Tuesday, July 13, 2010

British Library

My favorite part of the British Library is that the stacks can be seen as a work of art within the library. The stacks are in the middle of the library and can be seen because the room is encased in glass. Although the patron is unable to search the stacks physically for the book, they can actually look at the stacks through the glass. The British Library opened in 1998. The building is immense, which is reasonable because of the heavy flow of patrons and visitors using and touring the facility. It receives 8,000 new publications daily. The Library holds a copy of every book published in the UK. Contrary to belief, there are more books being published now than in the 1960's. The basement reaches 75 ft. below ground (quite a basement!). Our tour guide, Heather Moorely, informed us that the Northern Line does run through the basement, because it is so far below ground. All books are stored in the basement facility. Books are stored by size, not call number, which utilizes all of their space efficiently. The basement is kept at 16 degrees Celsuis, or 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping the books a consistently cool temperature. When a patron requests a book, there is a ticket printed out for the book, and it is retrieved. The ticket stub is left in the space the book belongs, keeping the record of the book's absence in the stacks. The book is placed on a trolley and sent upstairs. A book has never gone missing by using the trolley system. Rare books are sent up by hand. The patron will then be able to access the book in a reading room. You must be 18 or older to get a reader's card, which allows patrons to access the materials.

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