Biggest Library In The World

British Library is of the richest and finest libraries in the world.The library is based in London. It is one of the world's richest research libraries, holding over 150 million items in all known languages and formats; books, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings and much more. It is only second to the American Library of Congress. The British Library's collections include around 25 million books, along with substantial additional collection of books and additional collection of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 300 BC.

The Library was created in 1973 by the British Library Act 1972. Prior to this, the National Library was part of the British Museum, which provided the bulk of the holdings of the new library, alongside various smaller organizations which were folded in (such as the British National Bibliography and India Office Library). For many years its collections were dispersed in various buildings around central London, in places such as Bloomsbury (within British Museum), Chancery Lane, and Holborn, with the lending library at Boston Spa, West Yorkshire and the newspaper library in Colindale, north-west London. Since 1997 the most of the collections have been moved to the present new building on Euston Road next to St. Pancras Railway and Underground station. The purpose built building was designed by architect Colin St. John Wilson . Facing Euston Road is a large piazza that includes pieces of public art, such as large sculptures by Eduardoo Paolozzi and Antony Gormley. The Library has 625 km of shelves and in the middle of the building is a four-storey glass tower containing the King's library, with 65,000 printed volumes along with other pamphlets, manuscripts and maps collected by King George III between 1763 and 1820. Besides the main Library, a researcher or a reader can order materials from other locations of the Library situated in Micawber Street, Woolwich in London or from far away locations such as from Boston Spa, Collindale (for Newspapers), or from Yorkshire. Depending on what you have ordered and from which location the ordered items are delivered between seventy minutes to more than two days. British Library is not an open shelve library, excepting few dictionaries or encyclopedias.


The Library is open on all weekdays excepting Sundays and public holidays. One has to possess a reader's pass which is available free of cost and may have a validity of six months to five years. Normally undergraduate students were not issued a readers pass on the assumption that they have access to their own university library. In England if a University Library did not have a particular title in its own collection it could borrow it from other libraries, including the British Library. Now the British Library allows undergraduate students as long as they have a legitimate personal, work-related or academic research purpose.


Selections from the British Library's manuscripts collection have been made available to download from the internet and gives access to 30,000 images online. The Library's commercial secure electronic delivery service can supply more than one hundred million items for researchers and library patrons worldwide which were previously unavailable outside the Library due to copyright restrictions.


The Library has a permanent Exhibition Gallery called Sir John Ritblat Gallery where important books are on display to the general public. The Library also stages temporary free exhibitions on a wide range of subjects. When I was using the Library last October it was hosting an exhibition titled 'The Ramayana-Love and Valour in India's Great Epic.' The audio-visual gallery was hosting the anti-Vietnam War movement of the sixties in Europe and US. The Library has an excellent gift and coffee shop and the entire building is served by WiFi service. Next time you are in London just take a day off and spend it in the British Library. I can bet you will love to come back. I have regularly done that since 1987 even if I am in London for couple of days.

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