firmly grasp the side of the book you want.  This will minimize wear and tear on the binding. 

Some conservation tools...
Four times a  year, conservators shine a torch light into the bookshelves to inspect the items and search for bugs or any other issues.  If anything is infested it is wrapped in polyethylene and frozen.  I never would have thought of freezing books, but this was also discussed at the British Library in terms of a solution for wet books. 

To join as a patron visit the Historic Royal Palaces' Web Site at

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