Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The London Library

            Today we took the tube to The London Library.  The London Library was founded in May of 1841 as a member’s only library with John Cochrane as the Librarian.  They moved to their present location in St James’s Square in 1845.  Charles Hagberg Wright, in 1893, becomes Librarian and develops the shelving system that is still used today which enables the books to be easily browsed.  In 1896, they had the building reconstructed and is one of the first steel framed buildings in London.  Throughout the years, the building has gone through more construction and in 1944 was hit by a German bomb and destroyed over 16,000 volumes. 

In their over 1,000,000 item collection, they have all hardback books and no dust jackets because of the heat and have 8,000 titles coming in to the library every year with the art collection growing the fastest.  They do not have all of their books on their online catalog because they have so many.  The only books in their online catalog are the books they received since 1950 and the earlier ones still in their paper catalog. 

Some of their famous patrons include: T.S. Elliot, Her Royal Highness the Queen, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Wolf, Laurence Olivier, Bram Stoker, and more.  T.S. Eliot also was president from 1952 to his death in 1965. 

For our tour of the library, we were split in to two groups so as to not disturb the patrons.  We were shown the bookstacks that were part of the construction of the steel frames building.  These bookstacks are actually part of the library’s construction with the shelves on the steel support beams.  Then we also saw the Art Room, the reading room, the Sackler Study, the Lightwell Reading Room, and the Issue Hall.

            What I liked most about visiting this library was being able to see that through their different renovations throughout the years that it is still in the Victorian style.  This library was one of my favorites to visit because of its rich history with their patrons.  

Front Door

The grate floor in the stacks that are on the support beams

The stacks on the support beams

Reading Room

Reading Room

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