LIS British Studies – British Library

The British Library in London was very interesting. It was founded in 1753 as part of the British Museum. The library separated from the museum in 1972. The British Library is often compared with the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The four founders of the library include Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Joseph Banks, Thomas Granvil, and Sir Hans Sloane.

The stacks measure eight stories below the ground. This library holds the largest collection of stamps. Our guide mentioned that there would not be a way to view them all in one visit. The building was built to resemble a ship, including round windows that look like portholes on large boats.  Only one phase was completed but more were planned. Money was a big issue in why more expansion was not possible.

The British Library sorts books by size, not by alphabet or collection. This makes sense because the system is automated and holding by size make the automation know where to put the items easier. They have a room with machines that read the bar code on a book and is sent to its respective section within the library.  There is an off-site collections building that is fully automated.

There is a portion of the library that holds King George’s personal collection of over 85,000 works. This is still sorted in the way he had it sorted when in his personal library collection. These shelves can be moved back when someone needs to retrieve something from the shelves. King George IV donated his father’s collection with two stipulations: 1. that all of them stay together; 2. the collection has to stay in the same cataloging system. These stipulations are still being kept in the present library.

The room of treasures was neat because it holds a copy of Shakespeare’s first folio, Beowolf, and Jane Austen’s writing desk, glasses, and a handwritten copy of Persuasion.



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