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Posted:  Thursday 11 May 2017

South East Associates
The British Library

- Thursday 20th April -

"The buildings and the treasures"

In the South East Associates, we are very lucky to be close to London, and like it or loath it, it contains some of the world’s greatest treasures.

One of these is surely the British Library.

The second largest in the world - only the US Library of Congress is bigger - housing 150 million items – and rising by 10,000 a day!! - spanning 30 centuries and from almost every country and language in the world, since man stopped building the Tower of Babel!

They include some of
the most celebrated documents in existence:
Magna Carta
 The Lindisfarne Gospels
    The Diamond Sutra - world’s earliest printed book 868 AD
      The Codex Sinaiticus - the earliest bible from ~ 350AD
        The oldest Buddhist texts
          The Klencke Atlas – the largest - and below

The first illustrated English news pamphlet - The Times: March 1788
  The Gutenberg Bible
    Shakespeare’s first folio
      Mozart’s catalogue,
        Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks
          The whole of George III’s library - below


Also contained are the original manuscripts for:
  Alice’s Adventures underground
    Jane Austen
      Sherlock Holmes
        The Beatles handwritten lyrics


Together with:
Nine million stamps
  Board Games
    The National Sound Archive
      The World’s Patents
. . . . . pheww!


Well, we thirty-one Associates got to see some of these, but clearly another long visit, or ten, is required to take in even a tiny fraction of this great wealth.
And it’s all FREE - within reason!  You can in theory, request to see anything.

And yet the library was only established in 1973, when an Act of Parliament brought together a number of famous old institutions into a single organisation.
It took 24 years to build, has 112,000 square metres spread over fourteen floors – nine above ground and five below.  Viewed from the side it has the outline of a large ship – the architect was an old navy man.  A true ark of knowledge.

We also had a tour of the building and saw its amazing conveyor system for accessing materials.
It is maintained by Gary, whose main qualification for the job is that he is very small, and can ride on a trolley into the labyrinth to find a fix and broken drive belts!


(mkw  24/04/2017)
(fd  09/05/2017)

(ph  11/05/2017)

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