Visit to the British Library

On May 26th we visited the British Library (  that holds the second largest collection in the world. The BL is one of the six copyright libraries in the UK, but unlike the others it must hold a copy of everything published in the country. Housing 150 million items and acquiring each year 3 million new ones poses serious problems in terms of storage and accessibility.

In the early 1970's it was agreed that the BL's constituent libraries, of which the British Museum library was the biggest, should be housed together in a new building near St Pancreas station. Unfortunately, the construction of this edifice was fraught with difficulties. It took over twenty years to complete and the cost spiraled out of control. The main problem laid in digging four underground floors to store the collection. Nevertheless, the new British Library was finally inaugurated in 1998. It provides readers with an airy and bright public space, eleven reading rooms, an exhibition hall, numerous lecture and seminar rooms, as well as a restaurant.
In the centre of the building an imposing glass structure houses King George III library,which according to his wishes, is kept together and available to the public.

Lately, the BL has relaxed its membership policy; in fact, it is no longer surprisingly difficult to consult its holdings. Now anyone with a good reason to use the collection can do so.
The material is retrieved from the underground storage and is delivered to the reading rooms thanks to an enormous conveyor belt system.

Finally, the library employs over 1000 people in many different sectors and seems a very exciting place to work in.

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