This was an interesting visit because I really did not have a strong grasp on everything the British Library did. I suppose I did not realize that the British Library was responsible for so much. One could view the British Library as America's Library of Congress only slightly smaller from the way Kevin our tour guide described it. I learned many things from the tour. For example books from the 18th Century and up have proven to be a problem for preservation purposes because the paper was changed from linen to wood based. At the British Library I finally got to see a copy of the Magna Carta signed by King John in 1215, lyrics written by John Lennon and so much more. Overall a great visit!
- The newest building was constructed in 1997.
-The three goals of the British Library:
1.) Acquire every published item one month after it is published
2.) Look after it forever
3.) Make the items available to researchers.
-There are approximately 1700 people employed there.
- The concept of the British Library was envisioned and established by Sir Hans Sloane in 1753.
- In order to access the collection you must know exactly what you want.
- Not one book has ever been lost within their automated book retrieval machine.
- There is no set classification system utilized within the library. All books are shelved according to size.
-King George III donated his collection of 85,000 books and manuscripts with the stipulation that they always be available for public viewing. The King's Library is on constant display within a glass tower in the middle of the building. At least 35 items from this collection are accessed every day.
- All Reading Rooms are divided by humanities.
-They have pioneered the concept of touch screen technology with the assistance of Bill Gates. Thank you Bill Gates.
- The largest book in the British Library is an atlas from the 1660s. It is in a large display case. The only people allowed access to it are those who will be able to make a large contribution to the academic world because they have viewed it. The last instance of its viewing was in 2000.
-The Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library is a permanent exhibit at I must admit that the exhibit is appropriately titled. There are fantastic treasures to be seen within those walls. Some of the 200 incredibly unique items housed in the exhibit are:
· *The St. Cuthbert Gospel
· *-Both 1215 editions of the Magna Carta
· * Gutenberg Bible
· *Leonardo Da Vinci notebooks
· *Shakespeare’s First Folio
For futher information on the items on display http://www.bl.uk/whatson/permgall/treasures/index.html
A new, exciting purchase recently made by the British Library is the St. Cuthbert Gospel. This book represents the earliest intact European book possessing its own original binding. Cuthbert was one of Britain’s most popular saints. It is approximately 1,300 years old and one of the most expensive purchases made by the British Library. The purchase was made possible through generous donations.
To read more about it the St. Cuthbert Gospel http://www.bl.uk/whatson/st_cuthbert_gospel.pdf