British Library

British Library

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The British Library is the national library
National library
A national library is a library specifically established by the government of a country to serve as the preeminent repository of information for that country. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books...

 of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats, both print and digital: books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, videos, play-scripts, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings. The Library's collections include around 14 million books (second only to the USA's Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

), along with substantial holdings of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 2000 BC.

As a legal deposit
Legal deposit
Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The requirement is mostly limited to books and periodicals. The number of copies varies and can range from one to 19 . Typically, the national library is one of the...

 library, the British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. It also has a programme for content acquisitions. The British Library adds some three million items every year occupying 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of new shelf space.

The library is a non-departmental public body
Non-departmental public body
In the United Kingdom, a non-departmental public body —often referred to as a quango—is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive to certain types of public bodies...

 sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is a department of the United Kingdom government, with responsibility for culture and sport in England, and some aspects of the media throughout the whole UK, such as broadcasting and internet....

. It is located on the north side of Euston Road
Euston Road
Euston Road is an important thoroughfare in central London, England, and forms part of the A501. It is part of the New Road from Paddington to Islington, and was opened as part of the New Road in 1756...

 in St Pancras, London
St Pancras, London
St Pancras is an area of London. For many centuries the name has been used for various officially-designated areas, but now is used informally and rarely having been largely superseded by several other names for overlapping districts.-Ancient parish:...

 (between Euston railway station
Euston railway station
Euston railway station, also known as London Euston, is a central London railway terminus in the London Borough of Camden. It is the sixth busiest rail terminal in London . It is one of 18 railway stations managed by Network Rail, and is the southern terminus of the West Coast Main Line...

 and St Pancras railway station
St Pancras railway station
St Pancras railway station, also known as London St Pancras and since 2007 as St Pancras International, is a central London railway terminus celebrated for its Victorian architecture. The Grade I listed building stands on Euston Road in St Pancras, London Borough of Camden, between the...

) and has a document storage centre and reading room at Boston Spa
Boston Spa
Boston Spa is a village and civil parish in the City of Leeds metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England, south of Wetherby, on the banks of the River Wharfe...

, Wetherby
Wetherby
Wetherby is a market town and civil parish within the metropolitan borough of the City of Leeds, in West Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Wharfe, and has been for centuries a crossing place and staging post on the Great North Road, being mid-way between London and Edinburgh...

 in West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire is a metropolitan county within the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England with a population of 2.2 million. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972....

.

The library was originally a department of the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 and from the mid-19th century occupied the famous circular British Museum Reading Room
British Museum Reading Room
The British Museum Reading Room, situated in the centre of the Great Court of the British Museum, used to be the main reading room of the British Library. In 1997, this function moved to the new British Library building at St Pancras, London, but the Reading Room remains in its original form inside...

. It became legally separate in 1973, and by 1997 had moved into its new purpose-built building at St Pancras, London.

Historical background


The British Library was created on 1 July 1973 as a result of the British Library Act 1972. Prior to this, the national library was part of the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

, which provided the bulk of the holdings of the new library, alongside smaller organisations which were folded in (such as the National Central Library, the National Lending Library for Science and Technology and the British National Bibliography). In 1974 functions previously exercised by the Office for Scientific and Technical Information were taken over; in 1982 the India Office Library and Records and the HMSO Binderies became British Library responsibilities. In 1983, the Library absorbed the National Sound Archive, which holds many sound and video recordings, with over a million discs and thousands of tapes.

The core of the Library's historical collections is based on a series of donations and acquisitions from the 18th century, known as the 'foundation collections'. These include the books and manuscripts of Sir Robert Cotton
Robert Bruce Cotton
Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet was an English antiquarian and Member of Parliament, founder of the important Cotton library....

, Sir Hans Sloane, Robert Harley
Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer
Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer KG was a British politician and statesman of the late Stuart and early Georgian periods. He began his career as a Whig, before defecting to a new Tory Ministry. Between 1711 and 1714 he served as First Lord of the Treasury, effectively Queen...

 and King George III.

For many years its collections were dispersed in various buildings around central London
Central London
Central London is the innermost part of London, England. There is no official or commonly accepted definition of its area, but its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally,...

, in places such as Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury
-Places:* Bloomsbury is an area in central London.* Bloomsbury , related local government unit* Bloomsbury, New Jersey, New Jersey, USA* Bloomsbury , listed on the NRHP in Maryland...

 (within the British Museum), Chancery Lane
Chancery Lane tube station
Chancery Lane is a London Underground station in central London. It is on the Central Line between St. Paul's and Holborn stations. The station is located at the junction of High Holborn, Hatton Garden and Gray's Inn Road with subway entrances giving access to the ticket office under the roadway...

, and Holborn
Holborn
Holborn is an area of Central London. Holborn is also the name of the area's principal east-west street, running as High Holborn from St Giles's High Street to Gray's Inn Road and then on to Holborn Viaduct...

, with an interlibrary lending
Interlibrary loan
Interlibrary loan is a service whereby a user of one library can borrow books or receive photocopies of documents that are owned by another library...

 centre at Boston Spa
Boston Spa
Boston Spa is a village and civil parish in the City of Leeds metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England, south of Wetherby, on the banks of the River Wharfe...

, Wetherby
Wetherby
Wetherby is a market town and civil parish within the metropolitan borough of the City of Leeds, in West Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Wharfe, and has been for centuries a crossing place and staging post on the Great North Road, being mid-way between London and Edinburgh...

 in West Yorkshire (situated on Thorp Arch Trading Estate) and the newspaper library at Colindale
Colindale
-Transport:*Colindale tube station, on the Northern Line Edgware branch, is situated on the north side of the east-west Colindale Lane.-Development:...

, north-west London. Since 1997 the main collection has been housed in a single new building on Euston Road
Euston Road
Euston Road is an important thoroughfare in central London, England, and forms part of the A501. It is part of the New Road from Paddington to Islington, and was opened as part of the New Road in 1756...

 next to St. Pancras railway station, although post-1800 newspapers are still held at Colindale, and the Document Supply Centre is in Yorkshire. The Library has a book storage depot in Woolwich
Woolwich
Woolwich is a district in south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.Woolwich formed part of Kent until 1889 when the County of London was created...

, south-east London. The new library was designed specially for the purpose by the architect Colin St. John Wilson. Facing Euston Road is a large piazza that includes pieces of public art
Public art
The term public art properly refers to works of art in any media that have been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all...

, such as large sculptures by Eduardo Paolozzi
Eduardo Paolozzi
Sir Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi, KBE, RA , was a Scottish sculptor and artist. He was a major figure in the international art sphere, while, working on his own interpretation and vision of the world. Paolozzi investigated how we can fit into the modern world to resemble our fragmented civilization...

 (a bronze statue based on William Blake
William Blake
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age...

's study of Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

) and Antony Gormley
Antony Gormley
Antony Mark David Gormley OBE RA is a British sculptor. His best known works include the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in the North of England, commissioned in 1995 and erected in February 1998, Another Place on Crosby Beach near Liverpool, and Event Horizon, a multi-part site...

. It is the largest public building constructed in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in the 20th century.
In the middle of the building is a four-storey glass tower containing the King's Library
King's Library
The King's Library was one of the most important collections of books and pamphlets of the Age of Enlightenment. Assembled by George III, this scholarly library of over 65,000 volumes was subsequently given to the British nation by George IV. It was housed in a specially built gallery in the...

, with 65,000 printed volumes along with other pamphlets, manuscripts and maps collected by King George III between 1763 and 1820. In December 2009 a new storage building at Thorp Arch, City of Leeds
City of Leeds
The City of Leeds is a local government district of West Yorkshire, England, governed by Leeds City Council, with the status of a city and metropolitan borough. The metropolitan district includes Leeds and the towns of Farsley, Garforth, Guiseley, Horsforth, Morley, Otley, Pudsey, Rothwell,...

, West Yorkshire was opened by Rosie Winterton
Rosie Winterton
Rosalie "Rosie" Winterton is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Doncaster Central since 1997. Formerly a minister within both the Blair and Brown Governments, she first entered the Shadow Cabinet in May 2010 as the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons...

. The new facility, costing £26 million, has a capacity for seven million items, stored in more than 140,000 bar-coded
Barcode
A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data, which shows data about the object to which it attaches. Originally barcodes represented data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or 1 dimensional . Later they evolved into rectangles,...

 containers, which are retrieved by robots, from the 262 kilometres of temperature and humidity-controlled storage space.

Legal deposit



In England, legal deposit
Legal deposit
Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The requirement is mostly limited to books and periodicals. The number of copies varies and can range from one to 19 . Typically, the national library is one of the...

 can be traced back to at least 1610. An Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 in 1911 established the principle of the legal deposit, ensuring that the British Library and five other libraries in Great Britain and Ireland are entitled to receive a free copy of every item published in Britain. The other five libraries are: the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

 at Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

; the University Library
Cambridge University Library
The Cambridge University Library is the centrally-administered library of Cambridge University in England. It comprises five separate libraries:* the University Library main building * the Medical Library...

 at Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

; the Trinity College Library
Trinity College Library, Dublin
Trinity College Library Dublin, the centrally-administered library of Trinity College, Dublin, is the largest library in Ireland. As a "copyright library", it has legal deposit rights for material published in the Republic of Ireland; it is also the only Irish library to hold such rights for the...

 at Dublin; and the National Libraries of Scotland
National Library of Scotland
The National Library of Scotland is the legal deposit library of Scotland and is one of the country's National Collections. It is based in a collection of buildings in Edinburgh city centre. The headquarters is on George IV Bridge, between the Old Town and the university quarter...

 and Wales
National Library of Wales
The National Library of Wales , Aberystwyth, is the national legal deposit library of Wales; one of the Welsh Government sponsored bodies.Welsh is its main medium of communication...

. The British Library is the only one that must automatically receive a copy of every item published in Britain; the others are entitled to these items, but must specifically request them from the publisher after learning that they have been or are about to be published, a task done centrally by the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries
Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries
The Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries acts as on behalf of five of the legal deposit libraries defined in United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland law to obtain copies of material published and distributed in those countries.The current Agency came into existence on 2 March 2009 and is based at...

.

Further, under the terms of Irish copyright law
Irish copyright law
Copyright law of the Republic of Ireland is applicable to most typical copyright situations and includes a provision for "fair dealing", similar to that used by other countries.-History:...

 (most recently the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000), the British Library is entitled to automatically receive a free copy of every book published in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, alongside the National Library of Ireland
National Library of Ireland
The National Library of Ireland is Ireland's national library located in Dublin, in a building designed by Thomas Newenham Deane. The Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism is the member of the Irish Government responsible for the library....

, the Trinity College Library at Dublin, the library of the University of Limerick
University of Limerick
The University of Limerick is a university in Ireland near the city of Limerick on the island's west coast. It was established in 1972 as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick and became a university by statute in 1989 in accordance with the University of Limerick Act 1989...

, the library of Dublin City University
Dublin City University
Dublin City University is a university situated between Glasnevin, Santry, Ballymun and Whitehall on the Northside of Dublin in Ireland...

 and the libraries of the four constituent universities of the National University of Ireland
National University of Ireland
The National University of Ireland , , is a federal university system of constituent universities, previously called constituent colleges, and recognised colleges set up under the Irish Universities Act, 1908, and significantly amended by the Universities Act, 1997.The constituent universities are...

. The Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library, and the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales are also entitled to copies of material published in Ireland, but again must formally make requests.

In 2003 the Ipswich
Ipswich (UK Parliament constituency)
Ipswich is a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election.- Boundaries :...

 MP Chris Mole
Chris Mole
Christopher David "Chris" Mole is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Ipswich from a by-election in 2001, after the death of Jamie Cann, and was re-elected in 2005...

 introduced a Private Member's Bill
Private Member's Bill
A member of parliament’s legislative motion, called a private member's bill or a member's bill in some parliaments, is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature. In most countries with a parliamentary system, most bills are proposed by the government, not by individual members of the...

 which became the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003
Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003
The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which regulates the legal deposit of publications in the United Kingdom. It was a private member's bill which was passed to update the legislation on legal deposit to reflect the digital age.The previous...

. The Act extends United Kingdom legal deposit requirements to electronic documents, such as CD-ROM
CD-ROM
A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

s and selected websites.

The Library also holds the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections (APAC) which include the India Office Records
India Office Records
The India Office Records are a very large collection of documents relating to the administration of India from 1600 to 1947, the period spanning British rule in India...

 and materials in the languages of Asia and of north and north-east Africa.

Using the library's reading rooms


The Library is open to everyone who has a genuine need to use its collections. Anyone with a permanent address who wishes to carry out research can apply for a Reader Pass; they are required to provide proof of signature and address for security purposes.

Historically, only those wishing to use specialised material unavailable in other public or academic libraries would be given a Reader Pass. Recently, the Library has been criticised for admitting numbers of undergraduate students, who have access to their own university libraries, to the reading rooms. The Library replied that it has always admitted undergraduates as long as they have a legitimate personal, work-related or academic research purpose.

The majority of catalogue entries can be found on the British Library Integrated Catalogue, which is based on Aleph, a commercial Integrated library system
Integrated library system
An integrated library system , also known as a library management system ,is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed....

. Other collections have their own catalogues, such as western manuscripts. The large reading rooms offer hundreds of seats which are often filled with researchers, especially during the Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 and summer holidays.

Material available online


The British Library makes a number of images of items within its collections available online. Its Online Gallery gives access to 30,000 images from various medieval books, together with a handful of exhibition-style items in a proprietary format, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels
Lindisfarne Gospels
The Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated Latin manuscript of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the British Library...

. This includes the facility to "turn the virtual pages" of a few documents, such as Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

's notebooks.

The British Library's commercial secure electronic delivery service
Secure electronic delivery service
An alternative to localized repositories of physically secured documents Secure electronic delivery services such as that opened in 2003 by the British Library Document Supply Centre at Boston Spa, allow extended access to copyright material for which access rights have not been granted for open...

 was started in 2003 at a cost of £6 million. This offers more than 100 million items (including 280,000 journal titles, 50 million patents, 5 million reports, 476,000 US dissertations and 433,000 conference proceedings) for researchers and library patrons worldwide which were previously unavailable outside the Library due to copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 restrictions. In line with a government directive that the British Library must cover a percentage of its operating costs, a fee is charged to the user. However, this service is no longer profitable and has led to a series of restructures to try to prevent further losses.
When Google Books started, the British Library signed an agreement with Microsoft
Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

 to digitise a number of books from the British Library for its Live Search Books
Live Search Books
Live Search Books was a search service for books launched in December 2006, part of Microsoft's Live Search range of services. Microsoft was working with a number of libraries, including the British Library, to digitize books and make them searchable, and in the case of out-of-copyright books,...

 project. This material was only available to readers in the US, and closed in May 2008. The scanned books are currently available via the British Library catalogue or Amazon
Amazon.com
Amazon.com, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

.

In October 2010 the British Library launched its Management and business studies portal. This website is designed to allow digital access to management research reports, consulting reports, working papers and articles.

In November 2011, four million pages of newspaper from the 18th and 19th Centuries have been made available online. The project will scan up to 40 million pages over the next 10 years. The archive is free to search, but there is a charge for accessing the pages themselves.

Exhibitions



A number of books and manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

s are on display to the general public in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery which is open seven days a week at no charge. Some of the items in the exhibition include Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

, a Gutenberg Bible
Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed with a movable type printing press, and marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status...

, Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

's Canterbury Tales, Thomas Malory
Thomas Malory
Sir Thomas Malory was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur. The antiquary John Leland as well as John Bale believed him to be Welsh, but most modern scholars, beginning with G. L...

's Le Morte d'Arthur
Le Morte d'Arthur
Le Morte d'Arthur is a compilation by Sir Thomas Malory of Romance tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table...

(King Arthur
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

), Captain Cook's journal, Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

's History of England, Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards...

's Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published in London, England, in 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. with the title Jane Eyre. An Autobiography under the pen name "Currer Bell." The first American edition was released the following year by Harper & Brothers of New York...

, Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll , was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the...

's Alice's Adventures Under Ground, Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

's Just So Stories
Just So Stories
The Just So Stories for Little Children were written by British author Rudyard Kipling. They are highly fantasised origin stories and are among Kipling's best known works.-Description:...

, Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

's Nicholas Nickleby, Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

's Mrs Dalloway
Mrs Dalloway
Mrs Dalloway is a novel by Virginia Woolf that details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway in post-World War I England. It is one of Woolf's best-known novels....

and a room devoted solely to Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

.

In addition to the permanent exhibition, there are frequent thematic exhibitions which has covered maps
MAPS
Maps is the plural of map, a visual representation of an area.As an acronym, MAPS may refer to:* Mail Abuse Prevention System, an organisation that provides anti-spam support...

, sacred texts and now the history of the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

.

Business and IP Centre


In May 2005, the British Library received a grant of £1 million from the London Development Agency
London Development Agency
The London Development Agency is the Regional Development Agency for Greater London, England. It is a functional body of the Greater London Authority...

 to change two of its reading rooms into the Business & IP Centre. The Centre was opened in March 2006. It holds arguably the most comprehensive collection of business and intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 (IP) material in the United Kingdom and is the official library of the UK Intellectual Property Office.

The collection is divided up into four main information areas: market research
Market research
Market research is any organized effort to gather information about markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy...

, company information, trade directories, and journals
Magazine
Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

. It is free of charge in hard copy and online via approximately 30 subscription databases. Registered readers can access the collection and the databases.

There are over 50 million patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 specifications from 40 countries in a collection dating back to 1855. The collection also includes official gazettes on patents, trade marks and Registered Design; law reports and other material on litigation; and information on copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

. This is available in hard copy and via online databases.

Staff are trained to guide small and medium enterprise
Small and medium enterprise
Small and medium enterprises or small and medium-sized enterprises are companies whose headcount or turnover falls below certain limits.The abbreviation "SME" occurs commonly...

s (SME) and entrepreneurs to use the full range of resources.

Sound archive


The British Library Sound Archive holds more than a million discs and 185,000 tapes. The collections come from all over the world and cover the entire range of recorded sound from music, drama and literature to oral history and wildlife sounds, stretching back over more than 100 years. The Sound Archive's online catalogue is updated daily.

It is also possible to listen to recordings from the collection in selected Reading Rooms in the Library through their SoundServer and Listening and Viewing Service, which is based in the Rare Books & Music Reading Room.

In 2006 the Library launched a new online resource Archival Sound Recordings
Archival Sound Recordings
Archival Sound Recordings is a British Library service providing free online access to a diverse range of spoken word, music and environmental sounds from the British Library Sound Archive. Anyone with web access can use the service to search, browse and listen to 24,000 digitised recordings...

 which makes over 10,000 hours of the Sound Archive's recordings available online for UK higher and further education and the general public.

Newspapers



The British Library Newspapers section is based in Colindale
Colindale
-Transport:*Colindale tube station, on the Northern Line Edgware branch, is situated on the north side of the east-west Colindale Lane.-Development:...

 in North London. The Library has an almost complete collection of British and Irish newspapers since 1840. This is partly because of the legal deposit legislation of 1869, which required newspapers to supply a copy of each edition of a newspaper to the library. London editions of national daily and Sunday newspapers are complete back to 1801. In total the collection consists of 660,000 bound volumes and 370,000 reels of microfilm containing tens of millions of newspapers with 52,000 titles on 45 km of shelves. In May 2010 a ten year programme of digitisation of the newspaper archives with commercial partner DC Thomson subsidiary brightsolid.

Among the collections are the Thomason Tracts
Thomason Tracts
The Thomason Collection of Civil War Tracts consists of more than 22,000 pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, books, and news sheets, most of which were printed and distributed in London from 1640 to 1661...

, containing 7,200 17th century newspapers, and the Burney Collection
Burney Collection
The Burney Collection consists of over 1,270 17th-18th century newspapers and other news materials, gathered by Charles Burney, most notable for the 18th-century London newspapers...

, featuring newspapers from the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. The Thomason Tracts and Burney collections are held at St Pancras, and are available in digital facsimile.

The section also has extensive records of non-British newspapers in languages that use the Latin
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 and Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

s. The Library's substantial holdings of newspapers in the languages of Asia and the Middle East may be accessed at the Library's reading rooms at St. Pancras.

Philatelic Collections


The British Library Philatelic Collections
British Library Philatelic Collections
The British Library Philatelic Collections is the national philatelic collection of the United Kingdom with over 8 million items from around the world. It was established in 1891 as part of the British Museum Library, later to become the British Library, with the collection of Thomas Tapling...

 are held at St. Pancras. The Collections were established in 1891 with the donation of the Tapling
Thomas Tapling
Thomas Keay Tapling was an English businessman and politician. He played first class cricket and was also an eminent philatelist who formed one of the greatest stamp collections of his era.- Early life :...

 collection, they steadily developed and now comprise over 25 major collections and a number of smaller ones, encompassing a wide-range of disciplines. The collections include postage
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

 and revenue stamp
Revenue stamp
A revenue stamp, tax stamp or fiscal stamp is a adhesive label used to collect taxes or fees on documents, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, drugs and medicines, playing cards, hunting licenses, firearm registration, and many other things...

s, postal stationery
Postal stationery
A piece of postal stationery is a stationery item, such as a stamped envelope, letter sheet, postal card, lettercard, aerogram or wrapper, with an imprinted stamp or inscription indicating that a specific rate of postage or related service has been prepaid...

, essays
Essay (philately)
In philately, an essay is a design for a proposed stamp submitted to the postal authorities for consideration but not used, or used after alterations have been made. By contrast, a proof is a trial printing of an accepted stamp....

, proofs
Proofreading
Proofreading is the reading of a galley proof or computer monitor to detect and correct production-errors of text or art. Proofreaders are expected to be consistently accurate by default because they occupy the last stage of typographic production before publication.-Traditional method:A proof is...

, covers
Cover (philately)
In philately, the term cover pertains to the outside of an envelope or package with an address, typically with postage stamps that have been cancelled and is a term generally used among stamp and postal history collectors. The term does not include the contents of the letter or package, although...

 and entries, "cinderella stamp
Cinderella stamp
In philately, a cinderella stamp has been defined as "Virtually anything resembling a postage stamp, but not issued for postal purposes by a government postal administration..." The term also excludes imprinted stamps on postal stationery.- Types :...

" material, specimen issues, airmail
Airmail
Airmail is mail that is transported by aircraft. It typically arrives more quickly than surface mail, and usually costs more to send...

s, some postal history
Postal history
Postal history is the study of postal systems and how they operate and, or, the study of postage stamps and covers and associated material illustrating historical episodes of postal systems...

 materials, official and private posts, etc., for almost all countries and periods.

An extensive display of material from the collections is on exhibit, which may be the best permanent display of diverse classic stamps and philatelic material in the world. Approximately 80,000 items on 6,000 sheets may be viewed in 1,000 display frames; 2,400 sheets are from the Tapling Collection. All other material, which covers the whole world, is available to students and researchers.

As well as these collections, the library actively acquires literature on the subject. This makes the British Library one of the world's prime philatelic research centres. The Head Curator of the Philatelic Collections is David Beech
David Beech
David Richard Beech is the curator of the British Library Philatelic Collections. He is also a Fellow and former President of the Royal Philatelic Society London ....

.

Highlights of the collections


Highlights selected by the British Library include:
  • The Diamond Sutra
    Diamond Sutra
    The Diamond Sūtra , is a short and well-known Mahāyāna sūtra from the Prajñāpāramitā, or "Perfection of Wisdom" genre, and emphasizes the practice of non-abiding and non-attachment...

    , the world's earliest dated printed book printed in 868 during the Tang Dynasty
    Tang Dynasty
    The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

  • The Codex Sinaiticus
    Codex Sinaiticus
    Codex Sinaiticus is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. It is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of...

     The major portion of the world's second oldest manuscript of the Bible in koine Greek
    Koine Greek
    Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

     (4th century) and a priceless treasure.
  • The Codex Alexandrinus
    Codex Alexandrinus
    The Codex Alexandrinus is a 5th century manuscript of the Greek Bible,The Greek Bible in this context refers to the Bible used by Greek-speaking Christians who lived in Egypt and elsewhere during the early history of Christianity...

  • The Lindisfarne Gospels
    Lindisfarne Gospels
    The Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated Latin manuscript of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the British Library...

  • The St Cuthbert Gospel, with the oldest Western binding, currently on long-term and in 2011 the subject of an appeal to purchase.
  • Two Gutenberg Bible
    Gutenberg Bible
    The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed with a movable type printing press, and marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status...

    s
  • Two 1215 copies of Magna Carta
    Magna Carta
    Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

  • The sole surviving manuscript copy
    Nowell Codex
    Cotton Vitellius A. xv is one of the four major Anglo-Saxon literature codices. It is most famous as the manuscript containing the unique copy of the epic poem Beowulf; in addition to this it contains a fragment of The Life of Saint Christopher, and the more complete texts Letters of Alexander to...

     of the poem Beowulf
    Beowulf
    Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

  • The Codex Arundel
    Codex Arundel
    Codex Arundel, is a bound collection of pages of notes written by Leonardo da Vinci and dating mostly from between 1480 and 1518. The codex contains a number of treatises on a variety of subjects, including mechanics and geometry. The name of the codex came from the Earl of Arundel, who acquired...

    , one of Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

    's notebooks.
  • William Tyndale
    William Tyndale
    William Tyndale was an English scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther...

    's 1534 English translation New Testament, the personal copy of Anne Boleyn
    Anne Boleyn
    Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...

    .
  • Manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground by Lewis Carroll
    Lewis Carroll
    Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll , was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the...

     (given to the British Library by a consortium of American bibliophiles "in recognition of Britain's courage in facing Hitler before America came into the war")

Collections of manuscripts

  • Arundel collection
  • Cotton Library
    Cotton library
    The Cotton or Cottonian library was collected privately by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton M.P. , an antiquarian and bibliophile, and was the basis of the British Library...

  • Harleian Collection
  • King's Library
    King's Library
    The King's Library was one of the most important collections of books and pamphlets of the Age of Enlightenment. Assembled by George III, this scholarly library of over 65,000 volumes was subsequently given to the British nation by George IV. It was housed in a specially built gallery in the...



There are also "Additional Manuscripts" series, which covers manuscripts that are not part of the named collections, and contains all manuscripts gifted, purchased or bequested to the Library since 1756.

Transport connections

Service Station/Stop Lines/Routes served
London Buses British Library 10, 30, 59, 73, 91, 205, 390, 476,
N73, N91
London Underground King's Cross St. Pancras
King's Cross St. Pancras tube station
King's Cross St. Pancras is a tube station in the London Borough of Camden, on the London Underground network, serving both King's Cross and main line stations. It is in Travelcard Zone 1. It is the fourth busiest station on the system and serves more lines than any other...

 





London Overground Euston
Euston station
Euston station may refer to one of the following stations in London, United Kingdom:*Euston railway station, a major terminus for trains to the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and part of Scotland...

 
Watford DC Line
Watford DC Line
The Watford DC Line is a commuter railway line from London Euston to Watford Junction. Services on the line are operated by London Overground....

National Rail King's Cross  East Coast
East Coast (train operating company)
East Coast is a British train operating company running high-speed passenger services on the East Coast Main Line between London, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland...

, First Capital Connect
First Capital Connect
First Capital Connect is a passenger train operating company in England that began operations on the National Rail network on 1 April 2006...

,
First Hull Trains, Grand Central
St Pancras
St Pancras railway station
St Pancras railway station, also known as London St Pancras and since 2007 as St Pancras International, is a central London railway terminus celebrated for its Victorian architecture. The Grade I listed building stands on Euston Road in St Pancras, London Borough of Camden, between the...

 
East Midland Trains, Eurostar
Eurostar
Eurostar is a high-speed railway service connecting London with Paris and Brussels. All its trains traverse the Channel Tunnel between England and France, owned and operated separately by Eurotunnel....

,
First Capital Connect
First Capital Connect
First Capital Connect is a passenger train operating company in England that began operations on the National Rail network on 1 April 2006...

, Southeastern

See also


  • Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries
    Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries
    The Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries acts as on behalf of five of the legal deposit libraries defined in United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland law to obtain copies of material published and distributed in those countries.The current Agency came into existence on 2 March 2009 and is based at...

  • British Library of Political and Economic Science
    British Library of Political and Economic Science
    The British Library of Political and Economic Science is the main library of theLondon School of Economics and Political Science, and the world's largest political and social sciences library .-Description:...

  • British literature
    British literature
    British Literature refers to literature associated with the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. By far the largest part of British literature is written in the English language, but there are bodies of written works in Latin, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Cornish, Manx, Jèrriais,...

  • British Museum Reading Room
    British Museum Reading Room
    The British Museum Reading Room, situated in the centre of the Great Court of the British Museum, used to be the main reading room of the British Library. In 1997, this function moved to the new British Library building at St Pancras, London, but the Reading Room remains in its original form inside...

  • DataCite
    DataCite
    DataCite is an international consortium which aims to:*establish easier access to scientific research data on the Internet, to*increase acceptance of research data as legitimate, citable contributions to the scientific record, and to...

  • Friends of the British Library
    Friends of the British Library
    The Friends of the British Library is a registered charitable organisation in the UK with close links to the British Library. It provides funding in the form of grants to the British Library in order to allow the Library to acquire new items and collections, procure new equipment and facilities,...

  • Incunabula Short Title Catalogue
    Incunabula Short Title Catalogue
    The Incunabula Short Title Catalogue is an electronic bibliographic database maintained by the British Library which seeks to catalogue all known incunabula. The database lists books by individual editions, recording standard bibliographic details for each edition as well as giving a brief census...

  • International Dunhuang Project
    International Dunhuang Project
    The International Dunhuang Project is an international collaborative effort to conserve, catalogue and digitise manuscripts, printed texts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang and various other archaeological sites at the eastern end of the Silk Road...

  • Lawrence Durrell Collection
    Lawrence Durrell Collection
    The Lawrence Durrell Collection is a special collection of books and periodicals by, about or associated with the novelist and poet Lawrence Durrell, donated to the British Library by Alan G. Thomas.-External links:*...

  • National Archives
  • National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
    National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
    The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program is an archival program led by the Library of Congress to archive and provide access to digital resources. The U.S. Congress established the program in 2000...

  • National Library of Scotland
    National Library of Scotland
    The National Library of Scotland is the legal deposit library of Scotland and is one of the country's National Collections. It is based in a collection of buildings in Edinburgh city centre. The headquarters is on George IV Bridge, between the Old Town and the university quarter...

  • National Library of Wales
    National Library of Wales
    The National Library of Wales , Aberystwyth, is the national legal deposit library of Wales; one of the Welsh Government sponsored bodies.Welsh is its main medium of communication...

  • National Preservation Office
    National Preservation Office
    The National Preservation Office was established by the British Library Board in 1984. In 2009 it was renamed the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre...

  • National Sound Archive
    British Library Sound Archive
    The British Library Sound Archive in London, England is one of the largest collections of recorded sound in the world, including music, spoken word and ambient recordings....

  • Theatre Archive Project
    Theatre Archive Project
    The Theatre Archive Project is an ongoing project to reinvestigate British theatre history from 1945 to 1968, from the perspectives of both the theatregoer and the practitioner. The project is a collaboration between the British Library and the De Montfort University, and is funded by the Arts and...

  • Social Networking and UK Libraries
    Social Networking and UK Libraries
    Libraries in the UK are increasingly engaging with Social networking tools, both as a way of reaching patrons, and as a place where patrons can access social networking sites for their own use. Every public library in the UK provides computers for patrons...


Further reading

  • Alan Day: Inside the British Library. Library Association, London 1998, ISBN 1-85604-280-4
  • Philip Howard: The British Library, a treasure of knowledge. Scala, London 2008, ISBN 978-1-85759-375-4
  • Colin St John Wilson: The design and construction of the British Library. British Library, London 1998, ISBN 0-7123-0658-7

External links