St. Paul’s Cathedral library is located within the beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral itself is beautiful and the library was everything I wanted it to be by its beauty and charm. Wren designed a building of great beauty and a wooden model is on display for visitors to tour. Some changes were made in between Wren’s design and the way St. Paul’s currently looks.
The items in this library contain religious texts, such as Bibles and works related to theology within the church. Most of the books in this collection were printed before industrialization so the fact that they are handcrafted will mean that they will last longer. Larger books are stored towards the bottom as smaller books are stored above so as to not damage the smaller books between the larger ones. Our guide demonstrated the proper way to retrieve a book; one should gently slide the two books on either side of the one you want, then firmly grab the one you need while also taking care not to be too rough. They also suggest that you never carry more books than you can hold between your fingers and thumbs if the book is an early print.
Our guide stated that we, as librarians, should always consider the envelope of a collection and space so to be able to maintain a repository’s longevity as long as it is needed. This is a paraphrase of course but I feel like it will stick with me. No one wants to have their workplace become unneeded so the ones who will be using a space should always be in consideration.
During World War II, the library materials were transferred to caves in Wales to protect them. St. Paul’s suffered direct hits during the war so it was of great importance that these materials were transported before any damage could occur.
It is neat that a library within a cathedral with such history is tied to the present day with a much updated Twitter account. Here they share updates of the collections as well as ways that the public can be more involved with learning the history of this library.
Photo provided by St. Paul’s Cathedral – https://www.stpauls.co.uk/SM4/Mutable/Uploads/generic_image/The%20stunning%2018th%20century%20library%20chamber.jpg