The best ship is librarianship!

Courtyard of the British Library located near St. Pancreas station.

Upon entering the British Library you are instantly transported into another realm – a blend of museum, historical artifacts, community space and library materials.

In my experience of working in both academic and public libraries there is always the black cloud of budget hovering over every subject librarians head. How does one use their given budget in the most efficient way possible? Well, they could receive every copy of any book published. This is how the British Library grows their collection daily (over 3 million new items each year), as they are gifted a copy of items published in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This massive collection is used by other 16,000 patrons each day (in-person and online).  I wonder what would happen if this system were adopted by library systems in the United States? Also, are additionally copies purchased for high use items?

For more facts on the British Library visit this page.


George III Collection: the King’s Library

Feast your eyes upon the magnificent personal library of King George III, which sits on the shelves in it’s original intended classification system. While the books never see the light of day they are able to be utilized for research purposes. In fact the climate controlled shelving moves in an intricate way to provide access to materials.

Later during the trip, when visiting Kew Gardens, we were able to see where the library collection was originally housed before it was moved to Buckingham House.

For a delightfully detailed description of the library check out this page.

A 13 metre-long embroidery by British artist Cornelia Parker depicts the Wikipedia page for the Magna Carta. This in celebration of the 800th year since the documents signing. As someone who loves needlework this was an amazing thing to see.

The embroidery vision of Cornelia Parker is truly a project of love and dedication was hand stitched by over 200 carefully selected individuals. Many of whom possess a conntection to civil liberties and the law, including almost 40 prisoners. The artwork depicts the Magna Carta Wikipedia page as it appeared last year on the document’s 799th birthday and the level of details is just incredible.

This is an excellent example of how art, community and history can collate to create a legacy, while also informing others. Libraries should be able to facilitate these instillations more often, especially if they are able to highlight special parts of the collection.

The rest of the story about the embroidery is available here!

Model of the library and it’s intended visual charms.

Most of the materials are held below the public access floors. The building took over 35 years to finish, which makes me feel like greatness is always a work in progress.

Fish eye lens look at the library of King George III.
Beautiful and industrious reading room. I love to see how well used these spaces are by patrons.
Our fearless tour guide Andy MacDonald remembered for his great stories, in-depth knowledge of the British Library and love for American football.

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